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Firm Up Your Rear End

Who doesn't wish for a firmer behind? While it's true that genetics influence the shape of your buttocks, exercises can go a long way.

Whether you want to add bulk and mass to "flat" buttocks or lift "droopy" ones, the exercises are the same. The difference is in the amount of weight needed for resistance and the number of repetitions.

The aerobic activity you choose can also firm up what was once "high and tight" and is now "low and loose." Step aerobics, a step machine, an elliptical trainer, a recumbent stationary bike, walking uphill, fencing and roller-blading are some cardiovascular exercises that are good for your heart and your gluteus maximus (aptly named because it is the largest muscle in the body).

If you want to add more bulk to your glutes, then increase the resistance on that stepper or recumbent bike. If you only want definition, keep the resistance light.

Variations on a theme
The primary exercises to increase mass in the buttocks are variations of squats and lunges, also called compound exercises since they involve other major muscles. Be prepared to eventually lift a fairly heavy amount of weight since the buttocks are a large muscle.

The exercises also work the front and back of the thighs. Which is just as well, since buttocks that need mass are usually attached to thin legs, which also need some filling out.

If you only want to define and lift your rear, don't be scared of squats and lunges--just don't lift heavy weights. Go for more (15 to 20), rather than less, repetitions.

Isolation exercises specifically target the buttocks and the hamstrings or the back of the thighs, which share the same function--lifting your leg behind you or lifting your body upward from a bent-knee position.

More weight, more bulk
Again, if you want bulk, use more weight and less repetitions per set (8-12). If you want definition and toning, use less weight and more reps.

To make the most of your isolation exercises and to protect your lower back, make sure to squeeze your buttocks before you even move your leg backward. You don't need a very large range of motions to achieve results. Moving with momentum will only strain your lower back. Move in slow, controlled motion.

"A moment on your lips, forever on your hips" is not too far from the truth. Any excess calories will be stored in your hips and thighs if you are genetically predisposed to store fat that way. So, if a fatty behind is the problem, remember that what you eat plays a major role in keeping your measurements under control.

Blame estrogen
Sometimes, however, even if you watch what you eat and exercise religiously, the rest of your body slims down but your hips, buttocks, and thighs stubbornly refuse to budge.

Scientists believe this has something to do with the reproductive process. Estrogen multiplies fat-storing enzymes and directs fat to be stored in a woman's lower body. Cells in that area contain more fat storing receptors. It seems Mother Nature has made sure that a woman has an abundant store of fat to stay fertile, carry a pregnancy to term and breast-feed even when food is scarce.

This doesn't mean you should give up eating sensibly and exercising regularly. You can still reduce your hips, buttocks and thighs considerably. However, you do have to be realistic and accept that your buttocks may always be larger than you like.

Some people resort to liposuction to get rid of fat in the lower body. This is certainly a quick way to achieve dramatic results but, if you choose this option, make sure to control what goes into your mouth and continue exercising. Fat has a funny way of showing up in the strangest of places. Don't get overconfident and eat up a storm.

Temporary relief
The buttocks and back of the legs are also famous for having not-so-cute dimples. This is because, aside from being fat depositories, a woman's skin is quite thin and wavy in that area. Here is where the anti-cellulite creams and gels come into the picture. They tighten the skin in that area temporarily. If this helps you feel better about your figure and you have money to spare, then get some. Just don't believe outrageous claims about "melting your fat away."

Cellulite-riddled buttocks and thighs look better when the muscles underneath are firm and tight. Here are exercises that can help.

* chair butt lift
* table assisted buttocks lift
* one legged squat
* step bench back lunge

Lastly, there is one exercise you can do anywhere-well, almost. Just clench the cheeks of your buttocks together as hard as you can (remember to breathe) for about 10-15 seconds. If you can do this many times throughout the day, you will be rewarded with a firmer derriere. A word of caution, though. If you intend to do this while waiting in line, for example, make sure you aren't wearing tight pants and no one is standing behind you.

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