The dreaded saggy bum syndrome (as I like to call it), seems to become an issue for some people as they age; saggy flesh just hanging where there once used to be a pert muscular bottom.
The glutes (butt muscles) are the foundation of power and the fountain of youth. Healthy glutes show the world you are young, vibrant and strong. It’s not just an aesthetic problem; your glutes are one of the power houses of the body that generate force for so many movements that we do on a day to day basis. As your glute muscle atrophy (waste away), you will start to lose the ability to get up from the floor, stand from a chair, walk up a hill, sprint for a ball. Basically all the simple tasks that we take for granted when they are working properly.
Back pain can also often be attributed to weak glutes because it prevents you from extending your hips properly when you lift something up, the result of which is to curve the lower back instead.
The muscles in your bottom can generally waste a way because of 1 or 2 reasons:
Sitting too long can shut down the signals to the muscle so they are no longer working (“butt amnesia”) or when people stop doing the type of exercise that fires these muscles up, so they naturally waste away.
To solve the saggy bum syndrome, we recommend that you introduce 4 simple habits that you can implement into your daily routine with little to no interference.
Explanations with videos on the 4 exercises below
Habit 1: Squat More Often
Squatting utilises the glute muscles and will certainly keep them strong and powerful:
- Do 10-20 squats whilst you wait for the kettle boiling
- Do 10 squats when you get to your desk in the morning, 10 before you stop for lunch, 10 after lunch when you return to your desk and 10 last thing before you leave the office. (40 squats a day, keeps the ‘saggy bum’ away)
- Squat during the adverts of your favourite program (old school I know as most people just skip them nowadays, but this can be a great way to remind you to do them)
Habit 2: Stretch The Hip Flexors
Often these are the muscles that tighten when you spend long periods of your day in a seated position. They work opposite to the glutes and if they become too tight or over activated they can inhibit the contraction of the glutes and stop you from being able to extend the hips fully.
Hip Flexor PNF stretch:
- Go into the stretch until you feel a mild stretch
- Gently clench the glute on the side you kneeling on
- Relax and go into the stretch a little further
- Repeat sequence 3-6 times
Habit 3: Hip Raises
This is such an underrated exercise but one that can be vital to maintaining glute strength.
A good test to check that you have sufficient hip strength would be to go into a hip raise and hold the top position for 2 minutes (you should only feel this in the glutes, and to a much lesser degree the hamstrings). If you struggle to hold this, then some glute strengthening would be advisable
- Lift the hips without curving the lower back
- Aim to lift until hips are parallel with torso
- Squeeze glutes
- Lower to ground before repeating
Habit 4: Take On Those Hills
Walking or running up hills is a great way to build or preserve the muscles in your glutes. So try to find a hill that challenges you and walk up it as often as possible.
Workout For Stronger Glutes
If you want to preserve those glute muscles and getting them working to their full capacity here is an excellent glute focused workout that will help you achieve a strong and powerful posterior.
A great exercise for strengthening the lower body (the muscles that deplete the fastest as we age)
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Your toes should be pointed slightly outward – about 5 to 20 degrees outward.
- Look straight ahead and pick a spot on the wall in front of you. You’ll want to look at this spot the entire time you squat, not looking down at the floor or up at the ceiling.
- Keep your spine in a neutral position throughout. Don’t round your back, but also don’t hyper extend and over accentuate the natural arch of your back.
- Think about where your weight is on your feet – it should be on the heels and the balls of your feet.
- Keep your entire body tight the entire time.
- To descend, breathe in, break at your hip and push your bottom back.Keep sending your hips backwards as your knees begin to bend. It’s important that you start with your hips back, and not by bending your knees.
- As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet.
- Squat down until it feels comfortable. The aim is to get you thighs parallel with the ground.
- Drive back up to the start position.
(Add weight when you can complete 20 reps comfortably)
Hinge Movement / Deadlifts
- Stand with feet roughly hip width apart
- Hinge from the hips
- Keep your knee bend to a minimum
- Chest up and look straight ahead
- Slide the bar down along the shins
- Drive straight upwards until legs are straight
Weighted Hip Raises
Another exercise to strengthen those big powerful muscles in your backside that are so important for many of our daily tasks:
- Lie on your back with your feet roughly hip width apart
- Place a power bag or barbell on your hips
- Have your head and shoulders on a bench
- Raise your hips upwards
- Make sure you keep your back in a neutral position (avoid curving the lower back)