“It’s just a vanity thing,” women will say when they want exercises for the butt. It might be. It also is a smart thing for injury prevention. A firmer butt is a more functional butt. How to build a firmer butt when you are 50 or older gets trickier.
Let’s face it. None of us ever got compliments for being out of shape. Of course we want to look good. If that’s what motivates you, so be it. My mantra is look good, feel good, and you’ll do good.
The muscles of your backside primarily include your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius. You want to focus on exercises that target them as well as the hamstrings in the back of the thigh. As the hamstring inserts into the hip it helps define a firm butt, however it has to be toned.
Lazy glutes can be the cause of either low back injuries or knee problems. Generally, if you’re having trouble with one joint look to the joint above or below it for contributing factors. If you’re glutes are weak, for instance, your alignment might be off just enough to cause knees some instability.
Gluteal Amnesia is a term that I use to refer to the muscle memory of your bum tanking. Those muscles have taken a vacation and you’ve got to do some fast talking to wake them up again. We sit on them far too much. Gravity is doing it’s job. You may have a little more, shall we say, adipose tissue there. All that said, your glute muscles respond well to exercise. It’s time to raise the rear view.
If Gluteal Amnesia is the problem, simply jumping into exercises that target the butt muscles may not help. They’re asleep. Your first goal is to wake them up. That takes some time and attention but less physical stress. What really happens during this phase is your brain develops better communication with the muscles again. Think of your glutes like a distracted teen. They just aren’t paying attention and so you’re going to have to work a little harder to get them to talk to you.
The following exercises, and in this order, are good for stimulating that neural connection (brain to muscle). They also happen to be easy on the knees compared to other butt firming exercises.
Perform 10-to-15 repetitions of each. If you lose good form before 10 repetitions, stop sooner. These exercises can be done daily. Perform one set for the first week. Add a second set the following week. Then move to three sets. Once you build up to doing three sets of each you can back off to doing these every other day.
When you’re sure your glutes are firing and you’re feeling renewed awareness of the ability to squeeze and contract those muscles, you’re ready to move on. A good sign you’ve been stimulating the right muscle will come when you’re walking up stairs. You’ll notice that indeed you worked those muscles recently.
The next exercises are all standing and increase the hip extension done in two out of three exercises with more balance involved. If you notice knee pain in these exercises, back off and continue with the first set.
Start with a single set of 15-25 repetitions. You want to reach fatigue. Add a second and eventually a third set. Do these exercises every other day or twice a week.
There are dozens of ways to exercise the gluteal muscles. I’ve selected the most efficient way to first stimulate the muscles and second add the movements that directly extend the hip against resistance of body weight. Explore new exercises once you’ve got this battery down. If you’re short on time, come back to this targeted set that will get you the fastest results in the least amount of time.
Note: I used a Green band from Power Systems for the Band Side Stepping exercise in the first set of exercises.
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