Considering our glutes are the largest, strongest muscle grouping in our bodies, it's a shame so many of us sit on them all day. For the majority of people, it's not out of laziness, but due to our lifestyles. We have sedentary jobs and long commutes, and these things can drain us of our energy.
So what do we do when we get home? Sit more: in front of the TV or some other screen until it's time for bed. And we get up in the morning and the cycle of sitting begins again. Sunrise, sunset.
Get Your Rear in Gear
Unfortunately, all this sitting around can take a toll on the appearance of your behind, as well as your overall health.
The Proof is in (Your) Pudding
If you don't have a perky backside -- or if you've noticed a decline in the usual perkiness of your backside -- it may be time to get up and do something about it. literally. This condition, called ‘Desk Derriere’, is caused by three main factors:
- Progressive atrophy (wasting away) of our glutes muscles due to inactivity.
- Decreased blood flow to your behind.
- Incorrect seated posture and positioning.
The Cause: Atrophy
You know the saying: use it or lose it! It’s safe to say that if you’re planted on your butt for 8 hours a day (or more), you’re not using it. Lacking any stimulus to maintain or grown more muscle, your existing glute muscles shrink and become weak. As a result, your behind begins to lag and sag. No amount of working out on your weekend will combat your weekly marathon sessions of sitting.
The Cause: Decreased Blood Flow
Sitting on your butt all day can compromise blood flow to the area, which can in turn cause your glutes to not activate readily. This means it can take your muscles longer to get in gear when you do move, making it more difficult to enjoy the rear-lifting perks of working out.
The Cause: Incorrect Seated Posture
When most of us sit down, we tilt our pelvis up and this puts a lot of pressure on our spine. This posture alone can cause back pain, but combine it with the fact that your glutes are a primary stabilizer for your spine (and your entire torso) and that this muscle group is wasting away while you’re sitting around, and your in a for a world of hurt.
Weak and compromised muscles lead to an increased likelihood of injury, and if you’re injured, you’re not going to want to — or in some severe cases, be able to — move around enough to add some octane to your rump. The result: the appearance and health of your entire body will suffer.
The Fix: Move!
Seems pretty obvious, right? To combat this muscle atrophy, you have to get up and move. If can’t swing a standing desk, break up every 30 minutes of sitting with 30 seconds of movement. You don’t have to pound out a few dozen jump squats: getting up and stretching or walking around is enough to combat atrophy.
To keep your muscles and joints active, mobile and supple, focus on stretches that target your hip flexors. Your hips are the opposing muscle group of your glutes, and can often get tight during your sedentary workday.
This is a great stretch if your office space is limited. It instantly releases tension in your hips and will also relax and realign your shoulders, spine and neck.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Balancing on your left leg, bend your right knee up toward your buttocks and grab your right foot. Hold onto a wall or chair if you need help balancing.
- Relax your hips forward until you feel a stretch. You will feel a stretch through your quads (thighs) as well.
- While holding this pose, stand tall. Roll your shoulders back and down to reset your spine and neck.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Perform using the other leg.
When it comes to opening your hips, Pigeon Pose is a powerhouse. It is also incredible for stretching out your groin, thigh, ankle and glutes.
- Start in your hands and knees.
- Bring your right knee forward and place it just behind your right wrist - or as close as you can get.
- Place your right ankle in front of your left hip.
- Next, take your left leg back behind you, straightening out your knee. It’s helpful to point your toes during this movement since it will guide your leg so it falls directly behind your butt. The heel should be pointing up to the ceiling.
- Ensure your hips are both positioned forward; you should not be leaning off to the side. If you find you are, use a yoga block or a pillow and place it under right butt-cheek. This will level your hips.
- Now inhale, lifting your torso, coming up onto your fingertips.
- Place your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Open your chest by rolling your shoulders back and down.
- Tuck in your belly-button to your spine, drawing your tailbone toward the floor.
- Exhale, walking your hands forward and bringing your chest down toward the floor.
- Place your head on your folded arms. Alternatively, you can keep your arms straight and rest your forehead on the floor. Ensure your neck is relaxed.
- Finally, return to back to hands and knees and repeat this sequence on your other side.
About those jump squats we mentioned earlier: you should be sneaking in a few workouts during the work week. We get that you may not have tons of time to spare, so aim for at least 3 short and sweet HIIT sessions a week.
For ideal balance, make sure at least one is dedicated to lower body training, and one to core and one to total body or just upper body.
During your lower body training, add in some targeted glute moves. Squats and lunges are great, but they don’t target the deeper, diminutive (but equally important) glute muscles. These small but mighty muscles contribute to optimal hip and leg movement, as well as to the overall perky appearance of your backside.
For best results, enlist the help of some resistance in the form of training bands like Booty Bands. This tool will not only improve the tone of your butt; it will also increase the strength and stability of your hips, knees and spine.
Regular movement, including stretching and muscle building: this is enough to help keep your glutes engaged, while also helping you shape a leaner, healthier body over all. You don’t have to make taking care of your body your second job, but if you have a sedentary job, you do have to do something. You have the know-how, now all you need is a few minutes. Get your ass in gear!
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