They all said it was going to happen: Mom, grandma, Oprah, the television news, the Mayo Clinic…
The forces of gravity are pushing on you and your body parts every single day. That’s more significant than an apple falling on your head. Other things can fall with the effects of gravity over time. Important things. Things that were once perky (or at least, perkier).
But, is gravity stronger than willpower and a set of really good exercises?
Let’s start with your metabolism. I was blessed with a fast one that slammed on its brakes so quickly when I hit 27 that I’m still recovering from the whiplash nearly a decade later. Where once I could eat an entire pizza with no (noticeable) side effects, suddenly flat abs and a perky derriere became less gift and more work.
Why? As you age, muscle mass decreases, which slows down the rate at which you burn calories (slowing your metabolism). At the same time, you also lose elasticity in your skin (on top of that decrease in muscle mass… resulting in even more loose skin). In addition to wrinkles that might appear on your face, the skin thins out on your breasts and buttocks. The result? Drooping. Sagging. Ugh.
Thanks to a quality skin cream (ok, creams) and a good dermatologist, my face is holding up. What’s holding up the girly parts (boobs and bum) can be credited to the right kind of exercise – exercises that can help lift sagging bits, build muscle to fill out the looser skin, and put up a fight against gravity – even as you age.
Let’s start at the top. Under breast tissue are your pectoralis major and minor muscles. Most women who strengthen the pecs will notice an increase in firmness, lift, and a rounder (i.e. perkier) look.
How to work them? Simple enough – pushups. Planks. Forearm planks. Pushups. Pushups. Pushups. Fortunately, there are a ton of versions of pushups and planks to keep the exercises interesting. Plus, Pilates apparatus has a ton of amazing variations of the weight room “chest fly” that work deeper thanks to the progressive resistance of spring weight. A good bra doesn’t hurt either. If you’re a runner, invest in something that holds your girls in place with as little jiggle as possible.
Now, how do you keep your other assets perky? Is it squats? Lunges? Those help, but you can do lots and lots of squats without getting the kind of results you want. Squats work your gluteus maximus, but what might be more important for creating lift is working the gluteus medius and minimus, the muscles on the outside of the hip.
Instead of damning gravity for all of the bad things it’s doing to you, work with it (or rather against it). Many of the Fuse Pilates glute work variations just use the weight of your leg (against gravity). To target your outer hip, try lying on your side, propped up on your elbow. Bend both legs like you’re sitting in a chair and extend the top leg out to a straight line from your hip (like you’re standing on that one leg). Lift the leg up and down 20 times, then turn that into orange-sized circles (20 in both directions). Don’t stop there. Turn your toes down to the floor and repeat. Don’t stop there. Bring your leg forward so that your top leg’s knee is stacked on top of your bottom (bent leg) knee. (Is it burning yet?) Do 20 lifts, 20 circles (both directions). Don’t forget to repeat on the other side. By working the outside muscles of your hip joint, you’ll build more roundness in your derriere – creating a natural lift.
Of course, let’s not forget to talk about fat. Sadly, there is no such thing as spot reduction. If you’re carrying a little extra in your rump, you can work out the muscles, but if they’re hiding under a layer of fat, cardio and diet have to be part of the whole workout plan. Thankfully, all exercise burns calories, building more muscle burns more fat, and exercise gives you fabulous endorphins – keeping your mood as perky as your posterior.