I’m absolutely stuffed after the festive binge but still trailing around the supermarkets picking up boxes of discounted chocolates. Lindt/Choceur/Nestle (I’m boycotting Cadburys and Toblerone for tax evasion and stinginess reasons) are invaluable for keeping me long enough at my desk to go through all the dreaded paperwork and chocolate is my Winter therapy for living in a cold, damp climate. But how long can I get away with stuffing my face before I end up with a big fatty bum bum, you ask?
Well, quite a while lovely Mamas! Because I have learned how to use my butty muscles all the time so they keep ‘a burning and ‘a toning. More to the point, we all need to keep our derriere muscles big and bonafide to stave off back pain, improve sports performance and keep our postural system in check. So I can happily say, I like Big Butts! (and I cannot lie..)
Before I go on, I do have one exception of course: Mrs Kardashian-West. I don’t like her behind. I appreciate that J.Lo and the aforementioned KK have shifted fashion so that we no longer need ask the question ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ However Mrs K-W has cheated and I doubt it is doing her body any favours. Just as Lola Ferrari suffered crippling back pain from her 22 breast enlargements- google EuroTrash if you feel the need to know more- Kimmy K suffered debilitating neck and back pain throughout her latest pregnancy. Her over-egged rear has severely altered the loading on her spine and it is a wonder she ever manages to shift an inch on the red carpet. Perhaps those pencil skirts are a ruse to hide her stilted movement??
Harmonious bottoms strike a balance with their surroundings. Gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, the three larger muscle groupings that make up our bottom, power us forward by pulling our legs hard backwards, much like the string on an archery bow. Then the surrounding muscular and fascial connections of the inner thighs, deep hips and abdominal structures allow this pull-back to strike forward into our leg swing.
Runners may overlook this need for the bottom to propel and mobilise the legs leading to over-worked hamstrings. So then it becomes ironic that some of the fittest amongst us, cardiovascularly, have some of the most out-of-kilter body systems. Weak glutes can ruin a runner.
Conversely, sitting down at desk jobs and driving lots produces the terrible sounding ‘lazy glutes’. If your body becomes accustomed to sitting down with legs bent, the neuromuscular signals in your bottom can literally go to sleep. Once the signals turn-off, unless you consciously turn them on again, your bottom is now in rest mode.
Those of you who know me in my professional life know that I constantly poke about trying to fire up everyone’s behinds. You need to learn to continually keep your bottom working, if not as mobilisers, then just as stabilising muscles.
Plus it’s important to be able to fire up left and right butt cheeks to equal effect and independently too. Try it now- you are probably sitting down. Can you squeeze just your right cheek and then just your left cheek to the same degree? You should be able to!
You need to fire up your rear-end muscles in any form of movement training you do. Pilates, for example, makes a continual mention of glute muscles in nearly every exercise. Try bridges, single leg extensions over the barrel, side splits on the reformer and side-lying series on the half-Cadillac. It may just take a while to find the right movement patterning (and here you may need to ask an expert to monitor you).
And it’s zero tolerance on lazy buttocks in Barre classes too. The aptly named BootyBarre barre class, devised by Brummie turned Californian chic Tracey Mallett (who is in her fifties…and looks smokin’), is all about creating a bum to die for. As well as a strong shapely body overall.
The West coast Americans go mad for Barre- it’s lovely LuluLemon attire at the school gates and then straight off to Pilates or Barre or Yoga every morning to sculpt and tone those pert rear-ends.
Obviously we are sitting in the slightly rainier Cotswolds and Hersheys is no match for our choccie so I certainly do not propose we all audition for BayWatch and renounce Dairy Milk. But if you know how to recruit your gluteal muscles well through all your daily activities, you won’t ever be sitting on an ineffective sloppy backside, no matter how much cheap chocolate you indulge in on a rainy day!
Bubble butts be born!
A Guest Blog from Lucy Whitehead
Lucy Whitehead works with a lovely team of elite trainers at One Grove, Cheltenham’s specialist Pilates Reformer, Yoga and Health studios situated adjacent to Waitrose. Post-natal Pilates classes run every Tuesday evening. Barre classes run 5x per week. Lucy is a maman to two teenage girls. You can follow One Grove on Instagram or Facebook.