A physical therapist at Spear Physical Therapy in NYC here to give us advice on booty workout.
Office ass: Actual condition or lie we tell ourselves?
If you think sitting is making you less bootylicious, well, you might be right. “Office ass is a colloquial term for a culmination of several things,” says Bales. First, we’re parking our bottoms in chairs for hours upon hours every day, she says. And as a result, “People have a difficult time actively engaging their glutes to both strengthen and shape them.” So yes, if you’re not working that booty on the regular by standing, and, you know, walking around, it might get weaker and lose some of its perk. (Learn how to perk up those glues with Women’s Health’s Lift to Get Lean by Holly Perkins!)
Well, that’s not great news. How do we prevent it?
“The more you sit, the more you have the chance of developing a flatter booty,” says Bales. “So the first line of defense is to stand up more.” If you have a desk-bound job, Bales recommends getting a standing desk or walking around for five minutes once every hour that you’re awake. “Standing instead of sitting increases your hip extension, and walking around improves your hip extension and flexion,” she says. In turn, better hip extension makes it easier for you to activate those glutes throughout the day and when you’re in the gym.
Want to really perk up your posterior? “Squats are the gold-standard exercise for glute activation,” says Bales. “[They] promote muscular hypertrophy—increased size—and will add to your backside over time.” Lunges will help target that area, too, she says. Just don’t expect to see a rounder booty overnight. “Each person responds to exercise differently, so give it time before you see your body filling out those apple-bottom jeans.”
Is sitting sabotaging my entire body, or just my ass?
Sitting 24/7 can certainly do damage beyond just deactivating your glute muscles. “Sitting decreases blood flow and muscle mass, and puts the body in a poor postural position,” says Bales. These problems very often lead to obesity, hypertension, low back and neck pain, and poor vital organ function, she says. Plus, people who sit for long periods of time are more at risk for strokes, heart attacks, disc herniation, and depression. “The end result? A person who sits more is more likely to sit more because it hurts to stand and move. It’s a downward spiral,” says Bales.
That desk slouch isn’t doing you any favors, either. “Sitting increases a posterior pelvic tilt, putting the back musculature and ligamentous structures around the spine on stretch, creating instability,” says Bales. In other words, when you slouch forward constantly, you risk developing a herniated, slipped, or bulging disc. But that’s not all! “Think about it: If you’re slouched forward, your lungs are getting smushed and have to work extra hard to expand,” says Bales.
This all sounds terrible, but I can’t get up and walk around or do squats at my desk every hour. What else you got?
“Sit tall, and consider placing a small towel or firm cushion under the back half of your chair,” says Bales. “Consider walking to and from work instead of driving or taking the subway.” Working out four to six days per week will also help, especially if you alternate between cardio and strength training, she says. “The best medicine is exercise, however you can get it.”