The anatomical name for the muscle group below the small of your back is gluteus maximus. Fitness instructors shorten that to glutes. But neither name captures the complicated emotions we as women have over our behinds.
The question “Does my butt look big in this?” is shorthand for the whole range of insecurities women have about their bodies.
The question “Does my butt look big in this?” is shorthand for the whole range of insecurities women have about their bodies. That Kim Kardashian has admitted to bottom-boosting injections just confuses the whole issue. Big bum equals good now? Or only if you’re a social media star with a small waist? Someone help!
But suffice it to say we care about our derrieres. We may not be going for a peach-on-steroids shape, but most of us wouldn’t mind a bit more firmness and a comfortable fit in our jeans. Is that too much to ask? No. Happily we’re offering some exercises—derived from yoga with some light weights added for more resistance and better results—that can help tone your glutes. Or your fanny. Or your rump. Dang. Whatever you call it.
Toning Exercises for Women Over 50: Easy Ground Rules
You can add these moves to your regular yoga routine. First, make sure you’re properly warmed up before you begin. For most moves, you can use light weights—2 or 3 pounds in each hand. When heavy weights are indicated, this means 5 to 9 pounds, depending on your strength (you can stay with light weights if you choose). Never go over 9 pounds in each hand. In between each session with weights, do a series of poses without weights. Suggestions: Warrior flow (warrior one, warrior two, and reverse warrior), planks, chaturanga flow to upward facing dog, mountain climbers, or push ups. Make sure to end your workout with a cool down and Savasana.
These sets should be done on the breath, as all moves in yoga are, to keep a cadence. For more of a yoga fitness workout, you can repeat this whole series two or three times.
How to Tone Your Butt: The Kick Back
With a heavy weight in each hand and your arms by your sides, get into chair pose. Hold three seconds, and as you straighten, bring the weights up in a bicep curl and kick back your leg slightly, tightening your glutes. Repeat 10 times on each side. Then, with weights by your side, hold the chair pose for 10 seconds.
The Air Angel
With a light weight in each hand by your sides, stand straight in mountain pose. As you lift your left leg up to the side, extend both arms and raise them laterally, making sure not to exceed shoulder level. Squat in between each rep. Repeat 10 times, then change to other leg to repeat another 10.
Bridge to A Better Bum
Get into bridge pose. Extend one leg straight in front of you. Place a heavy weight on your abdomen and lower your butt to the floor and up 10 times, then hold the bridge pose for 10 seconds. Switch legs for 10 more repetitions.
Get down on your left knee with your right leg extended out to the side. Hold a light weight in your right hand and press it to your thigh. Then lean to your left while raising your right leg. Repeat 10 times, then switch to the other side for 10 more repetitions.
The Flying Hamstring
Get on all fours and bend your right leg, with the sole of your foot toward the ceiling. Place a light weight in the crook behind your knee. Lift and lower your leg 10 times. Then hold raised for 10 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
After a few weeks, your rear view should look a little better.
All photos by Rebecca Bennett.
A version of this article was originally published in August 2017.