A proud, perky rear end makes a good lasting impression as you're walking out the door. However, with age many people start to lose the lift in their rear end for two reasons: loss of muscle tone and excess fat.
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Here's the good news, though — you can lift a saggy butt with the right exercise plan and a healthy diet. The bad news is that there's no quick and easy fix for a saggy rear end. You've got to lose fat and gain muscle, both of which take time and effort.
Building the muscles of your rear end is crucial for fixing a saggy butt. Your tush is made up of three muscles, collectively called "the glutes." The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body. The other two important butt muscles are the gluteus medius and minimus. You need to grow the size of these three muscles to lift and firm your butt.
You're going to want to do them and lots of them. According to trainer and author Mike Matthews, the squat is the "single most effective movement" for building lower-body muscularity.
There are many types of squats you can do, starting with the standard bodyweight squat and then adding weight for back squats, front squats and sumo squats. Single-leg squats are a more challenging progression that can be done with or without weights.
A couple of tips for getting the most out of your squats:
Squat deep: Research shows that the deeper you squat, the higher the activation of the gluteus maximums. Get to parallel or below parallel.
Widen your stance: Studies show higher activation of the gluteus maximus when a squat is performed with a wide stance versus a narrow or medium stance. Take your feet out to 125 to 150 percent of your shoulder-width. Point your toes out slightly to accommodate the wider stance.
Squeeze at the top: Voluntarily contract your glutes throughout the exercise, but especially at the top of your squat, to really activate them.
This move is the next best butt exercise you can do. It's a more technical lift that requires practice. Doing a deadlift with improper form can lead to injury. Again, squeeze the glutes at the top.
To build the glutes, also do hip thrusts, starting without weight and gradually adding weight via a heavy bag, band or barbell. Do double-leg and single-leg thrusts.
Other great exercises for butt-building include step ups, lunges, side-lying hip abduction, fire hydrants and cable kickbacks.
Aim to work your glutes two to three times per week as part of a total-body strength-training routine. For muscle growth, do three to six sets in the eight- to 12-rep range of each exercise. Choose a weight that's challenging enough that your glutes feel very fatigued by the last rep.
Read more: 17 Exercises to Shape and Tone Your Booty
Lose the Fat
Muscle is firm to the touch and stays in place -- it doesn't sag. But if you have excess body fat, it hangs off the muscle, causing the rear end to look saggy and soft. Losing fat is a necessary part of fixing a saggy butt.
However, you can't spot-reduce. You can't just target your butt for fat loss. Chances are if you have excess butt fat, you have excess fat in other areas of your body. To lose fat throughout the whole body, you have get your body in a caloric deficit so you're eating fewer calories each day than you're burning. Building muscle helps rev your metabolism so you burn more calories all day long. Lowering your calorie intake with a healthy diet and doing cardio will help you increase the deficit.
Any type of cardio burns calories, but some types are better than others for targeting the butt. Running, stair climbing and incline walking are some of the best butt-blasting forms of cardio. Cycling, spinning, elliptical training and step aerobics are also winners.
For burning fat and building muscle, high-intensity interval training is your best bet. This involves doing short bursts of intense activity, followed by a slower recovery period. For example, alternating jogging and sprinting on the treadmill -- one minute jogging, one minute sprinting, and then repeat. Do this for about 30 minutes, including a warm up and cool down. You can also do intervals on a bike, stair climber and elliptical.