"You've got no butt," my wife said while snapping a towel at my flat ass, as I exited the shower.
"I know," I said. "It's a work in progress."
You see, I lost significant muscle in my behind because I had a hip replacement operation a few months earlier and was still on the mend. My gluteus maximus atrophied from lack of use—from a lot of sitting around on the couch recovering with Netflix and SpongeBob. It was flat as a crabby patty.
A hip replacement is a major surgery involving saws, drills, and other tools of mass construction as well as limb manipulation that would freak a yogi. My surgeon, Scott Marwin, MD, at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, NYU Langone Medical Center, told me that he had to press my right heel up against my left ear to expose the head of my right femur to resurface the bone and insert the cobalt-chromium implant.
So, you can understand why I had ample sitting-around time for my glutes to deflate like a punctured beach ball. But the same can occur to anyone simply from prolonged sitting—say, at your job or just from not being very active. (Psst! Too much sitting is just one of 21 Ways Your Job Is Making You Fat!)
It's a real problem that now has a funky name—"dormant butt syndrome"—thanks to Chris Kolba, a physical therapist at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, who coined the phrase in an interview with NPR. He says the condition occurs when your butt muscles become weak, resulting in back pain, hip pain, or knee pain.
A Cure for Shrink Ass
My own physical therapist put me on a regimen of exercises using rubber bands, weight-stack machines, and balancing drills to start re-strengthening my glutes, quads, and hamstrings. When the insurance coverage ran out, I kept rehabbing with a simple four-day-a-week exercise session I modified to do at home. And now I'm well on my way to buff butt.
These are simple moves anyone can do to reverse "dormant butt syndrome" at home or even in the office. Here's your better bottom lineup:
Get Up, Stand Up
Every half hour, get up from your desk and take a walk. I purchased a motorized UpliftDesk, which rises to standing height at the touch of a button so I could work with my glutes engaged.
Sit Against a Wall
Stand with your back pressing against a wall. Step your feet out about 18 inches from the wall and slowly lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the floor. (Be sure your feet are far enough from the wall so your shins are perpendicular to the floor and your legs form right angles.) Hold the wall sit as long as possible. Keeping muscles under tension for a length of time stimulates new muscle growth. Make it harder by lowering your hips below knee level.
Thrust Your Hips
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hand flat on the floor palms down. Push through your feet to raise your hips until your torso forms a straight line from your knees to your chest. Don't arch your back. Brace your core and squeeze your butt muscles as you hold this top position for two seconds before lowering. Repeat for a total of 6 to 8 hip bridges.
Lunge With Weight
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step back with your right foot until your toes touch the ground and then lower into a lunge. Your left knee should form a right angle; your back knee should hover about an inch above the floor. Press into the floor with your left foot and pull your hips forward to stand. Next, lunge back with your left foot. Continue alternating for a total of 10 repetitions. As you become stronger, do this exercise while holding lightweight dumbbells, soup cans or water jugs in your hands for added resistance.
Try the One-Minute-In-The-Morning Drill
This quick, vigorous interval workout of three, 20-second bursts of intense effort interspersed with longer, slow-pace recovery activity, boosts metabolism and calorie burn to spur weight loss. Check out this morning energizer routine in the new Rapid Flat Belly Plan from the editors of Eat This, Not That!