MATT ROBERTS: How to have a ball… and a pert behind

Q. I am a very fit 72-year-old, and exercise every week, for example, doing yoga and keep-fit classes using weights. My problem is a flabby bottom. What sort of exercises should I be doing? Recently my daughter-in-law was getting rid of one of those huge balls used in Pilates. Would that help?

A. Many women come to me asking for a more pert, firmer bottom. It’s a good thing to want to tackle, because the problem is not simply cosmetic.

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The gluteus maximus muscles are the largest in the body, so loss of mass there takes away a very high calorie-burning muscle group.

It also reduces stability around the hips and alters your posture negatively.

Weak buttocks can put undue stress on the hamstrings, making all sorts of leg injuries more likely.

So, here are two very simple exercises that will, if done as part of your overall plan, improve strength and tone to the glutes and hamstrings, and hopefully help to give some shape back.

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Bridge exercises, pictured, are a simple way to strengthen and tone the glutes and hamstrings

Both can be done with the stability ball described above, and they’re good whatever age you are:

Hamstring Curls

  • Lie on your back with legs straight and calves and heels resting on top of the ball. Your arms should be palm down, flat on the floor beside you.
  • Raise your body off the ground so that you have a pretty straight line through your body, with only your head and shoulders on the ground and your legs on the ball.
  • Now pull the ball towards your bottom by bending your knees. Keep your body high off the ground at all times and try to raise the body too, as you pull the ball towards yourself. Once you have pulled in as far as you can, push away again back out to the start position.
  • Repeat this ten to 15 times or more if you can.

Bridge

  • Stay in the same position on the floor with the ball under your straightened legs. Start with your bottom just off the ground, and then raise your body as high towards the ceiling as possible, keeping your legs straight, and tense your bottom as you do so.
  • Once you reach your maximum height, lower again to the start position just off the ground.
  • Carry out 15 to 25 reps for three to four sets.

Q. I have thin legs and arms but a 39in waist. My weight of 11.5 stone is bad, but it is all on my stomach. So, gym or starve? I am 80.

A. To find out for sure if 11.5 stone is an appropriate weight, you can look at your body mass index (BMI) score, which is a radio of height to weight that is used as a medical guideline to tell us if a person is under- or overweight, or obese.

There are online calculators that do the tricky equation for you, including one on nhs.uk.

However the weight distribution you describe – with fat primarily around the waist – may be a cause for concern.

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