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August 23, 2022
Whether due to genetics, age, having children, weight gain or loss, or a lack of upper body muscle, sagging breasts are something no woman is immune to. And while we believe everyone should love their bodies as they are now, if you’re missing the days of firm and perky breasts (and the ability to go braless!), there are natural ways to remedy this.
Sagging breasts, referred to as breast ptosis in the medical field, is extremely common, and while you can’t alter your genetics, you can shape and lift your breasts through strength training exercises. Exercising your upper body muscles not only helps naturally lift your breasts, but it creates a toned and sculpted upper body that will send your confidence into overdrive.
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Similar to other body woes, like back fat and neck fat, there are a variety of reasons that breasts can begin to sag. The main culprits are aging, genetics, little or no exercise, posture, gravity, lack of proper support, breakdown of elastin fibers from smoking, weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and having larger breasts. Let’s dig into each in greater detail.
Unfortunately, there’s no escaping getting older. And as we age, our bone mass and collagen decline, and our skin loses elasticity. Over time, this gives the body a more saggy or wrinkled look1.
The Cooper’s ligaments, made up of collagen, are responsible for maintaining the shape of your breasts. As collagen decreases with age, this can cause the breasts to droop.
What we inherit from our parents and ancestors is the luck of the draw. Some factors that are genetically determined are the strength of your Cooper’s ligament, breast size, skin resiliency, and general body type.
Determining your genetics essentially sets the tone for you to determine what you're working with or things you'll potentially need to address through strength training.
Strengthening the upper body isn’t always a women’s top exercise choice. You may have a fear that strength training will make you look more manly (this won’t happen, we promise!), be unsure of what exercises to perform, or opt for cardio only instead.
And although no muscle exists in the breast, they connect to the surrounding muscle tissue. This means it’s critical to strengthen these muscles to give yourself the best chance of fighting breast ptosis. Fortunately, there are a number of great workout splits for women to choose from.
Slouching or poor posture isn’t something that will affect you overnight. Over time, this increases the gravitational pull on the Cooper’s ligament, and everything begins to stretch and sag. And unfortunately, those who have bad posture may not even realize it’s happening. In addition to the exercises below, emphasizing back exercises for women can also help address posture problems.
During exercise, adequate support is vital to fight sagging breasts. Wearing a sports bra that is fitted correctly is a seemingly easy fix not only to prevent bouncing but also to prevent pain.
A study found that women who wore a sports bra during exercise, compared to a group who didn’t wear one, had a significantly lower breast pain score2.
There are a million health reasons to stop smoking immediately. As far as aesthetics go, it breaks down elastin, the protein that gives your skin a youthful appearance and firm support. Drop this habit immediately to protect your skin (and pretty much everything else in or on your body)!
Rapid weight gain or loss will stretch the skin and ligaments that support your breasts. Along with that, being overweight or obese can cause sagging issues. A study showed that breast satisfaction scores were higher when the participants were physically active and had a lower BMI. It also directly decreased as BMI increased3.
Not only can weight gain cause droopier breasts, but breastfeeding adds a whole new round of sagging issues. After breastfeeding, the fatty tissue in the breast shrinks, and this leads to sagging as well. Fortunately, between these exercises and our best diastasis recti exercises, you'll be to help your body adjust post-pregnancy.
Studies show that women with larger breasts are at higher risk of sagging, poor posture, and upper body pain4.
Exercise has endless benefits, and fortunately, the ability to tighten and lift the surrounding breast muscle tissue is one of them. This will, in turn, raise and tighten your breasts, helping to change your breast shape.
As little as eight weeks of strength training and focusing on muscle hypertrophy can make significant changes. It reduces stretched-out muscles, strengthens weak muscles, increases blood flow, relaxes the antagonist's muscles, and increases neck mobility. This shows a significant improvement and decreases issues from sagging breasts5.
Strength training is king for building the surrounding tissue of the breasts. However, diet and nutrition also play a huge role in breast firming.
Eating a balanced healthy diet will help strengthen your body's biggest muscle: your skin. Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen, which is essential for firmer breasts and healthy skin and hair. Strawberries and oranges are an easy way to add some more vitamin C to your diet.
Dieting is also crucial for maintaining healthy body weight, BMI, and fat percentage. We won’t dive too deep into this today, but if you want to take your weight loss or muscle gain seriously, you have to know how much you eat to track progress. Consider checking out the Metabolic Confusion Diet if you're hoping to lose weight.
Speaking of muscle gain and toning your body, let’s get back to what will do that for you.
The chest muscles are on top of the collarbones and rib cage but fall beneath the breast tissue. The breast has no muscle and comprises fat cells (this determines the size), connective tissue, the nipple, milk duct, and lobes.
The breasts are connected to the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor by the Cooper’s ligament we discussed earlier. The pec major is the biggest and spans from the armpit to the collarbone and across the lower chest area. The pec minor is under the pec major and runs up and down along the ribs. Strengthening the pec muscles is crucial for lifted breasts, but keep in mind you don't need fancy equipment to make this happen. Even bodyweight chest exercises will help you build muscle.
Even though they are not directly connected, the back muscles play a huge role in balancing the chest muscles and helping with overall posture. The trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, rotator cuff, and deltoids must be strengthened to prevent muscle imbalances.
Often neglected, these upper body muscles will help you move pain-free and lift your breasts.
Now you need to know which exercises will help the most.
The bench press is the best compound movement for strengthening the pec muscles, and we love it as an exercise to lift breasts. Whether you opt for the barbell variation, or choose the dumbbell chest press, either option will lift and firm.
Barbells will allow you to go heavier with weights, while dumbbells will allow for a greater range of motion and increased muscle tension. This exercise is also awesome for the upper arms, particularly your triceps.
How to do the Chest Press:
The push up is one of those fantastic whole body bodyweight exercises that gets great results. We also love it as a move to keep in our chest exercise arsenal.
Mastering this move will teach your body how to control and shape the chest muscles. This move acts as a great workout finisher as it sends more blood to your pectoral muscles for an awesome pump.
How to do Push-Ups:
This variation is a great upper chest exercise and is vital in shaping the muscles of that area. You want to hit these muscles from every angle as this gives you the best results for fighting sagging breasts.
How to do Cable Flys:
The pullover will target the chest and the lats, making it great for drooping breasts. It also hits the small stabilizer muscles that support good posture. This isolation exercise will give the muscles an extreme (in a good way) chest stretch that will help perk up the surrounding area. For an alternative equipment option, you can also use a medicine ball for this exercise.
How to do Dumbbell Pullovers:
If you have poor posture due to rounded shoulders and a weak lower back, your hunched over appearance is going to create the appearance of even saggier breasts. The exercise to help remedy this? The superman.
This is great for strengthening the back and rear shoulders, helping to correct bad posture and in turn, create perkier-looking breasts. Once you master the bodyweight version, add a medicine ball to keep building muscle!
How to do the Superman:
This horizontal pulling exercise will target the traps and rhomboids, which are strong posture muscles. When strengthened, they will pull your shoulders back into a good position, creating breasts that appear firmer.
And although we’re focusing on lifting the breasts and hitting the pecs today, you always want to ensure your back muscles are stronger to prevent injuries and imbalances.
Looking for more variation? Try any one of these seated cable row alternatives.
How to do Seated Rows:
We already hit our horizontal pulling motion, so this will function as the vertical pull, primarily targeting the lats. Even though it doesn’t directly activate the chest, strengthening the back muscles in all positions will ensure your body is balanced and robust. This is why including back workouts in your routine is so important!
You can swap this move for pull-ups, but the weight used during the pull-down will be better for toning the muscles. You can also adjust your grip so it's wider or more narrow to hit your muscles at different angles.
How to do Lat Pull Downs:
You’ll get a ton of bang for your buck with this awesome upper body exercise. It targets the core muscles, front of the shoulders, strengthens your upper back's ability to rotate, and opens up and activates your chest.
The benefits of core stability training are endless. Remember, if your upper body gets tight and cannot move as it needs to, you’ll be in pain and have less range of motion when trying to build your breast lifting muscles.
We suggest using bodyweight when first beginning this move, and then make it more challenging by incorporating a push up before the rotation or holding dumbbells for extra weight during your rotation.
How to do Front to Side Plank:
The chest opener is an excellent tool for your toolbox if you have rounded shoulders, a tight upper back, and tight chest muscles. This will put your body in a position to stretch your pecs, while alleviating tension in your upper back.
As a result, you'll have better posture, which will naturally help with breast firming, and enable your pecs a greater range of motion when strength training.
How to do the Chest Opener:
A timed dead hang will help reset your shoulder position and assist with correcting poor posture. This will also strengthen the lats, grip muscles, and shoulders. This and the chest opener are crucial to ensure your posture is top-notch.
How to the Dead Hang:
Balance is essential, and you want to make sure you aren’t committing to too much right away if you haven’t been training. You should get a minimum of 2 chest exercises, two back exercises, 2 posture correcting exercises, and an appropriate leg workout and core work each week. Try for 2-3 days a week until you are consistent.
Aim for 2-3 sets and 10-15 repetitions of each while increasing weight and feeling the muscles working better each week.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Another option you can consider is breast implants. But keep in mind that while this can make your breasts perkier, the underlying issues remain. It’s still important to strength train, eat right, and address all posture imbalances (we love these posture improvement exercises to help with this) to ensure gravity doesn’t take over. This is especially true the bigger you decide to go with your implants.
Some holistic options include massaging rosemary and olive oil onto your breasts to help keep the skin from becoming dry and loose. This will also help improve collagen in the area.
Collagen supplements are another option that may help (particularly when combined with our exercise suggestions). Several supplements will help improve your skin and keep it healthy, including fenugreek and vitamin E - both are popular, cost-effective options.
Remember, not only will strength training help you achieve naturally lifted breasts, but it is also just plain good for you. You’ll build muscle, which will help improve your daily activities, speed up your metabolism, and create a toned upper body. Perky breasts and a sculpted, healthy physique? Sounds like reason enough to start including these exercises!
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