Despite flapping your arms and rhythmically chanting, "We must, we must, we must increase our bust!" no physical exercise actually increases breast size. Sorry, Judy Blume. By improving your posture, though, Pilates can help you show off your "girls" to their best advantage. Pilates exercises that target the muscles in your chest can help give your breasts a perkier appearance.
Anatomy of The Breasts
You might refer to them as "mammary glands," but the fact is that little of the tissue in your breast is actually glandular. True, the breasts are designed to produce human milk, but only if you happen to be pregnant or lactating. Most of the structure of your breast is composed of adipose tissue, also known simply as fat. The size of your breasts is influenced by your genetic inheritance -- thanks, Mom and Dad -- but also by how much body fat you carry. Your breasts are attached to your body via thin, short ligaments that help to anchor them to the underlying skin and muscles of your chest.
Upper Body Strength
Since your breasts are resting on muscles, if you make those muscles bigger, your breasts will look bigger, right? Well, not necessarily; if you lose significant amounts of body fat while strength training, you may end up with smaller breasts but well-defined chest muscles. The good news is that increasing the strength and size of your chest muscles -- the pectoralis major and minor -- may give you a slight lift. By adding a little bulk underneath the skin, the ligaments suspending your breasts may be pulled a bit tighter, helping your girls resist gravity. The end result: perkier breasts, which may not be actually bigger, but certainly look better. Pilates pushups are an excellent exercise to target your pectorals.
Posture Perfect A: The Spine
You live a good chunk of your life slouching in a seated position. Whether in your car, at work or on the couch, you are constantly rounding your upper back and collapsing your chests. To see just how much poor posture de-emphasizes your bust, sit down in a chair and exaggerate your slouch, really slump down, thrusting your head and shoulders forward. Now look down. Where are your nipples pointing? Next, sit on the edge of that chair and lengthen up through your spine, aiming for perfect posture, lightly squeezing your shoulder blades together. Now where are your high beams flashing? Good posture shows off your breasts to their best advantage regardless of their size. Numerous Pilates exercises target improving the entire muscular structure supporting the spine, including roll downs, roll ups, the hundred and Pilates swimming.
Posture Perfect B: Your Upper Back and Rear Shoulders
Your deltoids, or shoulder muscles, have three parts: front, middle and rear. The posterior head of the shoulder muscle, or rear delt, helps draw your shoulders and arms backward. Additionally, your upper back muscles, known as rhomboids, can be held to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Training these muscles improves your posture, which in turn improves the appearance of your upper body. Pilates rowing, the Saw, the Swan, and swimming all hit this often neglected area. A regular Pilates practice might not add inches to your bust, but can certainly allow you to look your best.
Amy Kreger has a Masters degree in health and physical activity and is an adjunct professor instructing anatomy and physiology at the college level. For more than 10 years she has also taught most forms of group exercise, from aerobic dance to group cycling and from kickboxing to yoga.