What is the best exercise for cellulite? Many women suffer from the cottage cheese-looking lumps of fat visible through the skin, but few agree on the best way to tackle the problem.
What Is Cellulite?
While cellulite may look like a different animal than, say a man's beer gut (smooth and round vs. a myriad of tiny bumps and dents), the truth is that cellulite is just the same old body fat. The difference lies in the storage.
Men tend to have fewer fat deposits on the rear and thighs and instead focus on the gut (where growing fat cells are more padded and thus don't "shine through" the skin as easily) while the thighs tend to "push out" the lumps. In conjunction with generally thinner skin, that creates the traditional orange peel look.
The good news is you can do a lot to decrease the appearance of cellulite. As a rule, expensive cosmetics are a waste of money, but a low-tech, two-pronged exercise and diet strategy will decrease overall body fat, which in turn will decrease the appearance of cellulite.
Exercise for Cellulite
For exercise, you'll need to focus on three different types for the best results: weight training, interval training and low-intensity cardiovascular training. Weight training helps build your muscles and hike basic metabolism for a sustained period of time. Interval training creates an immediate metabolism boost and enhances cardiovascular capacity, while low intensity cardio burns off the bulk of the calories.
Train hard and make it count. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on compound exercises that hit multiple muscle groups. If you're comfortable using free weights, try squats, deadlifts, bench presses, military presses and other basic staples like these. If you're comfortable using machines, you may do so, but be aware that you still have to work hard.
Aim for two to three sets of six or seven exercises hitting different major muscle groups. Use moderate weights that allow you to do 8-12 reps using strict form. If you can do more, use heavier weights. If you're not certain of how to perform an exercise, consult with an instructor.
If you've played organized sports, you probably remember the sadistic drills the coach would roll out where you had to alternate between regular jogs and sudden sprints. That's interval training, and the name of the game is to switch between moderate aerobic exercise and all-out anaerobic exercise frequently and suddenly enough to nudge you firmly out of your comfort zone. The easiest way to go begin interval training is to simply set your regular cardio machine to a minute of radically higher pace for a minute every few minutes, or just go outside and hit the jogging trail with an interval timer. As a general rule, you should either match or double the amount of time spent on an intense interval when it's time for the lower-intensity section of your interval training. If you sprint for one minute, jog at a slower pace for one to two minutes. Note: If you're a beginner, you may want to ease into the max-effort portion of the training. When in doubt, ask your doctor.
Low Intensity Cardiovascular Training
Finally, this is the regular cardio where you simply get on a treadmill or Stairmaster, set the desired time/calorie goal and plod away until it the machine goes beep. If you're on a treadmill, set the incline to at least 1.0 so that it mimics walking on flat ground outside. With no incline at all, a walk on the treadmill is easier than a walk around the track or your neighborhood and may not give you the best results. If you get bored with your low intensity cardio, you can mix it up with:
- Taking a jog or brisk walk around the park
- Taking a long, leisurely bike ride
- A DVD, like Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds
Two Sample Weekly Programs
When tying the three cellulite-blasting exercise components together, a couple of sample programs could include:
If you're a normal person just looking for a way to make the thigh dimples less noticeable, but you have limited time and don't harbor hopes for a supermodel contract anytime soon, this is the program for you.
- Monday: 30 minutes weight training, followed by 30 minutes cardio
- Tuesday: 60 minutes cardio
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: 30 minutes weight training, followed by 30 minutes cardio
- Friday: 30 minutes interval training
- Saturday: 60 minutes cardio
- Sunday: Rest
If you're serious and really want exercise for cellulite destruction, this is your program. Note: Since you do more weight training, you may want to alternate so you train upper body one day, then legs the next, and so on, so that you never train the same body parts two days in a row.
- Monday morning: 60 minutes cardio
- Monday evening: 30 minutes weight training, followed by 30 minutes cardio
- Tuesday: 30 minutes interval training, followed by 30 minutes cardio
- Wednesday morning: 60 minutes cardio
- Wednesday evening: 30 minutes weight training, followed by 30 minutes cardio
- Thursday: 30 minutes interval training, followed by 30 minutes cardio
- Friday morning: 60 minutes cardio
- Friday evening: 30 minutes weight training, followed by 30 minutes cardio
- Saturday: 30 minutes weight training, followed by 30 minutes cardio
- Sunday: Rest
Combined with a well-balance, low-fat diet, the combination of strength training and cardio will help diminish cellulite. Before starting your new cellulite-blasting routine, consult with your doctor. Once you get the green light to proceed, stay dedicated and you may be amazed by your results. In addition, you'll be stronger and have more energy to make it through the day.