Published July 30, 2012
Sound too good to be true? Targeting your hips, thighs, and stomach these eight exercises tone and strengthen the troublesome spots where cellulite likes to linger. The mix of exercises alleviates boredom and 20 minutes can be tucked into a television show. Combine these moves with a healthy diet and cardio work and you'll be breaking out the bikini in no time.
Cottage cheese thighs. Seems that no matter how much you diet or how much money you spend on products and potions, those ugly, orange-peel bumps are still there, stuck to your bottom half and impossible to conquer.
Well, get ready to win! We're going to show you how to shed cellulite without expensive wraps, creams, or supplements. The best part: It takes only 20 minutes, 3 days a week.
"With the right exercise plan, you can reduce cellulite and make your lower body look smoother and firmer," says Prevention advisor Wayne L. Westcott, who recently developed the Cellulite Solution Exercise Plan. "When we put 16 women ages 26 to 66 on our program for 8 weeks, all of them reported less cellulite in their lower body. And 70 percent of them reported a lot less."
It wasn't just wishful thinking. On average, the women lost just over 3 lb of fat, added 2 1/2 lb of muscle, and shed almost 1 1/2 inches from their hips. What's more, ultrasound tests confirmed it. Overall, the women shrank the lumpy fat layer on their thighs by 1.3 millimeters and increased smooth muscle tissue in the same area by 1.8 mm. It doesn't sound like much, but it definitely made their legs look smoother and firmer.
The Truth About Cellulite
The best part of this program is that it puts to rest the mistaken notion that cellulite is some mysterious condition. Despite what you've heard about trapped toxins or poor circulation being to blame, cellulite is one thing--fat. It just looks different because of how it's arranged.
Everyone has strands of connective tissue that separate fat cells into compartments and connect fat tissue to skin. In women, these fibers form a honeycomb-like pattern, so any increase of fat in a given area tends to bulge. You don't see cellulite in men because their fibers run in a horizontal, criss-cross pattern that prevents bulging or dimpling.
So why does cellulite seem to appear out of nowhere and get worse as we get older? There are two reasons. First, it's because tissue changes. Those strands of connective tissue thicken with age, and our skin gets thinner, says Dr. Katie Rodan, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford University. "The combined effect is more pronounced cellulite," she explains.
Second, and more important, the average woman loses 5 pound of muscle and replaces it with about 15 pound of fat every decade of her adult life, says Westcott. "Because fat is exceptionally soft, it doesn't keep our skin taut like muscle does. It also takes up more space, so it bulges out."
To get rid of cellulite, you have to reduce the underlying fat stores and replace lost muscle tissue. "You won't find a cellulite cure in cosmetic products or procedures," says Dr. Jeffrey Sklar, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University in New York City. "But the more muscle tone you have, the less of a problem it will be."
The Cellulite Solution Exercise Plan
Follow this 3-step, 20-minute program 3 days a week, and watch those ripples disappear.
Step 1: Cardio--Warm up with 2 minutes of moderate walking, cycling, or stairclimbing (you can use indoor stationary machines). Increase intensity for 8 minutes. Work vigorously enough to be breathing hard but still able to talk in short sentences. Lower the intensity, and cool down for 2 minutes.
Step 2: Strength--Do one set of 10 to 15 repetitions of each of the following exercises, using a heavy enough weight to fatigue the muscles. (This is essential for optimum muscle building in these areas.) Your muscles are fatigued when you feel as though you can't do even one more repetition. When you can easily complete 15 reps, increase the weight slightly. Work slowly, counting 2 seconds to lift and 4 seconds to lower.
Step 3: Flexibility-- After each strength training exercise, you need to stretch the muscle you just worked. Do each stretch once, holding for 20 seconds. Dr. Westcott has found that adopting this stretching strategy can boost strength training results by 20 percent.
Dumbell Squat and Lunge
Stand with your back to a chair and your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold dumbbells down by your sides, palms facing in. Keeping your back straight, bend from the knees and hips as though you are sitting down. Don't let your knees move forward over your toes. Stop just shy of touching the chair, then stand back up.
Follow with a lying hamstring stretch: Lying faceup, with legs extended, use a towel or rope to pull each leg in toward your chest. Don't lock your knee.
Standing with your feet together, hold dumbbells down at your sides with palms facing in. Take one big step forward with your right leg. Plant your right foot, then slowly lower your left knee toward the floor. Your right knee should be at a 90-degree angle, and your back straight. Press into your right foot, and push yourself back to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg.
Follow with a standing quadriceps stretch: Standing straight, gently pull your right foot toward your butt. Repeat with the left leg.
Advanced Step-Up and Scissors
Using an aerobic step or regular step and holding dumbbells, start with both feet on the step. Keeping your left foot planted on the step, step off the back with your right foot. Before touching the floor, press up with your left leg to bring the right one up again. Repeat for one set, then switch legs.
Follow with a lying glute stretch: Lying faceup with legs extended, alternately pull each knee (grasping behind the thigh) toward your chest.
Tie an exercise band loosely just above your knees. Lie on your back with your arms down at your sides, and extend both legs straight up directly above your hips; your feet should be spread wide enough that the band is taut. Slowly open your legs as far as you can. Pause when the tension becomes too great to pull any farther, then slowly close back to the starting position.
Follow with a lying figure-four stretch. Lying faceup, cross your right ankle over your left knee, and pull your left leg (from behind the thigh) toward your chest. Switch legs.