If you've always thought cellulite was something that could perhaps only be temporarily fixed with creams or lotions, this exclusive workout routine will change your mind.
And if you've blamed your diet, fat or even trapped "toxins" for your cellulite, we'll explain why you've been blaming all the wrong suspects and what you can really do about the dimpled skin on your hips, thighs and butt. In other words, if nothing's ever worked before, this will: the Anti-Cellulite Workout.
"Cellulite is not a cosmetic issue," says Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., director of research programs at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Mass., and the mastermind behind the workout. "It's an issue of having too much fat and too little muscle. Putting effort into the right exercise program can produce big changes in your cellulite situation and major improvements in your appearance."
To that end, Westcott and his colleague, Rita La Rosa Loud, have created this program, based on the years of research that forms the basis of their book No More Cellulite (Perigee, 2003). Based on Westcott's program, SHAPE put 18 test subjects through a 40-minute cardio and dumbbell workout, three days a week for eight weeks. The results of the SHAPE study and the No More Cellulite studies were absolutely amazing; the women shed an average of 3.3 pounds of fat, gained an average of 2 pounds of muscle and noticeably reduced their cellulite -- without dieting. (Those who also followed an eating plan lost almost three times as much fat and 6 more pounds than the exercise-only group. See "The Cellulite Solution Eating Plan" for details.) The keys to their success? Losing fat and building muscle. So, if you have cellulite -- or want to prevent its appearance later -- these anti cellulite exercises are for you. They’re quick, effective and proven to work.
Here’s the workout routine that helps you to blast away cellulite.
Basic anti cellulite exercises: Just 20 minutes of cardio, strength and flexibility exercise, three days a week, it focuses on lower-body strength training with machines. It also includes supplementary stretching (which ultimately helps to build strength) and 10 minutes of cardio work to burn additional calories and thus reduce fat.
Extended anti cellulite exercises: For faster results, Westcott encourages 40 minutes, three times a week, including a longer cardio workout and more weight training to build overall body strength. It works best if you do it in a gym with weight machines, so you can "isolate each muscle (group) and increase weight at almost every workout," Westcott says.
"If you must work out at home, stick with leg moves like squats and lunges, and use as much resistance (dumbbells, tubing) as possible."
Warm-up: 2 minutes on a treadmill, bicycle, stair climber or elliptical trainer
Cardio: 8 minutes at 70 percent (or more) of your maximum heart rate. You should be breathing hard but able to talk.
Strength: Do 1 set of each exercise, fatiguing the target muscle in 10–15 reps. Making sure to use correct form, add 5 percent more resistance at nearly every workout. Each rep should take 2 seconds up, 4 seconds down.
Stretching: When you finish a set of one exercise, stretch that muscle. Westcott’s research has found that this builds muscle faster. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds.
Cool-down: 2 minutes.
Shape.com uncovers myths that will help you get rid of cellulite.
"I'm 20 pounds overweight but have no cellulite; my friend is rail-thin and has lots of it. My husband has none. What's up with that?" Think of the legs and butt as quilts. The quilt's top piece of fabric is your skin, the stuffing is your fat and the stitches are the fibrous attachments that course through the fat and attach to the underside of the skin, says Lisa Donofrio, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine. The fewer of these fibrous attachments one has, the more likely the skin will lie smoothly.
"The size and thickness of the cellulite attachments are genetically and sexually determined," Donofrio says. "Men have sparser, thinner fibrous bands than women." Age also leads to thicker bands, Donofrio continues, and those changes are compounded by loss of skin elasticity and integrity. Your friend may have more of these fibrous attachments, making dimpling more obvious. Other people, like you, have few enough to have dimple-free skin, even if there's a layer of fat. Meanwhile, if you have enough muscle (as men often do and as you might), your skin may lie more smoothly atop the fat layer.
"If I bust my butt on the treadmill, I won’t get any more cellulite, right?" "Remember, cardiovascular work is not enough to develop the muscles of your lower body," says fitness researcher Wayne Westcott, Ph.D. To see a difference in cellulite, you must strengthen key lower-body muscles. The most effective way is with anti cellulite exercises that isolate and fatigue each muscle during your workout routine.
"Aren't there creams or massage treatments that get rid of cellulite?"
Creams, such as those with caffeine, irritate some skin or dehydrate it, which does change cellulite's appearance, says Donofrio. The problem? You must use them consistently to maintain the look.
Massage and kneading treatments (such as Endermologie) also help some women but, again, results are temporary. You have to keep going back for treatments (and they're not cheap). Plus, you're only making a difference in the appearance of the cellulite, not in its actual existence.
"Will toxins from my diet give me cellulite?" No. "Cellulite has nothing to do with trapped toxins," says Lisa Donofrio. It reflects a pattern of fat storage and skin tone. Some fat is stored as a sheet; some is stored as clumps (cellulite). "The appearance of fat changes as we age because we lose muscle and skin tone," says Westcott. Dimpling occurs mainly because skin thins with age and we have less muscle than we need to maintain good tone.
"But I thought cellulite was an issue for cosmetic surgeons, not exercise specialists." Donofrio, who performs numerous body-contouring procedures, says that people who turn to cosmetic surgery to get rid of cellulite are going down the wrong road. "Cellulite exists in the uppermost part of the superficial fat layer," she says. "Liposuction sucks out fat beneath there. You can get liposuction and still have cellulite." So far, anecdotal evidence suggests that some of the most stubborn cases of cellulite are in thin women who don't exercise and have little muscle tone and thin skin.