Cardio definitely helps to improve on cellulite, but, as with products, it’s not the whole answer. Cellulite responds best to a lifestyle that includes exercise, balanced diet, great deep drainage cellulite creams and oils and plenty of still water. If you can sneak deep tissue or lymphatic massage in all the better.
Exercise generally is key. This is partly because you can target certain areas of your body to work them harder and deeper, and because being active generally stimulates your lymph, one of your main allies in reducing and preventing cellulite.
Back to cardio. Which types of cardio will impact most on cellulite?
First, right up there, running. And running at pace rather than jogging. This is because running fast and sprinting help to build length into the muscle in your legs, streamlining them and pockets of fat where fluid is retained and causes cellulite. While running fast may not be right for us all, walking helps too, as does cycling and swimming, which are anaerobic forms of exercise – so help the body produce energy without oxygen – because all of these strengthen the heart and lungs while helping to burn calories.
Another good form of anaerobic exercise, especially if you are looking to lose some weight, is HIIT interval training. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and involves a combination of high and low intensity exercise with a period of rest. It’s said to burn more calories than cardio both during and after exercising, a phenomenon known as the ‘afterburn effect’, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect.
Many trainers recommend a combination of cardio, HIIT and strength training exercises 4-7 days a week as this helps to achieve weight loss and prevent muscle loss. It’s especially helpful in your more mature years when muscle loss can accelerate.
You’ll want to mix up moderate and high intensity cardio too. That means one day you could go for an hour’s walk and another day you could do a 20 minute high intensity work out. Variation helps to keep you motivated too.
On specific gym days, these are the 5 top exercises to strengthen and streamline your lower body:
Step ups – works glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and core muscles. They also help improve your balance:
- Stand two feet in front of a secured box or bench. Be sure the surface will not move.
- Lift your right foot on top of the box/bench. Your hips, knees, and ankles should all be at 90-degree angles. This is the starting position.
- Next, push your right foot into the box/bench and squeeze your glutes to lift your body up. Instead of putting your left foot on top of the box/bench, keep it in the air.
- Then, lower your body back down. This is one rep.
- Continue this for 15–20 reps, then switch feet.
Curtsy lunge – works gutes (especially gluteus medius), quadriceps, calves and core muscles. The key to a round booty is to work all sides of the glute muscle. The curtsy lunge hits the gluteus medius (important for hip and knee stabilisation) in addition to engaging your quads and hamstrings.
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms bent comfortably in front of you for balance.
- Bracing your core and keeping your chest up, step backwards with your right leg, crossing over the midline so your right foot lands at a diagonal behind you — as you would if you were curtsying. Bend both legs so your back knee comes down toward the floor.
- After a brief pause, push through your left heel and squeeze your glutes to return to the starting position. This is one rep.
- Complete 8–12 reps, then switch sides. Take a rest and then complete two more sets.
Lateral lunge – works auadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves. The lateral lunge targets many lower body muscles and is a great functional movement.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Starting with your left leg, take a big step to the side — bending your left knee and pretending like you’re sitting back into a chair — and raise your arms out in front of you simultaneously for balance. Your right leg should remain straight.
- Do a form-check here: Your chest should be up and your bottom back and down, really targeting glutes and hamstrings. This exercise takes quite a bit of flexibility and mobility in your hips, so don’t force anything that doesn’t feel right.
- Return to the starting position by pushing up from your right foot. Complete 8–12 reps on this side, then switch legs and repeat 8–12 reps on the other.
Bulgarian split squat – works quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. This single-leg exercise helps to build a strong butt and improve your balance. For an added challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand:
- Stand two feet away from a step or bench facing away from it.
- Bend your left leg and place the top of your foot on the bench/step. This will be your starting position.
- Next, bend your right knee and lower your body as low as you can go. Be sure to keep your chest, hips, and shoulders facing forward.
- Press down into your right heel to return to the starting position. This is one rep.
- Complete 8–12 reps or 2–3 sets.
5. Reverse lunge – works glutes, hamstrings and core muscles and are a good option to Bulgarian split squats:
- Stand hip-width apart with your hands on your hips.
- Shift your weight to your left foot and take a large step back with your right foot.
- With the ball of your right foot touching the ground and heel up, lower your right leg until your thigh is perpendicular to the ground and your right knee is at a 90-degree angle. Your left knee should also be bent 90-degrees.
- Push into your heel and squeeze your glutes to lift your body back to starting position. This is one rep.
- Complete 8–12 reps for 2–3 sets.