Best Exercises for Cellulite

Before you read on and get stuck into the fat and cellulite burning exercises below, let’s get a quick insight into what cellulite actually is. 

When your fat cells expand and change, they push against the connective tissues beneath your skin, which then show up through the collagen fibres as a dimpled texturing, generally on the bum, hips, belly and thighs. 

Cellulite is completely natural, harmless and extremely common with around 90% of all women experiencing it throughout their lives no matter how big or small they are – because cellulite isn’t an indication of being overweight.

There are lots of ways to get rid of cellulite that range from expensive to totally free. You’ve got cosmetic procedures, massage oils and massage tools, fixing your diet by eating cellulite-burning foods, exercise – and there are so many options within each category to suit every budget and lifestyle!

We’re going to be taking a look at some of the best exercises to be doing while you’re trying to fight the fat that causes cellulite and explaining why they work so well. Read on to get your perfect workout for smoother skin.

Nail the basics first

Before we get into the good stuff, you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to give your body the best chance to utilise any workouts you do to combat cellulite.

  • Stay hydrated – Water is your body’s natural way of flushing out toxins from everyday life. These toxins inhibit your body’s ability to process and remove fat correctly, meaning cellulite is more likely to form. Aim for 2.7 litres of water a day if you’re a woman, and 3.7 litres for men to avoid forming unnecessary cellulite.
  • Eat a healthy diet – Foods that are high in antioxidants, omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, but low in salt, sugar and refined carbs, are going to be your best friend. Veggies, berries, oily fish and lean meats are perfect for avoiding cellulite.
  • Use cellulite creams and massagers – A good quality cellulite cream or oil teamed with a cellulite massager are an excellent combo to break down the fatty deposits forming your lumps and bumps. Aiming for a thorough massage session a few times a week on all your cellulite-affected areas will improve blood circulation to reduce its appearance quickly.
  • Maintain a healthy mindset – Be realistic, cellulite is normal and almost every woman has it in some form (some men do as well!). Curing your cellulite is about consistency and figuring out what works for you, be patient – the results will be worth the wait.

Best exercises for cellulite 

Now for what you’re really here to find out. 

It’s important to note that, whilst cardio is an excellent form of exercise for losing fat, you can’t reduce the look of cellulite with cardio alone. This is because, although you’re losing fat, the muscle layer underneath your fat will still be the same as always – weak and undefined. This means that the fat layer on top will always look just a little bit dimpled. 

You want a strong layer of muscle underneath your fat so it has a smooth and even foundation to sit on, this will smooth out your cellulite most efficiently. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is perfect for this, and it doesn’t mean you’ll be slaving away in the gym for hours each day. 

A good, fat-burning session of HIIT will generally last around 20-30 minutes and aims to raise your metabolic rate for hours afterwards so you’re a fat-burning machine. HIIT is a kind of strength training that shocks and challenges the muscles in your body, consisting of short bursts of intense exercise broken up by shorter rest periods.

The formula for your perfect workout: To get an excellent cellulite fighting workout, pick 4 different exercises (try to get a good mix of moves) from the list below. Do each for 30 seconds, performing them as quickly as possible whilst maintaining proper form, then take a break for 30 seconds and repeat this 3 times. Then pick a new batch of 4 different exercises and repeat that process again. If that’s not tiring you out enough, add some dumbbells or ankle weights to each exercise and get ready to feel the burn.

Lunges

Targeted muscles: Hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, inner thighs

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and core engaged
  2. Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower body till left leg’s shin is parallel to the floor, don’t let your right knee go past your toes
  3. Use your right leg to push up and back to standing position, repeat with other leg

Tip: If you’ve got a bit of space, try a walking lunge for a boost of cardio.

Lateral (side) lunge

Targeted muscles: Quads, glutes, inner thighs

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and core engaged
  2. Take a big step to the side with your right leg and squat to a 90 degree angle, left leg should be straight
  3. Push off and back up to the centre with right leg, repeat with other leg

Tip: Your butt should be down and back, chest should be up and your back should be straight for correct form, never let your knee extend beyond your toes.

Curtsy lunge

Targeted muscles: Quads, glutes, inner thighs

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and core engaged
  2. Take a big step with your right leg behind you and to the left, bend at both knees until right shin is parallel to the floor
  3. Push off and back up to the standing position with right leg, repeat with other leg

Tip: Same as the above lunge variations, make sure your front knee doesn’t extend over your toes.

Reverse lunge

Targeted muscles: Quads, glutes, hamstrings

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and core engaged
  2. Take a big step back with your right leg and bend at both knees until right shin is parallel to the floor
  3. Push off and back up to the start position with right leg, repeat with other leg

Tip: Make sure your front leg is at a 90 degree angle when you go down into this lunge and your knee doesn’t extend over your toes (sorry to nag!).

Step ups

Targeted muscles: Quads, glutes, hamstrings

  1. Grab a bench or chair at a height that is comfortable but challenging to step up onto
  2. Step up with your right foot and push through your foot to bring your other foot up onto the bench or chair so you’re standing straight
  3. Step back down with your right foot and then your left, repeat on alternating legs

Tip: Swings your arms in a marching fashion to get a little more momentum and breathe out as you’re stepping up.

Wall sit

Targeted muscles: Entire lower body

  1. From a standing position, lean against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Walk your feet out from the wall and slide down until you’re sitting in a 90 degree angle without your knees going over your toes
  3. Keep your arms help straight out in front of you and hold this position until the timer is up

Tip: You can place your hands on the wall beside you to make this a little easier.

Squats (with heel raise)

Targeted muscles: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms straight out in front of you
  2. With the weight in the heels and balls of your feet, bend at the hips and push your butt back and down
  3. Sink to a point that feels comfortable, optimally your hips will be below your knees (make sure knees don’t extend over toes)
  4. Whilst at this point, raise your heels off the ground as far as possible and squeeze through your calves before lowering heels back to the ground
  5. Push through your heels and return to a standing position 

Tip: You can point your toes outwards slightly if this feels more comfortable and keep your core activated the entire time for best results.

Jump squat

Targeted muscles: Quads, hamstrings, glutes

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms straight out in front of you
  2. With the weight in the heels and balls of your feet, bend at the hips and push your butt back and down 
  3. Sink to a point that feels comfortable, optimally your hips will be below your knees (make sure knees don’t extend over toes)
  4. Explode upwards and continue the movement by jumping as high as possible with straight legs, swinging your arms out behind you
  5. On landing, return to squat position and repeat

Tip: When landing, be sure to do so softly so you don’t cause strain on your knees.

Sumo squat (with heel raise)

Targeted muscles: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves

  1. Stand with your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart with your toes facing outwards and arms straight out in front of you
  2. With the weight in the heels and balls of your feet, bend at the hips and push your butt back and down
  3. Sink to a point that feels comfortable, optimally your hips will be below your knees (make sure knees don’t extend over toes)
  4. Whilst at this point, raise your heels off the ground as far as possible and squeeze through your calves before lowering heels back to the ground
  5. Push through your heels and return to a standing position 

Tip: Keep your back straight, core activated and chest lifted throughout the entire movement.

Hip thrusts/glute bridge

Targeted muscles: Glutes, core, hamstrings, adductors

  1. Lying on your back, bend your knees so that they’re close enough to touch with your fingertips and your feet are flat on the ground
  2. Pushing through your heels and upper back, lift your bum off the ground and straight up
  3. Squeeze your glutes for 2-3 seconds at the top of this move and then lower yourself back down

Tip: Make sure not to let your knees cave inwards, keep them strong for the entire move. Add a barbell across your hips for an extra challenge.

Single leg glute bridge

Targeted muscles: Glutes, core, hamstrings, adductors

  1. Lying on your back, bend your knees so that they’re close enough to touch with your fingertips and your feet are flat on the ground
  2. With one leg raised at 90 degrees and your toes pointing towards the ceiling, push through your heel and upper back to lift your bum off the ground and straight up
  3. Squeeze your glutes for 2-3 seconds at the top of this move and then lower yourself back down, alternate this move with 5 times on each side 

Tip: Be sure to keep your raised leg stationary when lifting your bum off the ground, you shouldn’t be swinging it.

Kick backs

Targeted muscles: Glutes, hamstrings

  1. Kneeling on the floor, place your hands shoulder-width apart and have your thighs and calves at a 90 degree angle to each other
  2. Lift your right leg until your thigh is in line with your back and your leg is in a 90 degree angle, squeeze your glutes and hold for a couple seconds
  3. Lower your leg back down slowly and repeat on the other leg

Tip: Keep your head looking forward to avoid sagging in your back, which should be straight (not arched or bent) for the entire move.

Jumping jacks (star jumps)

Targeted muscles: Calves, quads, glutes, upper back

  1. Stand with your feet together and arms by your sides
  2. Jump and separate your legs to the sides whilst swinging your arms up and over your head
  3. Using the momentum, swing your arms back down and jump inwards so your feet are back together and you’re in the starting position

Tip: The jumping motion of this move will help to dislodge and disperse cellulite, try to do them as quickly as possible with the correct form.

Conclusion

If you’re wanting to give your cellulite fighting a major boost then you should be incorporating some strength training into your schedule. This will firm up the muscle layer underneath your cellulite so it has a strong, smooth foundation to sit on – reducing its dimpled and uneven look. HIIT sessions of around 20-30 minutes are ideal for this and will mean you keep burning calories long after the exercises are done. Use our moves above to concoct an excellent cellulite targeting workout.

About Adele Taylor

Adele is budding content writer from Sydney who's constantly delving into the world of health and fitness in both her professional and personal life to uncover important answers for her readers and herself. She enjoys reading, writing, exercising, and enjoying as many of Sydney's culinary delights as possible.

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