So long, cellulite
We slather on creams to smooth it, wear jeans in 80-degree heat to hide it—and yet, about 80% of women over age 45 don’t do the best thing to actually make cellulite disappear: strength train.
Because cellulite is simply fat, many people—experts included—have claimed that the only way to lose cellulite is to lose body fat. But the most current thinking on cellulite goes a layer deeper, to the muscle that ultimately gives fat its shape. "As women age, they lose muscle," says Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, Prevention advisor and fitness research director at Quincy College. "As that muscle layer becomes thinner, weaker, and less firm, that overlying fat layer now doesn’t have a stable base. The fat crinkles and wrinkles and goes in any direction because there’s not a solid, smooth foundation underneath it."
Westcott's way of thinking explains why you can spend hours on the elliptical and your cellulite won’t budge: Even if you lose body fat, the remaining fat is still sitting on the same weak muscle tissue, giving the fat the same lumpy texture. "Cellulite is a two-fold problem, so we need a two-fold solution," Westcott says. "Strength train to get the muscles firm and strong, and lose excess body fat."
We asked Los Angeles-based fitness expert Doris Thews for the most efficient lower-body moves ever. Each exercise works nearly every part of your lower body—butt, hips, and thighs. In fact, they’re so efficient that tagging on just one of the following exercises to your regular workout 3 to 4 times a week can transform your entire lower body. Unless otherwise noted, complete one to three sets of each exercise.
1. STAND with hands on your hips and feet hip-width apart.
2. TAKE a big step forward with your right foot and lower down until your right leg is bent 90° and your left knee is nearly touching the floor. Push back up to starting position.
3. TAKE a big step to the right with your right foot, bending the right knee and keeping the left leg straight. Return to the starting position.
4. TAKE a big step back with your right foot. Lower until left leg is bent 90° and right knee is almost touching the floor. Return to starting position.
REPEAT with the left foot, stepping to the front, then to the left side, then back. That’s one set. Do 15 sets.
Plié Squat With Alternating Heel Raise
1. STAND with feet about 3 feet apart, toes pointed out.
2. LOWER down until thighs are nearly parallel to the floor. Push yourself back up to standing. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.
3. REPEAT the same move, but raise the right heel as you lower down. Do 15 reps.
4. REPEAT the same move, but raise your left heel as you lower your body down. Do 15 reps.
Alternating Abduction Squats
PLACE a weighted stability ball about one foot in front of you. (A Swiss ball works, too.)
1. RAISE your right leg and touch the top of the ball with your foot. Use your foot to swipe the ball to the right side, landing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. SQUAT: Bend at your knees and lower your body down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push yourself back to standing.
REPEAT using left side
NOTE: If you don’t have a BOSU ball or Swiss ball, do the same motion but without the ball. Raise your knee up to about hip-height, swipe your leg out to the side, and land with feet shoulder-width apart.
Adduction Curtsy Lunge And Squat
PLACE a weighted stability ball about one foot in front of you.
1. TOUCH your left foot to the top of the ball. Swipe the ball to the right, moving right leg across your body.
2. LAND with right foot crossed in front of your left, like a curtsy.
3. STAND up as you raise your left leg to touch the top of the ball. Swipe the ball to the left and land with your feet shoulder-width apart.
4. BEND knees to lower down, then raise back up.
Squat With Calf Raise
1. STAND with feet hip-width apart. Bend at the knees and hips to lower down until thighs are parallel to the floor.
2. STAND up, then lift your heels and shift weight onto the balls of your feet. Lower your heels to return to starting position. Do 15 reps.
1. STAND with left foot about 3 feet in front of right foot, right foot resting on top of a BOSU Balance Trainer (a sturdy chair or bench works, too).
2. BEND knees to lower into a lunge, left knee bent at 90° and right knee lowering toward floor.
RAISE your body back up (don’t move your feet). Do 15 reps on each leg.
3. + 4. CHALLENGE: Touch your arms to the ground when you lower down. Raise your arms and jump, keeping feet in a split position, to come back up.
MORE: Yoga for Weight Loss?
1. LIE on your back with knees bent and feet on top of a BOSU Balance Trainer (if you don’t have a BOSU, keep your feet on the floor).
2. RAISE hips so that knees, hips, and chest are in a straight line. Squeeze butt muscles and keep knees in line with hips. Hold for about 3 seconds, then lower hips to the starting position. Repeat 15 times.
Swiss Ball Hip Lift And Hamstring Curl
1. LIE on your back with legs extended and heels on top of a Swiss ball or weighted stability ball.
2. LIFT hips up so that feet, hips, and chest are in a straight line.
3. BEND your knees to pull the ball toward you. Straighten your legs to push the ball away. Lower your butt down. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.
1. STAND with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the waist to touch your toes. (It’s OK to bend your knees slightly.)
2. BEND knees and lower your butt until it nearly touches the floor. Allow heels to lift if needed.
3. KEEP your hands on your toes. Lift your butt up so that you’re in a toe-touch position again.
4. BEND knees and lower butt to the floor again. This time stand all the way up. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.
1. STAND with feet hip-width apart. Hold 1 weight in each hand, palms facing your body.
2. HINGE at hips to lower torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor, keeping legs straight.
RETURN to the starting position. Repeat 15 times.