Cellulite & exercise

~ The ultimate guide ~

 

 

Everything about cellulite and exercise

 

Welcome to the ultimate exercise for cellulite guide, brought to you by the leg experts, LipoTherapeia. This guide took several weeks to compile and is the outcome of 36 years of experience with exercise and 18 years of experience with cellulite.

Honest and straight to the point, without clichés or even dangerous misinformation that you find all over the internet. Just science-based, actionable information.

Jump to one of the three groups of topics by clicking on the (pink) headings below or simply scroll down to read everything!

 

Cellulite exercises vs cellulite workouts 

Leg and butt cellulite exercises

  • Does exercise get rid of cellulite on legs?
  • Don't waste your time: leg exercises that remove cellulite do not exist
  • Serious discussion about whole body exercise and cellulite
  • Burning calories during and after exercise
  • Boosting skin firmness and circulation
     

Whole body cellulite workouts

  • The most effective cellulite workouts
  • Leg/butt cellulite exercises
  • Pilates & yoga
  • Fast walking or slow running
  • Steady state running, HIIT, spinning, aerobics classes
  • Interval running, power plate, fast running
     

Actual spot cellulite removal

  • Real spot cellulite reduction
  • This "hack" only works with high intensity exercise
     

Related frequently asked questions

  • Do squats get rid of cellulite?
  • Exercises to get rid of cellulite on thighs & buttocks
  • Will running get rid of cellulite?
  • Inner thigh cellulite exercises
  • Cellulite before and after squats
  • Legs cellulite workout
  • "Best leg exercises for cellulite"?

 

Spot fat reduction / cellulite removal with exercise 

Why spot fat reduction with exercise does not exist

  • The physiological explanation
  • When your butt muscles burn fuel during exercise...
  • Vice versa, when fat is removed from your fat cells during exercise...
  • Fat molecules do not diffuse through tissues between fat and muscle
  • Exercise is still important for cellulite and fat reduction - just don't expect spot reduction
     

The clinical studies on spot fat reduction

  • "Subcutaneous fat alterations resulting from an upper-body resistance training program"
  • "Are blood flow and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue influenced by contractions in adjacent muscles in humans?"
  • ONLY 0.12 grams of fat can be mobilised...
  • 29 years to lose 2.5kg of fat via spot fat reduction with exercise
  • Plié squats and hip bridges for cellulite removal? Seriously?

 

Fartlek / HIIT / interval training for cellulite removal 

Cellulite & HIIT / interval training: the facts

  • Why HIIT is the best type of cellulite workout
  • Why should I do interval training instead of continuous high intensity exercise?
     

How to beat cellulite with HIIT/interval training

  • Interval training is the best exercise against cellulite
  • How do I do interval training?
  • Warming up, warm clothes and stretching are essential to avoid injuries - neglect them at your peril...
  • Main interval session
  • Intensity/duration of sprints and recovery periods
  • Number of sprint/recovery cycles to be repeated
  • Heart rate monitor: your personal trainer!
  • Stretching and cooling down are essential
  • How often can I do interval training?
  • Fartlek training - a playful type of interval training, ideal for cellulite
  • Have you heard of SMIT (SupraMaximal Interval Training) yet?
  • Uphill interval running: the ultimate anti-cellulite exercise
  • How to perform uphill interval running to beat cellulite, fast!
  • Make the most of your interval training to beat cellulite fast
     

Study reveals why interval training is so effective

  • Why high intensity interval training is the best type of exercise for unfit / moderately fit people
  • In summary: high intensity interval training > more mitochondria > more energy production > more fitness.

 

 

 

© 2017 Georgios Tzenichristos & LipoTherapeia Ltd

All rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited without written consent. For copyright-free material, reproducible with attribution of this website, please click here.

 

Cellulite exercises vs cellulite workouts

 

(Pointless) leg and butt cellulite exercises

Does exercise get rid of cellulite on legs?

First things first: in most cases you cannot get rid of cellulite completely with any method, including exercise. Of course, the answer to the, more correct, question "does exercise reduce cellulite", is yes. Exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce cellulite, not just because it makes you burn calories, but also because it boosts your circulation and promotes skin firming. 

However, too many women, instead of looking for an effective workout for cellulite, they look for specific leg cellulite exercises, which, as we will see below, is completely the wrong way to go about it.

 

Don't waste your time: leg exercises that remove cellulite do not exist

First off, if you are looking for specific leg cellulite removal exercises, i.e. exercises to remove cellulite from a specific area of your legs, for example your inner thighs, back of thighs etc, let me warn you that you are looking for something that does not exist: spot fat/cellulite reduction with exercise is physiologically impossible, so all these exercises you see on the internet are utter BS. Simple as that.

So if you are looking for that amazing squat or other leg exercise that will get rid of your cellulite, you can leave this website and visit one of the hundreds of websites that peddle this "advice". There are probably thousands of photos, videos and articles describing enough "cellulite-busting" leg exercises to waste your time and energy for years without seeing any results. On the other hand, if you are looking for intelligent, science-based advice on how to use different types of whole body workout for cellulite - as opposed to cellulite leg exercises - then read on!

 

Serious discussion about whole body exercise and cellulite

There are two factors that determine if a type of exercise is effective against cellulite. The ability of exercise to reduce cellulite fat, either by direct calorie burning during exercise or by stimulating long-term metabolic changes that result in calorie burning throughout the day. And the ability of exercise to provide mechanical stimulation to fibroblasts (collagen and elastin-producing cells), adipocytes (fat cells), blood vessels and lymph vessels.

 

Factor 1: Burning calories during and after exercise

Burning loads of calories during exercise is a good thing, but a better thing is to stimulate your endocrine system into burning more fuel throughout the day, thereby reducing more cellulite fat deposits. It has been known for several years now that intensive exercise (e.g. fast running) has a more pronounced effect on the endocrine system, whilst light exercise (e.g. slow walking) has a minimal effect on the metabolism.

And it is very easy to assess how fast you burn calories and how much the exercise impacts your metabolism: the more your heart rate and breathing rate increase, the more calories you burn. This is a basic physiological principle: your lungs and heart pump air and blood faster because you are burning fuel (calories) fast, therefore you need to supply your muscles with more fresh oxygen and fuel to burn and to remove the metabolic by-products. Pretty simply, high intensity training beats low intensity exercise hands down: it burns calories faster during exercise, in addition to significantly boosting metabolism after exercise.

 

Factor 2: Boosting skin firmness and circulation

A type of exercise that provides intense mechanical stimulation to your fat cells, collagen cells and blood/lymph vessel cells will lead to reduced fat cell number, more firmness and improved circulation and lymphatic drainage, thereby further improving the appearance of cellulite. Mechanical stimulation is usually more intense during high intensity training, but not always, as we will see below.

 

 

(Effective) whole body cellulite workouts

The most effective cellulite workouts

According to the two factors mentioned above, we can classify cellulite exercises as follows:

 

A. "Leg/butt cellulite exercises": Zero effect on cellulite

The specific leg exercises we mentioned at the beginning of this article. You can do as many squats as you want, but these will not have a direct effect on cellulite on your bum and things. Similarly you can do hundreds of inner thigh exercises, but these will not affect your inner thigh fat or cellulite in the least. You will indeed have tighter muscle under your cellulite, but cellulite and local fat will still be there. Simple as that.

 

B. Pilates & Yoga: Little or no effect on cellulite

Pilates, Yoga, slow elliptical training, slow cycling and slow swimming burn very few calories and provide very little mechanical stimulation, so they will have minimal effect on cellulite. Medium pace walking provides some mechanical stimulation and increased calorie burning, so it is a bit better than Pilates and Yoga.

 

C. Fast walking or slow running: Moderate cellulite reduction

Fast walking, uphill walking and fast uphill walking (hiking) provide more intense mechanical stimulation and more calorie burning so they are more efficient at reducing cellulite. Slow running provides even more mechanical stimulation and burns even more fuel than fast walking, so it tops the list of relatively inefficient cellulite-reducing types of exercise. Fast "elliptical" training and fast cycling can also burn a lot of calories but provide little mechanical stimulation, so they can be categorised as moderate cellulite reducers. Fast swimming burns a lot of calories and provides moderate mechanical stimulation (via the micromassage effect that agitated water exerts on the skin), so it is also categorised as a moderate cellulite reduction and prevention exercise

 

D. Steady state running, HIIT, spinning, aerobics classes: Enhanced cellulite reduction exercise

Moderate speed running burns quite a few calories and provides the tissues with much needed mechanical stimulation, so it provides enhanced cellulite reduction. High intensity interval training (HIIT), also known as "circuit training", provides moderate mechanical stimulation and burns calories at a fast rate, so it has enhanced cellulite reduction potential. High impact, high energy aerobics classes provide both good mechanical stimulation and calorie burning, leading to enhanced cellulite reduction. Spinning classes provide moderate mechanical stimulation but burn calories very fast, so they offer enhanced cellulite reduction

 

E. Interval running, power plate, fast running: Exercise for intensive cellulite reduction

Doing squats and lunges on the vibration platform (power plate) provides very intense mechanical stimulation and can help you burn quite a few calories, if you do not rest much between sets. If this condition is met, vibration platform training can be very efficient in cellulite reduction. Interval swimming (intermittent swimming sprints) provides good mechanical stimulation and enhanced calorie burning, so it is also a great anti-cellulite exercise.

Fast running provides intense mechanical stimulation and intense calorie burning, so it is also one of the best cellulite reduction methods. Interval running (i.e. intermittent running sprints) burns calories really fast and provides intense mechanical stimulation, therefore it is by far the best type of cellulite reduction exercise.

Intensive sports such as basketball, football, handball, netball, water polo etc. are in effect interval training sports and are also ideal for cellulite reduction and prevention.

 

 

Actual spot cellulite removal

Real spot cellulite reduction: only possible with exercise combined and cellulite creams / treatments

We mentioned above that specific exercises cannot be used to reduce fat or cellulite from a specific part of the body (spot fat reduction / spot cellulite reduction). However, if exercise is combined with a good cellulite treatment or a good, highly concentrated cream, then it's effects can indeed be focused on one area. If the exercise takes place and/or the anti-cellulite cream applied immediately before or after exercise, then the results are more pronounced.

This is because during exercise fat cells release fat due to the effect of increased adrenaline and noradrenaline production. Good cellulite treatment or creams tend to favour the release of fat from fat cells too, but only locally, where the treatment / cream is applied. So by combining the two, an increased amount of fat will be released from the cellulite affected area, in relation to other body areas or in relation to just applying the treatment / cream without exercise.

Indeed this is the best way to reduce cellulite and localised fat deposits and the best advice I can give to anyone who wants to use exercise to reduce her cellulite: receive a strong cellulite treatment and apply a concentrated cellulite cream just before or just after a high intensity exercise session, involving fast or interval running / swimming / cycling etc.

 

This "hack" only works with high intensity exercise

Please note that this combination of exercise with treatments and creams works only with the more intensive types of exercise, such as fast running, interval running, spinning, circuit training, intense sports and high impact aerobics, because low intensity training such as Pilates, Yoga, walking and slow running do not stimulate much adrenaline / noradrenaline release.

This is not to say that without exercise a good cream or a treatment will not "work". They will still work, but the treatment sessions and/or cream applications that are combined with high intensity training will be much more effective than the same treatment sessions / cream applications while being sedentary. And of course, do not forget that to achieve maximum results you must combine exercise + treatment + cream with healthy eating (think veg, salads, fish, chicken, lean meat, and berry fruits and avoid sugary snacks, fatty/oily/fried food and carbs).

(Safety note: always check with your doctor if you are unsure about your ability to safely perform vigorous exercise)

 

 

Related frequently asked questions

Straight, quick answers to the most common questions related to "cellulite exercises"

 

Do squats get rid of cellulite?

It is evident from all the above that squats do not directly reduce cellulite. Only indirectly, i.e. via calorie burning, can squats reduce cellulite. But that can also be achieved with equal calorie burning on any body area, like the arms, abs or whole body.

So no, squats do not directly get rid of cellulite, they only tone up the muscles of your butt. This muscle toning will end up in butt lifting, which is nice to have. But no cellulite reduction on the butt will directly occur due to squats.

 

Exercises to get rid of cellulite on thighs & buttocks

As discussed above: they don't exist because a muscle exercising does not burn fat from the fat tissue that sits on top of it - it derives fat and glycogen ("carbs") it burns from the general circulation

 

Will running get rid of cellulite?

Yep! Running is one of the best ways to reduce cellulite - and perhaps completely get rid of cellulite too, if cellulite is very little or very "new"

 

Inner thigh cellulite exercises

Again, you can do 500 inner thigh muscle exercises, or 500 outer thigh muscle exercises, and cellulite on your inner thighs will be reduced at exactly the same rate with either exercise. Try it! Two scientist teams have tried this before and the result was the same: spot fat reduction r spot cellulite reduction does not exist.

 

Cellulite before and after squats

As per above: why don't you do squats on one leg, for say one month and then check the cellulite on both legs - it will be reduced at exactly the same degree!

 

Legs cellulite workout

Yes, there are three amazing leg exercise workouts and they are called "fast uphill walking", "fast running" and "interval running". However, lunges and squats will not get you very far, as discussed above.

 

"Best leg exercises for cellulite". Seriously?

Fitness magazine, No 6 on Google for the above keyphrase at the time of writing, suggests "Romanian Deadlifts" - great to break your back and get some nice hernia on your disks, just around the L4-L5 or L5-S1 joints. That will create plenty of new cellulite whilst you recover in bed from your injury.

 If the Romanian dead lift is performed with 1-2kg dumbbells on each arm it is a sheer waste of time. If it is performed with proper, heavy weights, it is simply dangerous for most non-fit people. If you don't break your back, yes, you will - hopefully, not guaranteed - develop a more toned butt muscle. But it will do nothing for your cellulite on your bum.

Prevention magazine, No 1 on Google for the same keyphrase at the time of writing, offers "Clockwork Lunges", ideal to damage your knees, especially the medial meniscus, medial collateral ligament and medial patellofemoral joint cartilage - and to make not a shred of difference to your cellulite.

What the hell? Do people have no shame? How ignorant can you be and write for specialist magazines such as Fitness or Prevention? How can you offer such dangerous misinformation to the public?

Romanian deadlifts for people with cellulite? Many of whom are simply unfit and with poor proprioception and neuromuscular coordination? And some of whom with already partially herniated lumbar intervertebral disks? Clockwork lunges for people with cellulite, many of whom are in their 40s or older, with already partially worn out menisci and patellofemoral cartilage?

This is how you reduce women's cellulite? By sending them to the orthopaedic surgeon for something (spot fat reduction) that provenly does not exist? It really beggars belief...

Guys, you can do so much better than that! Romanian deadlifts. Crazy...

 

 

Spot fat reduction / cellulite removal with exercise

 

Why spot fat reduction with exercise does not exist

The physiological explanation

Looking for exercises to reduce cellulite on a specific part of your body like your butt, thighs or stomach? Then stop looking - because those exercises do not exist. Forget what the tabloid newspaper, glossy magazine, blog or your personal trainer says. Very simply, it is physiologically impossible to reduce fat from a specific part of the body (including cellulite fat), with exercise alone. This is because fat tissue (from where fat is released during exercise) is completely separated from muscle tissue (where fat burning occurs during exercise). Fat from your cellulite fat cells (adipocytes) in the buttocks cannot diffuse through several layers of tissues and reach the adjacent buttock muscles. This is not how the body works. For example:

 

When your butt muscles burn fuel during exercise...

...that fat is provided by the arteries and can originate from anywhere in the body, including your fat deposits in your breast, face, stomach etc. This means that your butt may well burn stomach fat or arms fat. It only burns a tiny amount of "booty fat".

 

Vice versa, when fat is removed from your fat cells during exercise...

...it is taken up by your capillaries and veins and ends up in the general circulation and muscles and organs throughout the body, where it can be oxidised (burned) for energy. This means that fat released from your butt fat cells during exercise may well be burned in your arms or liver. Only a small amount of fat released by your butt fat cells during exercise will be burned in your gluteus maximus, your butt muscle.

 

Fat molecules do not diffuse through tissues between fat and muscle

So, to put it in a nutshell, fat burned in your butt muscles is only remotely connected to fat released by your butt fat tissue. And this applies to all other body areas. So you cannot burn fat on one area by exercising the muscle underneath that area.

This practically means that you can do hundreds of squats and lunges every day and exercise your butt muscles to exhaustion, yet only a limited amount of fat burned in those muscles will have originated from your cellulite fat cells in the buttocks. You could easily be burning fat originating from your breasts or face - the least desirable areas for fat reduction. However ironical this sounds, you know that it is true.

Squats, lunges and hip extensions do tone the muscles underneath the cellulite but they do not reduce cellulite itself. Similarly, performing hundreds of sit ups or abdominal crunches per day will not do anything to reduce belly fat or belly cellulite. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. It ain't gonna happen. Those exercises you see on YouTube are only good for advertising royalties by those who upload them.

 

Exercise is still important for cellulite and fat reduction - just don't expect spot reduction

Of course, regular exercise is indispensable for cellulite reduction and prevention throughout the body, but you cannot focus it on a specific area to help reduce cellulite in that area. Your body decides where to lose fat and cellulite, according to your lifestyle, genetic inheritance and hormones.

Although the above mentioned biological principle behind the inability of exercise to offer spot cellulite reduction is very simple, still two different research groups tried to disprove it, and in both cases the result was the same: spot fat reduction and spot cellulite reduction do not exist. Read more below.

 

 

The clinical studies on spot fat reduction

"Subcutaneous fat alterations resulting from an upper-body resistance training program"

The above titled peer-reviewed study examined if an equal number of men and women (104 subjects) who trained one arm with weights and then examined the subcutaneous fat of both arms. The study found the following:

"MRI found a generalized subcutaneous fat loss independent of gender, supporting the notion that spot reduction does not occur as a result of resistance training. MRI, sensitive to changes along the entire upper arm, detected greater variation in resistance training responses, preventing significant differences between trained and untrained arms."

 

"Are blood flow and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue influenced by contractions in adjacent muscles in humans?"

In this peer-reviewed study researchers examined the topical fat reduction that occurs after 30 minutes of cycling on one leg at 85%(!) maximum intensity. The result?

Yes, there was spot fat mobilisation. But how much? Well, brace for it: 97nmol of mobilised fat per 100g of fat tissue per minute, mainly due to marginally increased adipose tissue blood flow. WIth a molecular weight of 855g/mol for triglycerides comprising palmitoleic acid, the most common fatty acid in the human body, and if we assume a massive 5kg of fat on that leg, we have: 0.000000097 * 855 : 100 * 5000 * 30 = 0.12g of fat mobilised. Yes, that's right...

 

ONLY 0.12 grams of fat can be mobilised...

...from the fat tissue of a fat leg (with 5kg of fat in it), by exercising that leg for 30' of strenuous cycling at 85% of maximum intensity. Crazy!

At this rate you can lose all 5kg of your leg fat after 5000 : 0.12 = 42,000 thirty-minute sessions! If you are very motivated and perform daily, without fail, sixty-minute cycling sessions at 85% intensity (and if you don't die of a heart attack first), you will lose half the fat on your legs in 21,000 sessions : 365 sessions/year : 2 = 29 years!

 

29 years to lose 2.5kg of fat via spot fat reduction with exercise

Obviously, the spot fat removal strategy is pathetic. Actually, most of the benefits in fat loss would be due to overall calories burned with that exercise, which would, of course, slim down the whole body, including your legs, but without being able to focus it on your legs.

In fact, you would probably need about 125 days of intense cycling to lose half of your body fat, and therefore half the fat in your legs, just by doing this type of exercise - provided, of course, that you do not scoff chocolate muffins after the exercise! here is the calculation: 12,500g of full body fat * 9cals/g of fat : 900 cals/hour : 1hour of cycling/day.

But the contribution of local fat mobilisation due to spot fat reduction would be 21000 : 125 = 0.006% of that. Infinitesimal.

 

Plié squats and hip bridges for cellulite removal? Seriously?

Of course, let's not talk about those "Plié Squats", Pilates moves and Yoga poses suggested by those internet cellulite exercise "experts". These would require centuries to provide results. Centuries...

So my advice is to stop looking for the "best exercises for local cellulite reduction" (those thousands of internet and printed press articles with such misinformation) and focus on the advice above about the best type of overall workout for cellulite reduction.

 

 

HIIT interval training for cellulite removal

 

Cellulite & HIIT / interval training: the facts

Why HIIT is the best type of cellulite workout

Interval training (also referred to as high intensity interval training, HIIT), is a type of cardiovascular exercise that involves bursts of high intensity training, alternated with periods of rest or low activity (intervals). Interval training can consist of fast-slow running, swimming, cycling, rowing, exercise on the elliptical/cross trainer or other activities that can involve sprinting. Most "active" sports are in essence interval training, e.g. basketball, football, rugby, water polo, hockey etc.

Interval training is by far the best form of exercise for cellulite reduction and prevention. This is because during the bursts of high intensity activity you burn calories very fast - much faster than you would with slow intensity work. In addition, those bursts act as a shock on the endocrine system and boost your metabolism much more effectively than slow intensity exercise, so you continue to burn calories after your training session. Furthermore, the extreme production of noradrenaline and adrenaline that occurs during sprinting has an immense effect on the fat tissue, stimulating it not only to release fat but, with time, to also burn fat itself (thermogenesis)!

Interval running, in particular, also provides quite intense mechanical stimulation to the fat cells (adipocytes), blood and lymph vessels and collagen cells (fibroblasts), so it offers yet another benefit in terms of cellulite reduction. The only exercise type that provides more mechanical stimulation is vibration plate training. However, vibration training does not burn nearly as many calories as interval running does. But then again, nobody stops you from combining vibration training with interval training and get the most of the two best anti-cellulite forms of training!

 

Why should I do interval training instead of continuous high intensity exercise?

Low intensity exercise, such as walking or slow running, is not particularly effective in reducing fat and cellulite, but it is easy, especially for unfit people. High intensity training is fantastic for burning fat (including cellulite fat) but it can not be practised for prolonged periods of time by beginners. Interval training offers the best of both worlds, giving unfit people the opportunity to reap the benefits of high intensity exercise without the required mental discipline and advanced physical fitness.

In addition, interval training leaves you with a feeling of invigoration, instead of a feeling of exhaustion that prolonged high intensity activity may do. This is always a bonus if you are overworked and tired - like most people today. Finally, interval training makes you much more motivated to train than continuous training, because when you interval-train you don't get bored: the sprints offer you a natural high (adrenaline rush), while the rest periods act as a reward (dopamine release) and provide you with a welcome distraction after the exertion of the sprints.

Furthermore, by varying the speed of the sprints, the length of the sprints, the rest periods and the overall amounts of sprint-rest cycles you can create a different workout everyday, beating boredom and tricking your body into working harder.

Finally, due to the high amounts of noradrenaline that it releases, interval training is the perfect type of exercise to combine with anti-cellulite treatments and creams in order to focus the results of exercise on specific cellulite areas (noradrenaline triggers fat release which is synergistically combined to the fat release caused by a quality anti-cellulite and/or anti-cellulite treatment).

I have personally been practising interval running for the last 35 years, among several other forms of training, and I can say that interval training is my favourite type of cardiovascular training. Circuit training, being very similar to interval training, is my other favourite form of training, offering a mix of strength and cardiovascular conditioning. Below I am offering you a simple guide on how to perform interval training safely and effectively.

 

 

How to beat cellulite with HIIT/interval training

Interval training is the best exercise against cellulite

In the previous section of this article we analysed why interval training is the best anti-cellulite exercise. On this article we are showing you how to use interval training simply, effectively and safely as part of your anti-cellulite exercise regime.

 

How do I do interval training?

Intervals are simple and fun, so you don't need a personal trainer - all you need is to get started now and then be creative along the way, devising your own interval training routines!

The information below is for interval running, but the same principles can be applied to interval rowing, interval swimming, interval cycling, interval training on the elliptical/cross trainer machine etc.

 

Warming up, warm clothes and stretching are essential to avoid injuries - neglect them at your peril...

First off you start with a warm up session consisting of 10 minutes of slow running. The warming up is essential to avoid injuries, so neglect it at your peril! Warm clothes are also essential: when you sprint, your muscles must be warm at all times, otherwise injury is almost guaranteed. Other injury prevention measures include running on the grass, wearing special running tights (indispensable for knee stabilisation), buying a pair of quality trainers (don't even think of doing interval running with any other type of shoe than running shoes) and buying shock absorption insoles to enhance your running shoes' shock absorption.

After a 10-minute slow run you need to spend about 5 minutes stretching your legs. This will also help prevent injury, in addition to allowing you to rest and prepare for the exertion of the sprints.

Finally, make sure you always carry some water with you and do not start your session hungry, to avoid hypoglycemia. On the other hand, eating for two hours before exercise is not recommended, as the deep breathing occurring during interval training may upset your stomach. If you did not have time to eat properly 3-4 hours before training, you can have half a banana with some water just before exercise to give you an energy boost without over-filling your stomach.

 

Main interval session

After stretching you are ready for action! A typical sprinting-rest routine for beginners involves 30" of sprinting, followed by 90" of slow walking (recovery time should be about 3x times longer than sprinting time). Alternatively, you can sprint for about 150 metres and then walk back slowly to your starting position. The time it takes you to walk back to the starting position will be just about the right amount of rest, which should take about 3x times the sprinting time.

Typical sprint/rest combinations are:

Time-wise:

  • 30" fast sprint + 90" slow jog/walk

  • 1' moderate sprint + 3' slow jog/walk

Distance-wise:

  • 150m of fast sprint+ 150m of slow walk back

  • 200m of moderate sprint + 200m of slow walk back

  • 300m of moderate sprint + 300m of slow walk back

 

Intensity/duration of sprints and recovery periods

Anything below 30" of sprinting does not allow your heart rate to increase considerably, unless you are very fit and can run really fast. Anything more than one minute of sprint is also not suitable if you are an amateur, as you will be too exhausted after one minute of sprinting. Recovery periods should consist of very slow jogging / walking - never standing or sitting down - to allow for lactic acid removal and to reduce the possibility of dizziness.

If you sprint really fast you will need to take more time recovering, i.e. you will need to walk back to the starting position at a slower pace, in order to recover sufficiently (maybe you can have 4x times more recovery time than sprinting time).

Alternatively, you may choose to sprint less fast, in which case you will have to allow less recovery time, i.e. you will have to walk faster towards the starting position (perhaps 2x times more recovery time than sprinting time).

However, I do not recommend beginners to sprint so fast that they need 4x times more recovery time than sprinting time, as such excessive exertion may lead a beginner to dizziness or cause an injury.

And I do not not recommend sprinting very slowly combined with recovery time of only 2x times the sprinting time, as this does not allow a big enough fast/slow contrast.

Of course, trying to be "too smart" by sprinting fast and resting little, in order to have faster results, is not recommended, as it will only lead to early exhaustion and lower quality workout - and definitely not faster results!

 

Number of sprint/recovery cycles to be repeated

Repeat those sprint-rest cycles 6 to 12 times, according to your fitness and energy levels. Your interval training should last anything between 18' to 36'. Less is not efficient enough, while more may be too exhausting for more people.

Remember, if you're tired it is better to do a short workout made up of only 6x sprint-interval cycles, than going home to watch TV and wait for the perfect day with the huge energy levels that will allow you to do 18 cycles of sprint-interval cycles. 

 

Heart rate monitor: your personal trainer!

If you want to know whether you sprint too fast or too slow, or whether you rest too much or too little, you can assess your heart rate with a heart rate monitor, or by checking your pulse by gently pressing your thump on the carotid artery (found just to either side of your throat).

A heart rate at the end of the sprint of 160 beats per minute (bpm) is ideal for a 30 year old person (~85% of maximum heart rate), while a heart rate of 115 bpm is great after the end of the recovery period, for the same person (~60% of maximum heart rate). Older people can do with slightly slower heart rates, for example a 50-year old should aim for 145 bpm after the end of the sprint and 105 bpm after the end of the recovery period. Anything lower is less effective, whilst anything faster may be too much for your system. Of course, these numbers are relative, as some people have a higher maximum heart rate and some lower, but statistically, these are the average recommended heart rates.

If you assess your heart rate with the thump/carotid method, you don't need to take your pulse for 60 seconds - 10 seconds are more than enough. In this case, for a 30-year old person, 27 beats per 10 seconds are ideal immediately after the sprint, and ~19 beats per 10 seconds are great at the end of the recovery period and immediately before the next sprint.

Athletes normally do 28-31 beats/10" post-sprint (equivalent to 168-186 bpm), but that is not advised for amateurs.

 

stretching and cooling down are essential for injury prevention and for lactic acid removal from your muscles

As the title suggests, you must follow EVERY interval training routine with 5 more minutes of stretching and 10 minutes of slow jogging, to enable your body to adjust to normal life smoothly and to help remove lactic acid from your muscles. Again, neglect the cooling down session and you might find yourself feeling dizzy or getting injured sooner than you expect.

 

How often can I do interval training?

Interval training is what we call high quality workout, meaning that it pushes your body further than normal steady pace cardiovascular training (running, swimming, cycling etc). However, this also means that you need to allow longer recovery period between workout, so doing interval running every day is definitely not recommended. In fact, interval training is ideal if performed once or twice a week, with other workouts, such as continuous running (or cycling, swimming etc.), circuits, weights etc. filling the rest of your training week.

After doing a few interval training sessions and attempt to do steady pace CV training you will realise just how boring steady pace CV training is. However, steady pace training has it's own benefits - one of them being a nice "filler" between interval training sessions in your training week!

 

Fartlek training - an even more playful type of interval training that is ideal for cellulite reduction

After a few sessions of interval training you will be able to create your own routine, with shorter or faster sprint/recovery times and less or more interval cycles per workout. 

If you get bored of intervals you can also try fartlek. Fartlek have nothing to do with passing wind or other discomfort - fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish. Fartlek training involves the random change of pace while running - anything from sprinting to walking, with random and continuous change of speed every few seconds during your 20-40 minute routine. Spinning classes can also be categorised as fartleks, and are great for fast fat loss.

For more detailed analysis click here.

 

Have you heard of SMIT (Supramaximal interval Training) yet?

If you thought faster forms of HIIT may be a bit demanding for your heart, muscle or joints, well, then supramaximal interval training (aka supramaximal exercise training) is definitely not for you. As the name suggests, with SMIT you go above your maximum 100% exercise intensity. How is this possible, you might think? Well, it is. Imagine you cycle really fast down a hill and then cycle as fast as you can on a steep incline at the bottom of the hill - that's supramaximal. You could never achieve this intensity on a level road.

How can you apply this at the gym? Simple. Go on the exercise bike, cycle as fast as you can and then, will you cycle super fast at your maximum intensity, suddenly increase the bike resistance by two-three notches and keep cycling for 30 seconds. Then rest for 3-4 minutes.

Another application of SMIT is plyometrics. Get some heavy dumbbells, jump off a 3-foot high bench and on hitting the ground do a deep squat and bounce back up again. Repeat a few times. That's the simplest form of plyometrics and if done with really heavy weights it's also SMIT.

Do both types of supramaximal interval training training sound as a recipe for disaster for you? Yes, they are a disaster for anyone except the very fit types. You know, those ones with great strength, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning. SMIT is not for the faint-hearted and although it gives you generally better results than HIIT, the risk to joint health or muscle injury is not worth it. Milder forms of HIIT are for the masses, intense HIIT is for the fitter ones among the masses and SMIT is for the very fit. But I doubt any very fit women would be reading this post, because they wouldn't have cellulite in the first place.

So no matter what the magazine hype will say in the next few months and years (SMIT is a new kid on the block for anyone except competitive athletes), save your joints and just do a milder or more intensive version of HIIT or some nice playful fartleks instead. Or do some uphill interval training, which will test your cardiovascular system and boost your metabolism, without injuring your joints or muscles.

 

Uphill interval running: the ultimate anti-cellulite exercise

For the ultimate in interval training, why don't you try uphill interval training, after a few weeks of normal interval training? An ideal uphill interval running for beginners can be 100m uphill sprinting followed by 100m of walking down to the starting point very, very slowly. 150m and 200m sprints are also great, but not suggested for beginners.

Or, if you run on a treadmill, you can walk/run uphill, at full inclination, for about a minute and then take about three minutes of recovery time comprising very slow uphill walk/jog.

I do not recommend 30" / 90" intervals on the treadmill, as the machine takes some time to increase / reduce the running pace, which means you will waste too much time fiddling with the speed button and may also be distracted and fall off the treadmill.

 

How to perform uphill interval running to beat cellulite, fast!

As mentioned above, uphill interval training is the strongest anti-cellulite exercise available and can simply be performed as follows:

  • All interval running training must always be preceded and followed by 10’ of jogging and 5' of stretching to avoid injury. For the same purpose, make sure you wear warm clothing on your legs.

  • The actual training is very simple: just pick a hill and sprint uphill for 30’, followed by 90’ of very slow downhill jogging to your starting point

  • Repeat this cycle 10 times and you have a 20’ high quality interval training session!

  • On a treadmill, set the elevation to 10-15º and sprint for 45" followed by 135" of very slow walking. The longer sessions on the treadmill are necessary to avoid fiddling with the controls too often (unlike free running, the treadmill takes some time to increase/decrease it's speed). In this case, just 7 cycles will be enough, as the sprinting sessions are longer.

Remember, with interval training the trick is not to have very little rest or run fast on the recovery period, as that will lead to either slower speed during the sprinting period or to exhaustion/fainting, transforming the interval training to a continuous running session with just small variations in speed, which is not called interval training any more and defies the whole point.

If you were an elite athlete who can do high intensity interval training with very little recovery without fainting, you would not have cellulite in the first place! The trick is to run very fast and then jog very slowly.

If in doubt, you must ask for doctor’s permission before engaging on any high intensity exercise.

 

Make the most of your interval training to beat cellulite fast

You can combine the ultimate anti-cellulite training with a suitable anti-cellulite treatment taken immediately before or after interval training, in order to focus the fat loss produced by your interval training session on your cellulite. You can also achieve the same effect by applying a concentrated anti-cellulite cream immediately before and/or after your exercise session.

As we mentioned above, the intense noradrenaline production during interval training encourages fat release from fat cells, thereby creating the perfect biochemical environment for a good anti-cellulite treatment or cream to work.

 

 

Study reveals why interval training is so effective

Why high intensity interval training is the best type of exercise for unfit / moderately fit people

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become popular because it is a time-efficient way to increase endurance. An intriguing and so-far-unanswered question is how a few minutes of HIIT can be that effective. New research has now shown that interval training (as little as 10 sets of 30" full-intensity cycling alternated by 4' of rest between sets!) causes free radical damage on a muscle cell protein called ryanodine receptor 1 (RyR1). This ultimately causes "mitochondrial biogenesis", i.e. the creation of new mitochondria (mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, the place where most of cell energy production occurs).

In summary: high intensity interval training > more mitochondria > more energy production > more fitness.

As these changes depend on free radical damage, taking antioxidants (such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, polyphenols etc.) stops this process, and this has been proven experimentally. So practically you should not take antioxidants one day before, on the same day and one day after doing HIIT training. Furthermore these adaptations to HIIT did not occur on elite athletes, because they are fully adapted to high intensity training due to their daily gruelling training regime.

This practically means that interval training is ideal for unfit or moderately fit people. The only limitation is that you need to have generally good cardiovascular health. However, interval training is not a good idea for people with cardiovascular problems, as high intensity training puts a lot of pressure on the heart and may lead to too high or too low blood pressure.

(Source: Ryanodine receptor fragmentation and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ leak after one session of high-intensity interval exercise)

 

Fartlek, the fun interval training

Why fartlek is the most fun type of interval training

As we explained above, fartlek means 'speed play' in Swedish and is probably the most fun way to get fit without spending half a day in the gym, having to follow strict rules or getting bored.

The little known, outside the running world, fartlek training method originated 80 years ago and is unstructured version of interval training. As it activates both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, it can boost overall metabolism even more than interval training.

 

Ideal for cellulite and a natural "bum lift"

Given that a boost in metabolism is a must for weight loss and also for cellulite removal, this can only be good for both your health and your figure. In fact it can be said that fartlek training is the most fun anti-cellulite training regime, as it combines both mechanical stimulation and a serious metabolism hike.

Also, given that running engages the gluteus maximus (the ‘bum lift’ muscle), ‘fartleks’ are ideal for bum lifting - always welcome in the summer.

 

How to fartlek

So how can you do it? Fartlek training couldn’t be simpler. Start with ten minutes of jogging, break for five minutes of stretching and then start “play-running”, as you wish. Yes, it’s that simple.

Run fast for a bit, then slow, then medium-fast, then walk, then sprint, then medium-slow etc. Do you have hills in your area? Incorporate random uphill and downhill running into your routine. Are there steps? Do them. Do you feel tired? Walk for a bit. Do you feel more energetic? Add more fast sprints. You’re the boss.

Sometimes people get all neurotic about their training. It can be said that fartlek is the least obsessive-compulsive of all training methods: there is no compulsion about it whatsoever.

If this sounds like a recipe for losing your discipline, this could not be further from the truth. Even if you start slow and tired, play-running actually increases your motivation to run more or faster, because it is fun.

After you finish your speed-play, spend five minutes stretching and do ten more minutes of slow jogging to cool down.

How long should the play-run last? It's up to you again: ten minutes are great, twenty are better, thirty are really good and forty are probably too much for most people. So you have a complete “quality workout” in a total of forty to sixty minutes, including warming up, stretching and cooling down.

A heart rate monitor is ideal to assess how much effort you put into your run, but it is not absolutely necessary and not much else is needed: no books, no apps, no programs. Again, you’re the boss.

Just put on your trainers, start play-running and see your fitness take off and your legs tone and smoothen up, without the planning, counting and thinking required for interval training.

PS: Although originally developed for runners, the principle of speed-play can be applied in the pool, on the rowing machine, on the bike, on the elliptical machine, everywhere. 

PS 2: If in doubt of your cardiovascular health, always consult your doctor before starting any training regime

 

 

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