How to beat cellulite with high intensity interval training (HIIT)

Interval training is the best exercise against cellulite

In a previous 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.

 

More stretching and cooling down are also 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 fartleks. Fartleks have nothing to do with passing wind or other discomfort - fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish! Fartleks involve 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.

 

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.

 

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.