Female-Specific Tactics: Losing Cellulite from the Hips and Thighs

celluliteCellulite is a multi-faceted problem. Luckily for you, we know how to help!

In this article you’re going to learn more advanced tactics for targeting cellulite on the hips and thighs. 

Got cellulite? We've got you. To recap on last month’s article, we hit three major points regarding what it takes to lose fat from the hips and thighs for good. These are the basics that must be in place before any of the advanced tactics for losing cellulite will do much good:

  1. Perform weight lifting exercises for the lower body. The most important are: squats, deadlifts, leg press, and lunges.
  2. Perform weight lifting exercises for the upper body, too. Make sure you hit the other major muscle groups. If you perform a chest or bench press, a bent-over row, a lat pulldown, and a lateral shoulder raise, you’ve covered the majority of the muscles in the upper body.
  3. Get cardiovascular exercise on a consistent basis. Activities such as brisk incline walking, running, vigorous cycling, the elliptical trainer, the stairmaster, or a vigorous group aerobics class are all great forms of cardio. If you perform cardio for 20-60 minutes at least three times per week, you will burn extra calories and help mobilize stored bodyfat for energy, meaning that you’ll start to lose fat and cellulite from your body as long as your diet is in order.

To review that article in full, go here.

Advanced tactics for losing hip and thigh fat and cellulite

losing cellulite

Relating to Cardio:

1. Perform Vigorous Interval Training twice per week. 

Vigorous interval training is a type of workout where you cycle between a recovery, or "coasting" pace (something you could continue almost indefinitely if you had to, like a slow walk) and a high-exertion, or "sprint" pace (something you couldn’t possibly continue for more than 1-3 minutes if your life depended on it). For example, looking at a stair-climbing workout, walking down four flights of stairs is the recovery pace, while sprinting up the four flights is the high-exertion pace. For a running workout, walking at 3.0 m.p.h. is the recovery pace, while sprinting at 12.0 m.p.h. is the high-exertion pace. The recovery pace should last from 1 minute to 5 minutes, depending on your level of conditioning. The exertion pace should last from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on your level of conditioning and your tolerance for working near maximum exertion (if something limits you from going completely all-out, you’ll have to compensate by staying in the high-exertion phase longer. It’s best for fat loss and cellulite reduction, however, to work as hard as you can during the sprint, even if it’s only for 30 seconds). IMPORTANT - If you’re considering trying interval training for the first time, first you should make sure that you’re already capable of completing 30 minutes of the cardiovascular activity at a moderate pace without it being too much trouble. 

The first time you try intervals, use a perceived rate of exertion scale. Let your recovery pace be at a perceived exertion of 3 out of 10, and let your exertion pace be 8 out of 10. Recover for 5 minutes and exert for 1 minute, and continue alternating periods of recovery with periods of exertion until you’ve completed 20-30 minutes of exercise. Over time, work up to recovering only for 2 minutes at a perceived exertion of 3, and exerting at a 10 for 1 minute, alternated for 20 minutes of total exercise. You might finish off a workout like that with a steady run for 20 minutes more. Interval training is the best method in existence for burning the most calories, bodyfat, and cellulite in the least amount of time. The main reason interval training works so well is because vigorous interval training creates a post-workout calorie burn that can continue for up to 24 hours after your workout (which is similar to what you can get from vigorous weight training). Alternating a sprint/walk on a treadmill or the road, work on the stairmaster or stadium stairs, and cycling are good choices for interval training. Vigorous cardio such as interval training also increases blood flow to the legs - and lack of much blood flow to the legs (due to a lack of vigorous exercise) is one of the main reasons why cellulite in the thighs begins to accumulate.

2. Use Caffeine and/or "thermogenic" formulas.

In stubborn cases of cellulite and lower body fat, or if you’re simply looking for that extra edge, consider taking a supplement that will help your body mobilize stored bodyfat to be burned for energy. These products won’t make you lose fat on their own, but if you’re doing your part by watching your diet (particularly by keeping it low in refined sugar and flour) these supplements can really work wonders. Now that ephedrine has been banned, we are left with caffeine and thermogenic formulas as options for facilitating fatty acid mobilization that has huge implications for reducing lower body fat, including cellulite. When women take these substances, they create a more level playing field (as compared to men) for their potential to burn fat. The various thermogenic formulas available contain different ingredients and claim to work by a variety of mechanisms. These formulas primarily work by increasing the body's own rate of secretion of adrenalin and noradrenalin, which are the neurotransmitters that mobilize fatty acids.

Simple caffeine (yes, the stuff in your coffee) is one chemical that helps your body mobilize fatty acids. For that reason, caffeine is a key ingredient in the most effective thermogenic formulas. If you want something a bit more powerful (but still safe, of course) there are formulas available that combine thermogenic ingredients in a synergistic manner, meaning that the ingredients work better together than they would on their own.

Did you know that we offer in-home as well as video call personal training? Go here to see Our Programs.

3. Consider using Yohimbe/Yohimbine just before your cardio sessions

Yohimbe is a controversial* (but highly effective for many) option for females who are hoping to mobilize stubborn fat and cellulite in the hips and thighs. Keep in mind, if you call your fat deposits "stubborn" it should mean that, in spite of losing overall bodyfat, you still haven't made much of a dent in the hip and thigh area. See, normally you'll see fat comes off the body in the opposite order from how it came on. In other words, the first place you tend to gain fat is the last place you tend to lose it from. If that place is your hips or thighs, you display the typical feminine pattern of bodyfat storage (On the other hand, the most prevalent male pattern is to store fat first around the abdomen). If you simply continue with your diet and exercise and exercise patience (pardon the pun), you very well could eventually see the fat/cellulite come off your hips and thighs - but first, you'll see fat loss in other areas.

That's not necessarily a problem, as long as you don't "hit a wall" and stop losing fat from the hips and thighs. If this happens, you might even start to lose a lot of muscle if you try to diet and exercise "harder" in frustration to see something happen. If you diet until your weight is getting quite low, yet you still have some fat deposits that won't seem to budge, you are a possible candidate for yohimbe.

You must perform cardio for taking yohimbe to be effective. You can use either oral yohimbe or a topical cream containing yohimbe that you apply right to the area you're targeting for fat loss. Apply yohimbe 20 minutes prior to a cardio session, because cardio is required to stimulate the fat-loss effect that this supplement can provide. Also, the oral form of this supplement works much better when taken on an empty stomach, and you shouldn't eat anything for three hours after you take it - if you do, you will negate the effects.

Do not consume carbohydrates during that window of time. If you must eat something, lean protein and/or fat is a better choice, but even those will lessen the fat-loss effects greatly. Seek out a standardized yohimbe extract if you decide to use the pill form. I can't recommend taking yohimbe in pill form in an article like this as it can be too hard on the heart. Since you can still achieve systemic absorbtion when using the cream, use that product with caution and only after discussing the product with your physician.

*Yohimbe can have negative central nervous system effects, so be careful using this substance. Do not take yohimbe with ephedrine under any circumstances. Caffeine can enhance results seen with yohimbe, but tolerance varies. Always take the smallest possible dose to "test the waters" before you take the full dose of any supplement. Monitor your heart rate at all times while using yohimbe, and make sure it stays within 80% of your maximum heart rate to be on the safe side.

Other advanced techniques for losing hip and thigh fat and cellulite

cellulite hips and thighs

4. Eat a "thigh friendly" diet.

If you consume refined carbohydrates like products made with sugar and flour, you're more likely to excess fat and cellulite on your hips and thighs. Saturated fats can be a problem as well. Animal products like meat and dairy, as well as refined snack foods that contain hydrogenated fats (like margarine and vegetable oil in the ingredients list) are the most common places you'll find saturated fat. If you consume flour, sugar, and saturated fat, you'll have much more trouble losing cellulite, even if your total number of calories is in line and you're exercising vigorously. 

Strive to reduce the number of carbs in your diet, particularly the refined carbs found in white bread and pasta and junk food. Keep fruits, vegetables, and a limited amount of complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and oats or whole grain rice in your diet. You should notice a big difference in your body and the appearance/amount of cellulite after 3-4 weeks: in fact, some even notice a change within 4-5 days. Also, be aware that some people have allergies to dairy products, fruit, wheat, and/or nuts which can result in bloating, water retention, and an increase in cellulite. If you suspect you might have a food allergy, experiment with eliminating the offending foods from your diet and see if you notice a difference in bodyfat and cellulite. Visit this page for more info on food allergies: Lower abdominal exercises and food allergies: the key to your cellulite problem? 

Meeting with a Certified Nutritionist can also be a great help in tweaking your diet to help with the appearance of cellulite. We offer Free 15-minute Consultations with the Nutritionist to help you decide if it's a good fit.

5. Eliminate water retention.

Water retention is one of the biggest contributors to cellulite problems. Drinking more water reduces the amount of water stored under your skin. When you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day, it acts as a diuretic because your body feels free to eliminate the excess water it doesn't need at the moment. Your body trusts that it will keep receiving a fresh supply, which makes it less likely to "hoard" water. The absolute minimum amount of water you need to look your best is 64 oz. a day for an average-size person. Personally, I shoot for a gallon, or 128 oz., per day.

Besides drinking enough water, you also should keep tabs on your sodium intake in order to look tight, lean, and cellulite-free. Try to choose foods that are free of added sodium and other preservatives and taste additives like MSG. You will look and feel so much better. Drinking plenty of water helps your body flush out excess sodium, so if you happen to have too much, drinking water can help return your body to normal much quicker. Also, keep in mind that you should have at least 1200 mg per day to keep your body functioning properly. That adds up fast, though, so keep an eye on those nutrition labels.

Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods also helps regulate your digestion, which is another factor that affects water retention. Many cases of cellulite on the hips and thighs are improved greatly just by making some of these dietary changes that allow you to shed water from your body.

Please, whatever you do ladies, don’t waste your time doing 25, 30, or even 50 reps with light weight for lower body exercises. Sure, you are burning some calories when you lift "light" like this, but you're not burning as many as you would if you were doing cardio for the same length of time. You also won't be able to build or maintain much, if any lean tissue when you're lifting light weights only, so lifting light weights is really just a waste of your time. If you follow the guidelines above, you will never train the old way again, because you will see and feel the benefits of following my advice--and you'll see the cellulite start vanishing before your eyes!

The last point I need to make is that everyone, and I mean everyone, has a pattern to fat storage and fat loss, and a certain predisposition (or lack thereof) for cellulite. If you put on fat first and have the most fat in the legs, the last place you will lose fat (but it WILL come off eventually) is in the legs as you continue to drop in overall bodyfat percentage. As long as you are losing body fat, eventually it has to come off the problem area. Once your body finally gets to the part where it is burning fat from your problem area, the fat will come off that area rapidly, because all your other excess fat will be gone, and your body will have no choice but to attack the stubborn area and burn the last fat deposits you have left on your body. The danger lies in being impatient and trying to do too much cardio or eat too little to hasten the fat loss. This usually leads you to muscle loss, which typically causes your loss of body fat to grind to a halt. In fat loss, slow and steady definitely wins the race. Monitor your bodyfat on a monthly basis to be sure you’re on track. Consider consulting with a trainer to modify your program so you get the results you want. Recommit yourself to following a clean diet or being consistent with your workouts if you aren’t losing the fat as rapidly as you'd like. Once you are below 22-25% bodyfat as a female, however, it is unrealistic to think you'll lose more than 1% a month, even if you are doing everything right. If you lose faster than that, your metabolism will slow and you'll have trouble keeping the fat and cellulite permanently off your body.

If you like what you've read in this article and would like to read more from Gina Paulhus, check out her latest book, Change Your Weighs.