Is Cellulite Haunting your Bikini Body? – By Aimee Stevens
We’re delighted to have our first ever guest post written by one of the most knowledgable Personal Trainers in the industry. Aimee Stevens, managing director at IPT Fitness, is amongst the most qualified and experienced personal trainers in the UK.
With degrees from top UK universities as well as certification from the Australian Performance Training Institute, and a host of high profile clientele spanning three continents, we asked Aimee for her top tips on firming skin and in particular on how to tackle cellulite in the gym…
One for the ladies, by Aimee
It’s easy to clean up the diet, do a little training, and lose a little weight. However, what is a more difficult task in hand is smoothing out a particular type of fat…. The dreaded cellulite. In my experience, this is not always relative to body fat, cellulite does not discriminate! I have known ‘slim’ clients suffer from this stubborn issue. To tackle cellulite, we need to take a multidimensional approach:
- Nutritional matters, including toxic exposure and hydration
- Skin matters (speak to our friends at Cloud 9)
- Hormonal matters
- Training matters
As a personal trainer, I am going to discuss how you can modify your training to help combat the appearance of this problem. Cellulite can strike anywhere on the body, however the most common area by far I see is on the lower body on the hips, bums, and thighs.
Of the female clients that come to see us, the number one goal is to ‘tone up’. Firstly, to ‘tone’ a muscle is a misnomer, what the client actually means here is to lose fat in the area to reveal shape of the muscle. However, as the term ‘tone’ does communicate the image of what the client is looking for, it may sneak into my vocabulary here.
Now, from my insight, the female clients I see fall into two categories on how we would approach both their training and diet to achieve their goal of ‘tone’:
- Type 1 : this female client has a higher body fat percentage with a greater muscle mass naturally, and the training and diet will aim to make a deficit for the client to lose weight and ‘burn’ fat.
- Type 2: This type of female client is ‘slim’ (not always a low body fat, that is a different issue), with a low muscle mass. The training and nutrition here will typically be aimed to ‘build’ in order to ‘tone’ and shape the physique.
Regarding training modalities for both body types here, increasing circulation to the area being trained will be beneficial to reducing appearance of cellulite. How do we do that? Yes, you guessed it, train the area! Not to confuse, you cannot ‘spot reduce’ fat areas with training (sorry to those with a tummy fat roll or two completing countless ab crunches and sit ups… it just doesn’t work like that), however in terms of the goal to reduce cellulite, increasing blood circulation to the surrounding muscles is key. So, how do we achieve this most effectively in the gym?
- Anaerobic interval training using the muscles involved in the areas, eg prowler/strongman sprints, hill sprints, bike intervals on a high resistance – make sure you feel the ‘burn’ in the area
- Weight training using the muscles involved in the area which activate both fast and slow twitch muscle fibres through utilising varying rep ranges and tempos eg, squats, lunges, deadlifts…
In both interval and weight training lactic acid is our weapon here. The intervals would need to be anaerobic with a long recovery time for this to be completely effective. Regarding lactic acid training with weights on the other hand, higher reps, with a greater overall time under tension is more effective.
Meanwhile, it is also important not to neglect lower reps training if you are wanting to improve the appearance of your body shape and cellulite appearance. Lower reps (for example anything under 12) are important as this rep range is sufficient to cause adaptation on the muscle structure, and it is these exercises, particularly deadlifts, squats, and lunges, which give your body a great shape, all of which helps improve the appearance of cellulite. In addition, rotating training cycles of lower and higher reps is one of the best ways to keep the body adapting.
For those ladies worried about putting on too much size on their legs and bum from weight training – look at your diet. Yes, it is more difficult for women to gain muscle due to hormones etc, however it is not impossible. When the diet is in check (as I can vouch for from personal experience – I am type 1 ‘blessed’ with a very muscular lower body; I need to lose fat to ‘tone’), the legs become smaller in size and appearance.
But what about cardio? Jogging? Aerobics?! Of course, any activity is better than none in terms of health, however with this specific issue of cellulite, in my opinion, particularly in the absence of a structured weight training programme this could do more harm than good. Combine this with a low calorie diet, and you are really in trouble in your bikini; Possible muscle loss, a stressed metabolism, and less than favourable hormonal profile will unfortunately result in stubborn subcutaneous fat stores. Lower body fat has been linked to poor estrogen metabolism, and it is weight training which promotes a healthy hormonal balance, as opposed to prolonger cardiovascular training which can increase catabolic stress hormones and decrease androgens.
In a nut shell : fellow type 1 ladies, focus your training (and diet) on fat loss training and don’t complain until you are near your optimal leans in both upper and lower body. Type 2 ladies; structure your training (and diet) to ‘build’ and change the shape of your body. Both types however, get off your cross trainers and into that squat rack ladies!
IPT Fitness and their amazing before/ after results can be found on: www.iptfitness.co.uk