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What Are the Best Leg Exercises for Women to Diminish Cellulite?

by
author image Elle Di Jensen
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.
What Are the Best Leg Exercises for Women to Diminish Cellulite?
Cardio and resistance exercises that focus on upper legs will diminish cellulite. Photo Credit curtoicurto/iStock/Getty Images

Cellulite favors the hip, thigh and glute areas, but you can't target it through spot-reduction because there's no such thing. Creams, body wraps and other quick fixes are generally ineffective too, as cellulite is essentially fat, so it won't respond to topical treatments or compression. The only way to diminish cellulite is to eliminate fat from your entire body and improve your muscle tone to give your upper legs and tush the smooth look you want.

Cellulite-Banishing Cardio

When the goal is to diminish cellulite, don't confuse losing weight with losing fat. You need to take steps to burn fat from your body in order to reduce the lumpy padding on your glutes, hips and thighs. Even when you lose weight through dieting without exercise, part of the weight lost is muscle. That's why dieting alone has little to no effect on cellulite. What does work is cardio exercise to get your heart rate up. Exercises that work your legs are the best for diminishing the appearance of cellulite because they burn off the fat while toning and firming your leg muscles. Spend 20 minutes on the stair stepper, the elliptical or treadmill, working at about 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. The American Council on Exercise advises participating in one of these cardio exercises three or more days each week to reduce cellulite.

Lunges for Luscious Legs

Lunges are one of the best exercises for reducing the appearance of cellulite because they target two of cellulite's hangouts: your derriere and the fronts of your thighs. Melissa Romero, a former health editor of the Washingtonian, recommends a version of the exercise that will give your legs a more comprehensive workout, focusing on the fronts and backs of your thighs as well as the inside and outside, too. To do around the clock lunges, begin holding dumbbells or hand weights, or simply place your hands on your hips and imagine standing in the middle of a clock's face. Step your left foot forward to 12 o'clock, then return to the starting position. Lunge left to 9 o'clock, then return to start. Lunge back to 6 o'clock, then return to start. Do three to five sets with your left leg before switching to your right leg and lunging to 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock for three to five more sets.

Squats for Graceful Gams

All of the important areas -- glutes, hamstrings, quads, and inner and outer thighs -- will firm and tone up with squats, which is what lands them on the list of the best leg exercises for diminishing cellulite. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a single dumbbell to your chest, or hold two dumbbells, one in each hand with your arms at your sides. Bend your knees and hips, as if you were going to sit down. Keep your back straight and your gaze forward, and lower your body until your upper legs are perpendicular to the floor. Raise up in a controlled move to the starting position. Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps.

Side-Step Cellulite

Use an exercise band to add resistance to a side-step exercise for one of the best moves to smooth out your glutes and outer thighs. Fitness Magazine recommends tying a resistance band around your shins, then moving your feet to slightly wider than shoulder-width apart until you feel tension in the band. Bend your knees to 45 degrees, then step your left foot 3 to 4 inches to the left. Next, bring your right foot in 3 or 4 inches to the left. Continue stepping to the side for 12 to 15 steps, then reverse direction. Complete three sets of 12 to 15 steps in each direction.

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