Does the Elliptical Help with Cellulite?

Because elliptical trainers involve a lot of stepping, it’s reasonable to ask, does the elliptical help with cellulite? After all, if you’re working your legs that hard, it must do something to them, right?

In this article, we’ll look at the effect (if any) that elliptical trainers have on cellulite. We’ll also suggest some specific workouts for targeting cellulite and the legs in general.

Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have everything you need to get the most from your elliptical trainer.

Does the Elliptical Help with Cellulite? An elliptical trainer helps with cellulite in that it can burn body fat. Over time, this can reduce the appearance of cellulite in the thighs and and hamstring area. However, because of the way cellulite works, you’ll never permanently remove it from your body. The best way to reduce its appearance is by burning fat and increasing muscle, which the elliptical can do.

What is Cellulite?

To better understand why this is the case, let’s first look at what exactly we mean by cellulite. Having this understanding will help us know why an elliptical trainer can’t completely remove it from your body.

So, what is cellulite?

Cellulite is the dimpled appearance of the skin around the thighs, hips and bum. It’s caused by the presence of fat under the skin and, due to the way bodies store fat, is more prevalent in women. However, men can get cellulite, too.

The first thing to note before we go any further is that cellulite is completely natural and harmless. Sure, some people don’t like its appearance, but having cellulite doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your body.

does the elliptical help with cellulite

Let’s get a bit sciency to understand why.

One area of the body in which fat is stored is the subcutaneous layer, which means under the skin. In cellulite-prone areas, the fat takes up space between the muscles near the connectors that tether skin to muscle. As fat deposits increase, they press against the skin, while the connective cords pull the skin down. This results in the dimpled appearance characteristic of cellulite.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this is about the extent of our understanding of cellulite. We’re not entirely sure why it targets these areas specifically, although it might be due to the higher presence of muscles and skin depth compared to, say, your arms or abdomen.

Cellulite is more common in women because they’re genetically predisposed to store more fat in these areas. This is because of their relationship to pregnancy, both as energy stores and protection for the baby. In fact, up to 90% of women have cellulite after puberty.

Elliptical Trainers and Cellulite

So, now we understand what it is, let’s go back to how elliptical trainers help (or don’t) with cellulite. When you gain weight, fat cells are easily created. However, when you lose the weight, they don’t disappear completely. Instead, they shrink. As such, there will always be some level of fatty deposits left after you diet.

When using an elliptical, you can burn through stored energy (in the form of fat) via aerobic exercise. At the same time, you build muscle through resistance-based exercises. While these exercises can also burn fat, they’re more about reshaping the body.

Building muscle makes your body look more toned and, by extension, changes its appearance. This doesn’t mean the fat in certain areas has disappeared but more that it’s not as noticeable.

The bottom line is that an elliptical trainer can certainly help with cellulite by burning fat and building muscle. However, it’ll never completely get rid of cellulite because it’s simply a natural way for the body to store fat in these particular areas.

Does an Elliptical Make Legs Skinnier?

If you’ve read this far, you can probably guess whether an elliptical makes your legs skinnier.

The short answer is yes, an elliptical trainer helps make your legs skinnier. This is because it targets muscle groups in your legs while also providing an excellent cardio workout. Combined, these factors mean your legs will look skinnier with enough work.

However, it’s worth noting that using an elliptical trainer won’t specifically burn fat in your legs. As your body uses stored energy, there’s no way to tell where it’ll take it from. Everyone’s bodies do this differently, so you might find yourself losing fat around your stomach before your legs become skinnier.

The type of workout you do will vary your results, too. For example, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is focused more on cardio, whereas resistance training is focused on muscle building. For the best results – and the skinniest legs – you’ll want to include both in your elliptical routine.

Of course, elliptical exercises alone won’t result in skinnier legs. For best results, you’ll also want to watch what you eat and make sure your diet has a calorie deficit. After all, there’s little point in burning calories through exercise if you simply put them back with a big dinner!

What Cardio is Best for Cellulite?

The best cardio for cellulite is anything that’s low intensity and provides plenty of opportunity for burning calories. Some of the best cardio workouts for cellulite include:

·  Swimming

·  Exercise bikes

·  Mini steppers

·  Elliptical trainers

Of course, we’ll only focus on elliptical workouts here seeing as it’s the point of the article. Plus, for something like swimming, there’s little you need to do other than get in a pool and swim!

In fact, an elliptical trainer is particularly good for targeting cellulite-prone areas because it works your glutes and thighs. While this doesn’t specifically target fat in these areas, it helps with muscle toning instead.

So, let’s look at some good elliptical workouts that help target cellulite.

Workout Frequency

Before looking at some workout routines for the elliptical, you first need to decide how often you plan to use it. This will dictate how long and intense your workouts are. You either want:

·  Daily sessions of 15 to 45 minutes

·  3 sessions a week of at least 1 hour of intense workout

Also, think about what intense means to you. It’ll depend on your current fitness level and tolerance for raising your heart rate. If you haven’t been exercising much recently, don’t push yourself too hard too soon. Instead, focus on building your stamina for a few weeks before moving on to larger workouts.

HIIT Elliptical Workout

A HIIT elliptical workout involves short bursts of high-intensity stepping separated by periods of slower walking. This is designed to raise your heart rate and metabolism while allowing you to work harder for longer. Here’s a basic routine that you can tailor to your own fitness needs:

1. Set the elliptical at a resistance level that is comfortable for moving fast but still providing a burn.

2. Do 5 minutes of relatively slow stepping to warm up.

3. Then, move into a 1-minute period of intense stepping. Aim to go as fast as you can while maintaining a constant and steady pace.

4. Once the minute is up, do 30 seconds of very slow stepping to recover.

5. Follow this with 2 more reps to finish the set.

6. Once that’s over, consider taking a short break from the machine.

7. Next, complete a 5-10 minute period of moderate stepping on the elliptical. This is to keep your heart rate up while not working yourself too hard.

8. Repeat steps 3-7 for the rest of your workout time or for as long as you can manage.

If you want to get super fancy, you could mix in periods of mat-based exercise. For example, use your post-rep time to do planks, sit-ups, exercise ball workouts, or whatever else you fancy. While this won’t specifically target your leg fat, it’ll help engage other areas of your body to keep everything moving.

That said, there are plenty of stretches you can add in that target your leg muscles. Lunges and squats always help, as do plenty of yoga positions. The benefit of adding these in is that they work muscles with very little stress and also improve your flexibility. Plus, something like yoga is a great way of winding down after an intense workout.

Resistance Elliptical Workout

As mentioned, for best results you’ll want to mix cardio and muscle building. You don’t need to do resistance exercises as regularly; 3 times a week should be fine. In fact, having rest days between helps your muscles repair the micro-tears created during the workout.

A resistance exercise is easy to set up and therefore requires very little explanation. Start by setting a resistance that’s almost unmanageable. It should be difficult to step on the elliptical, and you should feel like you have to force your feet down with each step.

Then, simply walk for around 30 minutes. You don’t need to move fast. In fact, slow walking is preferable for resistance exercises because it gives you chance to really focus on your technique and the effort required to make each step.

Mixing the Two

You can always mix both routines during the same workout if you want. For example, you could do 1 rep of HIIT followed by a 5-10 minute period of resistance workout. Varying the speed, resistance, and incline of the elliptical will help keep your heart rate up and your legs working properly.

Front to Back Workouts

This is another simple one that can vary the muscle groups you use while working out. Simply switch the direction you’re walking. Naturally, you walk “forwards” on an elliptical by pushing your feet into the machine.

But it’s possible to also walk backwards on an elliptical by essentially drawing your feet away from the machine. It takes a bit of effort to keep it up, but it’s worth it to target different muscles. Also, make good use of the elliptical’s handles, as you’ll need a bit of extra stability during this workout.

30-Minute Sprint

Don’t try this one until you’ve properly built your stamina levels. In short, this involves maintaining a sprinting pace for 30 minutes without stopping. It sounds challenging because it is.

If you don’t think you’ll be capable of doing 30 minutes, start at 10 or 15 and work your way up. Bear in mind that few professional athletes can keep up a sprint pace for 30 minutes, so decide what works for you in terms of speed and resistance.

The point is to keep your heart rate raised for a prolonged period without exerting too much effort that it’s unsustainable. It’s different from HIIT in this regard because you’re focusing on longer exertion rather than short, almost unmanageable bursts.

How Long Will it Take to See Results?

There’s no single answer as to how long it’ll take you to reduce cellulite using an elliptical trainer. It depends on your body fat percentage, your current fitness levels, and numerous other variables.

Don’t expect to see noticeable results for at least a month or 2. It could even take 6 to 9 months for you to reach your desired level of fitness and appearance. Again, it ultimately depends on your starting point.

Of course, if you want specific guidance, make sure you consult a personal trainer. They’ll help you develop a plan based on your goals and targeted areas. Better yet, it’ll include a variety of workouts across all types of machines, giving you plenty of flexibility and experience around the gym.

Final Thoughts on Ellipticals and Cellulite

You should now know how an elliptical trainer can help reduce the appearance of cellulite through a combination of cardio and muscle building. Remember, though, it’ll never completely remove cellulite because that’s not how the body works.

The next question you must ask yourself is whether this justifies buying an elliptical trainer for your home or simply using the one at the gym. While the gym is convenient, owning your own equipment gives you far more flexibility.

Whichever you choose, enjoy using the elliptical trainer as part of a wider workout routine for targeting your legs.

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An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!