I’ve been a fitness enthusiast and weight lifter for about 5-6 years. I’m a 28 year old female, 5’4″ and about 145lbs. I would approximate my body fat to be about 18-22%, so I feel that I am relatively lean with a decent amount of muscle. Like many females, I have struggled for years with a “healthy” layer of fat/cellulite on my thighs while the rest my body is quite lean. I have tried huge amount of cardio only, then cardio and weight lifting, then just weight lifting at an intense pace, and of course, eating clean at about a 50% protein, 25% carb, and 25% fat ratio. And yet, nothing has proved to get rid of the fat and cellulite. I’m not big on taking fat burners or thermogenics, but I’m not opposed to them either.
I think the most frustrating part of trying to lean out my thighs is not only my inability to so far, plus I’m in the process of getting my CPT with NASM, and yet I’m struggling with myself! I’ve attached a recent pic of me in at the gym. I’m in leggings so you can’t get idea of the fat/cellulite but you can see my overall physique.
If you have any suggestions or recommendations, I’m all ears! I thank you in advance for your response.
A question like this demands a longer answer than I typically offer, so please bear with me. (I’ll make it worth your while, I promise!).
You appear to be in pretty good shape already. Of course, I’m never satisfied with my own physique. So, I always appreciate anyone’s desire to get into even better condition. What you’re describing is extremely common. I believe this dilemma is commonplace because the vast majority of so-called ‘experts’ in the world tend to prescribe a generic approach to addressing the issue. These cookie-cutter diets and workout plans have an astounding failure rate!
Listen, the problem with this type of approach is that with over 7 billion people in the world, none of them are exactly the same. Body chemistry varies from person to person. So what works for one individual may not work for the next. The end result is overwhelming confusion, controversy, and frustration.
Since I don’t have the luxury of being able to read your DNA or hormones, I can’t say for certain what approach is the best for you. However, what I can tell you is the determining factor for success or failure with any diet or workout has to do with hormonal responses in your body. Excess fat storage and cellulite in the lower body could be the result of estrogen levels creeping up too high and growth hormone levels being deficient.
Furthermore, when insulin levels rise and catecholamine levels drop, the body stores fat much more easily. Then, it has a more difficult time burning it.
The adrenal glands make the hormone Catecholamines. They play a significant role in the fat burning process. I think a good approach would be maximizing natural HGH and catecholamine levels while you simultaneously work on controlling excess estrogen and insulin spikes.
Let’s begin with a few ways to maximize your growth hormone levels naturally. Research shows High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) increases growth hormone production drastically. The key here is to maximize your heart rate with short intense bursts of exercise which leads to a significant boost in HGH levels. Another aspect of HIIT that boosts HGH levels is the activation of the super-fast twitch muscle fibers. Upon activation, these fibers will trigger a substantial release of growth hormone into the bloodstream.
The following tempo is what my clients find most effective when performing HIIT. Alternate 1 minute high-intensity intervals (sprints), followed by 3 minutes of lower intensity intervals (slow jog). Do this for about 20 minutes total. By the way, your choice of aerobic exercise for HIIT doesn’t need to be running. You can ply HIIT to almost any form of cardio exercise.
In contrast, lengthy cardio sessions will have a negative impact on your growth hormone levels. So, I would avoid marathon cardio sessions. Intense weightlifting boosts HGH levels and increases muscle mass. This increases your basal metabolic rate. So, you should absolutely implement an exercise regimen that includes both weightlifting and aerobics.
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I’ve always been an advocate for lifting weights on non-consecutive days and doing cardio on my days off from lifting. In fact, I never do cardio and weight training back-to-back. It will increase your chances of reducing growth hormone levels and increasing cortisol levels. Cortisol hinders fat loss when your levels elevate too high.
Now, you’re probably going to cringe when I say this, but fasting is a proven way to drastically boost your natural growth hormone levels. I know several people who do a 24-hour fast on a weekly or biweekly basis to optimize their levels. In fact, human studies have shown that fasting for 24 hours could increase your natural growth hormone levels by a whopping 2,000%!
(More in Part 2)
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