Cellulite is what gives the skin on your legs a dimpled or lumpy appearance which some say resemble orange peels or cottage cheese.
It is quite common in the hips, thighs, butt and abdomen and more likely to affect women than men because women tend to store more fat in the lower body like hips and thighs.
In fact, 80-90% of women acquire cellulite at some point in their lives.
It also becomes more common with aging because the skin becomes less elastic as your body stores
What causes cellulite?
The primary cause of cellulite is fat, but, this doesn’t mean that slim people have a lower risk of cellulite.
Even if you have a slim frame, you may still have a high body fat percentage.
In fact, the formation of cellulite is largely dependent on your genetic makeup.
People store fat in different areas of the body in different quantities.
This fat distribution is largely dependent on your genes.
So, if you’re slim but you have a very uneven fat distribution, say most of your fat accumulating in the legs and minimal fat in your arms, you could develop cellulite.
There are individual fat cells in your body that have connective tissues or cord-like structures running across them.
As your body starts to store more fat, the fat cells become larger and larger which makes them bulge against the tight connective tissue.
The lumps you see are the enlarged fat cells, and the depressions you see are the tight connective tissue trying to hold it down.
There are several other reasons that can lead to cellulite or make it more visible:
• Foods rich in sodium can make your body retain water, giving it a bloated appearance and making the cellulite more visible.
• Your diet is low in Vitamin C which is a key nutrient in collagen production.
Collagen keeps your skin supple and elastic.
• Poor hydration, either drinking too little water or poor moisturizing of the skin.
Dry skin can make the skin less elastic and exaggerate the appearance of lumpy skin.
• Genetic makeup influences where and how much fat your body stores.
• Genetic makeup influences the way your hormones behave.
Hormones play a critical role in cellulite formation.
Falling estrogen levels can reduce circulation, reduce collagen production and enlarge fat cells.
Combating cellulite through exercise
So, the most logical ways to combat cellulite is to:
• Minimize fat through proper diet and exercise.
• Improving circulation through exercise.
• Improve muscle tone using exercise.
• Keep your skin as elastic and supple as possible through proper diet, hydration and skin care.
There are many cellulite treatments out there from massages, laser treatments to cellulite creams that claim to make your cellulite go away.
However, a lot of these treatments aren’t as effective as advertised because they tend to treat the symptoms rather than the root cause of the issue.
Though there have been some good results from laser treatments after six months, cellulite might reappear again after a while.
There are no shortcuts to combating cellulite.
Laser treatments are a temporary way to deal with the problem.
Long term maintenance of cellulite requires a long-term commitment to a healthy diet and exercise.
Combating cellulite through exercise means blasting away as much fat as possible in the problem areas.
However, you can’t spot treat fat, so you would need to do traditional cardio exercises to reduce fat overall in the body and to reduce your body fat percentage.
Here are 7 great exercises to combat cellulite:
1. Low-Intensity Cardio
The first step to fighting cellulite is to reduce fat around the body.
Cardio is the most efficient way to reduce body fat percentage.
Low-intensity cardio consists of things like running or walking for long duration’s.
Anything that uses between 50-75% of your maximum heart rate is considered low-intensity exercise.
You end up burning more calories with low-intensity exercise because you’re moving the largest muscles in your body, your leg muscle for a long duration.
Low-intensity cardio is also the best for people who are obese or overweight and are dealing with cellulite.
It burns calories gradually and doesn’t place much stress on your heart or joints.
Cardio also helps to improve circulation in the legs, which are problem areas with cellulite.
2. High- Intensity Cardio
If you don’t have the time to go running for 45 minutes or you can handle a reasonably difficult fitness program, high- intensity interval training (HIIT) might be a great way to reduce cellulite.
High- intensity interval training will have you performing intense short bursts of exercise, which utilize over 85% of your maximum heart rate for short periods of time.
You can do HIIT routines in 10 to 15 minutes.
Some research has shown that it is more effective at burning fat because it increases your resting heart rate for up to 24 hours after the workout.
You also elevate growth hormone and reduce insulin which can help reduce fat and improve muscle tone.
It is also great because you can incorporate muscle toning exercises into the routine like squat jumps so you’re doing cardio and muscle building exercises at the same time.
However, HIIT places a lot of stress on the joints so it’s not that ideal for people who are obese or overweight and just starting out with fitness.
3. Squat Jumps
Squat jumps are great because not only do they build your glutes and quads but also improves circulation and burns more fat than stationary squats.
Kill two birds with one stone!
Though, this is probably better for more experienced fitness enthusiasts as they are quite taxing on your joints.
Lunges come in all variants, you can do stationary lunges, walking lunges and curtsy lunges.
Start by balancing on one bent leg.
Place the other leg behind you, also with the leg bent.
For a traditional lunge, your bent legs should form right angles.
Walking lunges or curtsy lunges are better than stationary ones because they have a greater range of motion so engage more leg muscles.
Walking lunges are normal lunges where you move forward using alternate legs and bending both legs like a normal lunge.
A curtsy lunge is a traditional lunge except you’re placing a leg behind you at a diagonal, instead of straight behind.
Deadlifts also come in many variants, you can do traditional deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, etc.
For a traditional one, stand with both feet shoulder-width apart.
Bend your upper body down to lift a weight.
Keep your spine straight and act like there’s a hinge at your hips and your legs and upper body are two separate parts connected at the hinge.
Deadlifts are great for building your glutes and muscle tone.
6. Alternating knee tucks
Assume a bird dog position on a yoga mat while balancing on one bent leg and one arm.
One leg and one arm should be kept straight and sticking out.
The arm and leg that’s sticking out should be alternate limbs.
So, if you’re sticking out your right arm, your left leg should be sticking out.
Bring the arm and leg towards your chest by bending your floating leg towards your chest.
Alternate your leg and arm for the next rep.
Use the ones that you were previously balancing on, this time.
These are great for improving muscle tone and building your glutes.
7. Hip Thrusts
Lie on your back (keeping it flat against the mat) on a mat.
Bring your hips up, so that you’re balancing on your shoulders and two legs.
Your thighs, hips, and chest should form a straight line.
Hip thrusts activate your glutes the most out of all leg exercises.
So, it is great for improving muscle tone in your hips, butt and upper thighs which are all problem areas for cellulite.