Perhaps one of the most common questions that personal trainers world-wide get is how to combat cellulite. You have it, your sister has it, your best friend has it – it seems no one is immune.
The fact is, even thin people can suffer from cellulite, so it isn’t just an issue that has to do with the total amount of body fat you carry. While there’s no question that your body fat level does play a role in the amount of cellulite you have, it’s not the only factor involved.
So what is cellulite? Before you learn how you can rid cellulite from your body, you need to learn why and how it occurs.
Cellulite is an issue that tends to impact women more often than men and has to do with the way the body fat and skin cells are intertwined together. In the skin cells of women, you’ll find collagen fibers that run vertically up and down. Men, on the other hand, have collagen fibers that look more like that of a net, running diagonally from either side. This collagen fiber formation is what allows fat cells that have been built up to essentially push through, creating the dimpled like appearance you know all too well as cellulite. Since men have a different collagen fiber structure, they don’t get this problem nearly as often.
Now, some women do get this issue more than others. And, it’s not always the overweight women experiencing it more. This is largely because each individual will have a different amount of body fat and a different skin make up. Some women have collage fibers that are more like that of a man’s, thus it prevents them from seeing very noticeable cellulite problems. These women may actually have more body fat than other women who have more noticeable cellulite, but because of their skin structuring pattern, it’s not nearly as visible.
To combat cellulite then, you need to take a two-fold approach. You need to look at reducing your body fat as fewer fat cells mean less of that push-thru effect (as they aren’t crammed up against the collagen fibers), as well as looking at what you can do to help strengthen the collagen fibers in the first place. This will then help to keep a stronger barricade and reduce the chances that the fat cells have this effect.
How do you do this?
Let’s go over four ways to decrease the appearance of cellulite on your body.
The first thing you must do if you hope to say goodbye to cellulite is learn to better manage your insulin levels. When the cellulite is located in the lower half of the body (as it is for the vast majority of women), you are dealing with stubborn body fat stores.
They’re called stubborn because as you might have guessed, they’re very tricky to burn off. In order to really get these fat stores moving and releasing their energy, you need to dramatically reduce the level of insulin in your system.
Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas to deal with excess glucose in the blood stream. When it floods your system, it stimulates certain receptors that basically shut the doors on fat release from these stubborn fat cells.
So by minimizing insulin, you ensure that your body can effectively ‘tap’ into these stubborn fat stores for energy. This helps you burn that fat that’s sitting right beneath the area you are seeing cellulite.
You minimize your insulin levels by focusing on a diet that’s very low in carbohydrates and instead, rich in lean protein and healthy fats. You should focus on only taking in carbohydrates from primarily vegetable sources (with a few berries added in if desired) and keep your numbers at 100 grams or less per day.
As much as possible, focus the carbohydrates you do eat around the workout period as it’s at these times that you are more likely to use them for energy and thus, will not release as much insulin.
Now, another characteristic of stubborn fat cells is that they are usually receiving very little blood to the surrounding area. This also contributes to the fact that your body doesn’t readily release the energy from those fat cells for use.
To combat this issue, you’ll want to focus on plenty of intense exercise for the lower body. The more you can get that lower body moving, the better you’ll achieve optimal blood flow to the surrounding area.
Think uphill sprints, intense cycling, or lower body strength exercises such as squats, lunges, and burpees.
These exercises will also bring the added benefit of using plenty of energy while you do them, amplifying the fat burning effect. If you can do these exercises while in a fasted state (when insulin levels are lowest), all the better.
In addition to this, you can also use massage therapy to increase blood flow to these stubborn areas and move around toxins and lymph. These can sometimes be contributing to the dimpled effect.
Just remember that lying on a massage table burns very few calories overall, so while this may help you mobilize the energy from the fat cells, it doesn’t do a whole lot to actually burn that energy off.
Therefore, a combination of massage and exercise is strongly recommended.
You can also help to flush out excess fluid inside the body, which also leads to increased dimpling appearance by sitting in a sauna. This is only an effective short-term solution however as once you rehydrate your body, the dimpling will usually come back. But if you want to look cellulite free in the short term, sitting in a sauna can help you do so.
Now that you’ve addressed the issue of the fat cells pushing through the collagen fibers, you also want to look at what you can do to actually improve the collagen fibers themselves. The best way to do that is through muscle building exercises.
When you strengthen the muscle tissue right underneath the skin, you’ll also be tightening the connective tissue. This can go a long way towards reducing the appearance of cellulite.
As an added benefit, by doing resistance training and building muscle, you’ll also be enhancing your resting metabolic rate, which then makes it easier to burn up body fat and prevent fat gain in the long run.
All in all, strength training is your best defense against cellulite in the future. To maximize the results you get from this, you’ll want to perform strength training exercises that call as many of the large lower body muscles into play as possible, especially those in the glutes and hamstrings as this is where the cellulite issues tend to occur most.
This includes doing squats, deadlifts, lunges, split squats, as well as glute raises. When doing these, it’s essential that you really focus on developing the mind-muscle connection so that you can feel the proper muscles you’re targeting activating under the tension. If you take a very general approach to your weight lifting, other muscles can come into play, taking the stress off the area you want to firm up.
This may at times mean using a lighter weight if needed until you really feel those glutes and hamstrings contracting as they should.
Finally, after all those hard workout sessions are completed, consider utilizing foam rolling to help finish off your cellulite-busting program. Foam rolling can also help with moving the fluid around in the affected areas, helping to decrease the appearance of cellulite and assist with removing any excess built-up toxins present.
Foam rolling is also excellent for reducing tension in the muscle tissues, so in essence, this could also help you work harder during your next workout session leading to superior results.
So while directly, foam rolling may only be a temporary fix, when looked at from an indirect viewpoint, it could help you improve your muscle building efforts, reducing the appearance of cellulite permanently.
There’s no question that cellulite is a frustrating thing for many women. It’s rare to find a woman who isn’t impacted by cellulite so know that you are not alone here.
The good news is that with the right approach and plenty of hard work, you can minimize the appearance of cellulite and start feeling more confident in how you look. Until you start seeing these noticeable results taking place, also keep in mind that getting a light tan (by way of self-tanning creams or spray tans, not tanning beds!) can also help to reduce the appearance of cellulite. For those who need help immediately, this may be an option while you wait for the other techniques descried above to show their benefits.