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Exercise and the Fight against Cellulite

Exercise and the Fight against Cellulite

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Cellulite. Mere mention of the word is enough to make many women – and some men – shudder with dread. Women have long been told that cellulite is incurable and simply a natural, if unwanted, part of their bodies. Some medical and nutritional professionals, however, have begun singing a new tune.

Dimples, Orange Peel, Cottage Cheese – Oh My!

An increased amount of attention on the condition – and research by dozens of cosmetics companies – has produced a rash of creams, gels, and scrubs claiming to minimize the appearance of cellulite dimples. Injectable solutions, detoxifying body wraps, and an assortment of pricey massage-like treatments have also cropped up. Unfortunately, none has proven to do for cellulite what BOTOX® Cosmetic, for example, does for furrowed foreheads. At the end of the day, most women still wonder whether it’s possible to reduce cellulite the good old-fashioned way: through diet and exercise. The answer? Yes…and no.

What’s in a Name

Cellulite is simply another name for the layer of fat that is closest to the skin. When these fat cells expand too much, they can cause surrounding collagen fibers to warp, leaving the skin above looking puckered and uneven. Due to a frustrating trifecta of estrogen, genetics, and excess fat, this uppermost layer is less conducive to lymphatic drainage and typically does not respond well to changes in diet, exercise, or hormone levels. But the operative word here is “typically.” While exercise cannot necessarily eliminate cellulite, new studies have shown that consistent physical training might, in fact, reduce its appearance.

Work It Out

In his book No More Cellulite, fitness expert Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., outlines a cellulite-fighting, three-times-a-week regimen that combines 20 minutes of moderate cardio exercise with 20 minutes of strength training to target both the upper and lower body. After two months on his plan, Westcott’s test group displayed a significant reduction in overall body fat, as well as a decrease in the prominence of cellulite dimples. When integrated with a low-fat diet, this type of combination fitness program can help minimize existing cellulite and even prevent it from developing further.

For Fitness’ Sake

By increasing circulation and improving muscle tone in the waist, buttocks, and thighs, regular cardio and strengthening exercises can help to shrink cellulite. Yet weight loss does not mean the actual loss of body fat – the fat cells don’t go anywhere, they just become smaller. Even some of the trimmest, most athletic women have to deal with cellulite. Focusing on a fitness goal that includes more than just reducing the appearance of cellulite will help you stay positive and committed to the lifestyle changes needed for lasting improvement and a healthier, better-toned physique.

Exercise Routines to Reduce Cellulite

Exercise: Squats
Target: The glutes and thighs
How to Do It:
1) Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
2) Slowly lower the body by bending at the knees, keeping the thighs parallel with the floor.
3) Gradually straighten into standing position.
The squat is one exercise you should include in your cellulite-reduction exercise routine. Performed properly, squats will help build the muscles on your thighs and buttocks, the areas of the body where cellulite is likely to show.
4) Perform three sets of 15 squats each.
Advanced Option: Hold five-pound weights in each hand, raising them above the shoulders.

Exercise: The Butt-Push
Target: The glutes and thighs
How to Do It:
1) Lie on your back with your knees up and pointed toward the ceiling. Feet should be firmly planted on the ground.
2) Slowly push your butt and stomach all the way up so that only your feet, head, and neck remain on the floor.
3) Slowly return to staring position.
4) Perform three sets on 25 butt-pushes each.
Advanced Option: Perform an additional set.

Exercise: Leg Dips
Target: The abs and thighs
How to Do It:
1) Lie on the floor or exercise mat.
2) Place hands behind your ears.
3) Raise both legs into the air so they point straight up.
4) Lower the legs until they are about 12 inches from the floor, keeping the back pushed up against the floor.
5) Raise the legs to starting position, keeping the back pushed against the floor.
6) Perform three sets of 15 leg dips each.
Advanced Option: Have your gym partner stand behind your shoulders, while you grip their ankles. Each time you raise your legs up your partner should push your legs back down, making it more difficult for you to stop the downward movement.

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