How’s it going Train Loco readers! Today we have a fantastic guest blog by our friend David Martin, a Strength and Conditioning Coach based out of Orlando, Florida. We asked David to contribute a piece regarding the BIG misconceptions and MISLEADING info on Cellulite. This is a touchy subject for women mainly, but we asked the right person to give us the correct information regarding this popular topic. Get the low-fat popcorn in the microwave, pen and paper out, glutes tight, back straight, and get ready to learn.
-Eric and Chris
This is a touchy subject for some but there’s a lot to be said that I think you should know. Ladies, this article is for you in particular if you’re someone that has suffered from the unsightly appearance of cellulite. Yeah, I’m sure even seeing that word makes you cringe a little! Don’t fret because the truth is that about 80%-90% of post-pubertal females suffer from some form of cellulite [1,2,5] whether it is located in the thighs, pelvic region, buttocks, abdomen, or arms. You shouldn’t feel like a leper amongst your peers or like your situation is a special case because if you look around, there’s likely a very obvious reason why the lady standing next to you is wearing yoga pants and it’s not just because they are comfy! True story. Think about those same women you see at the gym on a regular basis that never wear shorts but always opt for pants instead. It’s not just you!
Some women would likely describe cellulite as a visual and visceral betrayal of not only their aesthetics but also their self-esteem. Cellulite gives a dimply, ‘orange peel,’ or ‘cottage cheese’ appearance to the skin of the thighs, pelvic region, buttocks, abdomen, or arms in women. By no means is it a disease but is basically a cosmetic alteration of the skin that can take the form of smaller dimples or larger areas that form lumpy skin, deep dimples, or creases. If you’ve taken an anatomy course, you know the outermost layer of the skin that you can see and touch is called the epidermis. Directly under that layer is the dermis, which is where hair follicles, sweat glands, blood vessels, nerve receptors, and connective tissue reside. Below the dermis is where you will find subcutaneous fat – or fat beneath the skin – which is also just above your muscles. Under the dermis is where you will find the origin of cellulite [1,5,9]. Long story short, the skin dimpling you see on the outside layer, the epidermis, is caused by fat protrusions seeping into the dermis.
So how is cellulite caused? One thing to always consider regardless of the individual is that genetics play a huge role in whether or not you will be predisposed to cellulite. Thank mother dearest for your cellulite if she has/had it too! Other genetic traits such as having thinner skin or a lighter complexion can also allow cellulite to become more visible. Cellulite is rarely seen in men unless they lack male hormones  also because men and women having differing connective tissue structure at the first layer of subcutaneous fat . Cellulite tends not to discriminate either as it affects women of all shapes, sizes, and color (skinny women too). Caucasian females tend to be affected the most followed by Asian females, however, Avram’s assessment notes that cellulite is present in females of all races . In a review performed by Rossi and Vergnanini in 2000, they found that a high-stress lifestyle could also contribute to the accumulation of cellulite . Try finding ways to distress if you’re always on edge or suffering from some form of anxiety. Perhaps find an interesting book to read, go get a massage, or even play some Michael Bublé while you clean the house if that flips your skirt. Exercise is also a fantastic solution but we’ll talk about the benefits of that in a moment…
Focus on the things you can control and say the serenity prayer if need be but there are some factors about cellulite you can control and others you cannot. Inevitable circumstances such as aging tend to wear down the thickness and structural integrity of the skin, which could heighten the appearance of cellulite. Hormonal changes during pregnancy are also unavoidable. Women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men, particularly in the thighs, buttocks, and hips. It makes sense because these areas have five times more fat cells than any other area of their body , which is why cellulite is most prevalent there. The things that you can control that may make the appearance of cellulite worse are making sure to avoid very low calorie diets, yo-yo dieting, chronically consuming excessively high intakes of carbohydrates, substantial increases in body fat, becoming sedentary, and not drinking adequate amounts of fluids. Seems kind of obvious right?
There is no cure or magical fix for cellulite, sorry. Spending money on liposuction, subcision, injectables, skin kneading and manipulation techniques, thermotherapy, topical ointments, and herbals for cellulite management may provide a temporary relief but evidence for the efficacy of these practices is limited and also very costly . Some of these practices do more harm than good with risks ranging from permanent scarring, bruising, burns, skin deformation, painful knots, and in some cases the cellulite actually returns!
Ladies, your best bet to combat cellulite is to choose a healthy lifestyle that combines a balanced diet of all the proteins, carbs, and fats your body responds best to along with regular exercise in the form of strength training and aerobic activity. Studies confirm that females that lose weight lessen the appearance of cellulite  so make sure you are consuming the appropriate amount of calories that allow for steady fat loss without starving yourselves because crash dieting or other aggressive approaches can lead to rapid weight loss causing the skin to thin out and sag, possibly making the appearance of cellulite much worse . Along with the health-boosting benefits of regular exercise, utilizing regular resistance training will shrink those fat cells leading to reductions in your total body fat percentage, increased strength, boost confidence, and provide more muscle definition in the areas you want it most such as the thighs, glutes, abdomen, and arms! Remember that diet is going to be the most important factor in weight loss, however, try to incorporate exercises such as goblet squats and lunge variations to tighten up your thighs. Chris and Eric will agree that performing hip thrust and glute bridge variations will give you a great set of glutes to fill out your favorite pair of jeans! Reducing the appearance of cellulite around the midsection can be accomplished with various forms of direct abdominal exercise or core work while also dropping inches. If you think you may have areas plagued by cellulite then I would recommend adding those exercises to your routines as solid examples. Remember to manipulate the loads used for each exercise in a progressive manner along with the amount of sets, amount of repetitions, and how frequently you perform each exercise week to week to ensure steady progress. Best of luck!
“David Martin is an Orlando, FL based Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Level 1 Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting (USAW), and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through the American College of Sports Medicine. David specializes in strength training, sports nutrition, and flexibility/mobility and offers private training, online coaching, and outdoor fitness with Camp Gladiator. For more on David and the services he offers, check out http://dmartinfitness.com/coaching”
- Avram, M. (2004). Cellulite: a review of its physiology and treatment. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 6, 181-185.
- Emanuele E, Bertona M, Geroldi D (2010). “A multilocus candidate approach identifies ACE and HIF1A as susceptibility genes for cellulite”. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 24 (8): 930–5.
- Heyward, V.H. (2006). Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription 6th Edition. Human Kinetics.
- del Pino, E., Rosado, R., Auela, A., Guzman, G., Arguelles, D., Rodriguez, C., and Rosado, G. M. (2006). Effect of controlled volumetric tissue heating with radiofrequency on cellulite and the subcutaneous tissue of the buttocks and thighs. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 5(8), 709-717.
- Rawlings, A. (2006). Cellulite and its treatment. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 28, 175-190.
- Rosenbaum, M., Prieto, V., Hellmer, J., Boschmann, M., Krueger, J., Leibel, R.L., and Ship, A.G. (1998). An exploratory investigation of the morphology and biochemistry of cellulite. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 101, 1934-1939.
- Rossi AB, Vergnanini AL (July 2000). “Cellulite: a review”. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 14 (4): 251–62.
- Sadick, N., and Magro, C. (2007). A study evaluating the safety and efficacy of the Velasmooth™ system in the treatment of cellulite. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 9, 15-20.
- Wanner M, Avram M (April 2008). “An evidence-based assessment of treatments for cellulite”. J Drugs Dermatol7 (4): 341–5.