What it is?

Cellulite is a metabolic disorder of the subcutaneous tissue located generally at the gluteal-femoral and abdominal levels, which gives the skin an “orange peel” appearance. The prevalence about the female sex is quite high: at least 85-90% of women over the age of 20 are reported to have developed cellulite of some degree, so much that some authors consider it a normal condition in predisposed women.

Causes

It is not a pathological condition, but a normal one: it should not be confused with overweight and obesity, which depend mainly on non-localized fat accumulation.  Cellulite, on the other hand, depends mainly on structural, metabolic, biochemical and morphological factors. The bulk of cellulite therefore, is determined by a genetic component, so much so that there is a segment of the female population that is predisposed precisely because of a particular architecture of the dermis, that is the subcutaneous layer.

In men, for example, this particular structure is present in only 10% of cases, which explains why it is a topic of more interest to the female sex.

The genetic factor is not the only one that determines this condition: a wrong lifestyle determined mainly by improper diet, improper hydration and strong periods of stress determine an unhealthy body composition.

Chronic stress leads to the production of steroids and sex hormones (estrogens) that stimulate adipose tissue, particularly that most receptive to fat (consisting of alpha receptor adipocytes), to accumulate more and more of it.

This explains why areas highly prone to cellulite are the abdominal and gluteal-femoral areas: they generally have adipose tissue composed of more cells that tend to retain fat instead of synthesizing it. Carrying on a condition of stress in the chronic, then certainly does not promote slimming, and thus good body composition.

Resolutions

As with so many things, there is a push for topical remedies (via medications) or invasive ones, such as surgery. Scientifically speaking, there is no evidence to certify the long-term safety and efficacy of these remedies and these are very often expensive.

Obviously, those people who do not have economic means, often fall victim to products of dubious origin and with zero scientific basis: for example, products involving certain agents such as retinoids and aminophylline.

Take the latter for example: in theory, aminophylline stimulates fat synthesis cells, but this effect is in vain, because, as we have seen above, the areas that affect cellulite are made up of cells that instead stimulate its accumulation.

Some products can help, but their effectiveness falls second to following a healthy lifestyle:

-maintaining a proper diet;

-hydrating (according to SINU guidelines it is recommended for women to drink at least 2lt/d);

-avoid chronic stress;

-avoid extreme diets where you eliminate foods such as salt or carbohydrates or fat, to not alter the hormonal profile and thus generate metabolic stress with health implications;

-take care of sleep (at least 6-8 hours);

What about workout?

When we talk about a correct lifestyle it is impossible not to talk about workout as well: contrary to what we hear, however, there is no specific workout method apt to eliminate cellulite. The purpose of training is to improve body composition and therefore it must be as much personalized as possible on the individual person, for this reason we cannot speak of a single efficient method.

Improving one’s body composition means nothing more than increasing muscle mass at the expense of fat mass. Now, if cellulite occurs in areas such as the gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle in our body and consequently the strongest, it becomes given that exercises should be chosen with an appropriate intensity to stimulate the muscle, which is not what is professed on social media by super cool models with little exercises or fat burning circuits

Exercises such as the Back Squat with barbell, Hip Trust, Deadlift, variations of Bulgarian Squats even with lower repetitions and high overloads, have tremendous benefits on muscle development and reduction of adiposity (fat mass) and thus reduction of cellulite. Exercises labeled strength training are not the preserve of men.                                 

Women have a greater systemic capacity to withstand fatigue because they are better able to channel fat for energy purposes. Obviously, the intensity and type of exercise should be chosen respecting aspects, such as women’s physiology and mobility without forcing the executions.

In addition, it is important not to neglect training the upper body by alternating it with the lower body within the training program. This not only allows recovery between muscle groups, but also promotes good circulation throughout the body, which is instrumental in managing cellulite.

In conclusion…

Cellulite represents a condition that is recognized by many authors as the norm in all women over 20-25 years of age. In general, the directions to follow are the same for anyone who wants to get in shape, precisely because there are no targeted and specific scientific remedies, unlike what marketing wants you to believe with workouts and diets made for cellulite.         

Obviously training with the right stimuli and proper nutrition are essential, but it is all strictly dependent on genetic predisposition: cellulite is a characteristic of being a woman and is closely linked to the female hormonal system.

Lastly, I leave an extremely interesting article in which besides giving more in-depth information, it reconstructs historically how cellulite was born: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-cellulite-forever/

Author

Samuel Cascini
streetlifting & calisthenics coach

4 years of experience in streetworkout, helps you to develop strenght and muscle mass with bodyworkout and weights

George Charm

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