Dramatically Reduce the Appearance of Cellulite on Your Thighs With Exercise

Cellulite is made up of pockets of fat that sit right below the skin's surface. It becomes visible because this fat squeezes between the bands that connect the muscle and skin together, causing the familiar puckering effect.

Exercise can decrease cellulite throughout the body. (Image: kovaciclea/E+/GettyImages)

Because pretty much everyone has some fat beneath the skin and the bands can let some sneak through. Up to 90 percent of adult women some sort of this cottage-cheese fat on their bodies, reports the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. It affects men, too, but in much smaller numbers due to hormones and the way their bands of tissue that connect skin and muscle together are shaped.

Cellulite on the back of your thighs is a common complaint. While exercise will help you reduce body fat and firm up your skin and muscles, it isn't a magical cellulite eraser. Even fit, thin women can have cellulite — but in much smaller amounts than inactive, overweight women.

That doesn't mean you should give up on exercise, however. No existing cellulite therapy, including "magic pills," massage, wraps or creams — even surgery —can make it go away. Exercise can diminishes its appearance and provide you with a load of health benefits in the process.

First, Do Your Cardio

Reducing excess fat on your body helps minimize the appearance of cellulite on the back of your legs. While you may be thinking that leg lifts and hip extensions are the way to reduce cellulite on the back of your legs, spot-targeting exercises aren't really best when you're looking to get rid of excess fat. You need good, old-fashioned, sweat-inducing cardio.

Hit the treadmill, ride your road bike or take a good long hike to burn calories. The more active you are, the better, but aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity work on most days.

Diet counts, too. Complement your cardio with a portion-controlled, whole foods diet. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in water; optimal hydration plumps your skin and helps mitigate the appearance of cellulite.

Firm Up Problem Areas

Spot reduction of fat isn't possible, but you can target certain muscles in your cellulite workout to become tighter and firmer. You can build a firm foundation upon which the top layers of skin sit, so there's less jiggle and dimpling.

Thigh-firming exercises include standard squats, lunges and step-ups. Use your body weight at first, then add dumbbells or barbells for an extra challenge. You want to use a weight that's heavy enough to tire you out in eight to 12 repetitions, without compromising your form.

You may also borrow exercises from ballet and Pilates. These exercise systems target smaller muscles, particularly those at the back and inside of the thighs, to tone areas you might not target with typical weight exercises alone. Leg circles, plies and bridges are examples of leg specific exercises that can improve circulation and decrease the appearance of cellulite over time.

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