Gregg Hoffman is the founder of the Hystrength fitness program. I own Urban Pump fitness studio, and I have 30 years of experience.
Why Do Women Get Cellulite and Not Men?
Cellulite: That dimpled, cottage cheese look that is prominent around the buttocks and on the backs and fronts of thighs. Men do not seem to have it, but just about every woman has it to some degree. Why? Research shows that connective tissue in men and women have different organizational structures at the first layer of subcutaneous fat, leading to less visible adipose tissue on the surface of men's skin. Unfortunately, many experts recommend therapies that, in my opinion, are simply worthless. In this article, I will examine the theories and remedies typically offered, and then I will give the diet and exercise strategy that I have found to ultimately eliminate cellulite.
What Is Cellulite Anyway?
The Mayo Clinic defines cellulite as:
"the appearance of dimpled skin on the thighs, hips, buttocks and abdomen of most women and some men, too. Cellulite is most common in areas of fat deposits and is the result of the unevenness of this fatty tissue beneath the skin surface."
Yet other experts have his to say about cellulite:
"... cellulite is not a fat problem, it's a skin problem. It has nothing to do with what you weigh, or how much weight you lose," says Hollywood dermatologist Howard Murad, MD, author of The Cellulite Solution.
The fat that causes cellulite is not the same as the fat that takes us from a size 10 to a 14, experts say. That fat lies far below the skin, closer to our bones, and it is what the body burns as fuel for energy.
Cellulite, on the other hand, is made up of fat cells that reside within the skin. They can't be burned as fuel, says Murad, so dieting, exercise, even liposuction won't help."
This is confusing, no doubt. Both mention that cellulite is basically fat and that the skin has lost some elasticity which leads to the dimpled effect, and that is true, but they give the impression that cellulite cannot be removed by a good diet and exercise program. Instead, they offer their own remedies that I believe can be misleading, and I will address those later.
First of all, the fat that lies under the skin is simply subcutaneous fat. It is the same fat that can be found around the arms, upper back, legs, and stomach. The doctor quoted above says this kind of fat cannot be used as energy in relation to the visceral fat (I have also written about this type of fat.). This is only half true. Visceral fat is the most active fat, meaning it is drawn into the bloodstream first and fastest for energy, but for longer-term energy needs (such as a chronic daily calorie shortage), the body does call on subcutaneous fat. It is no different than when a man is trying to lose the last bit of fat around his waist. He has to be committed to a diet and exercise regime for a long time to see definition in his midsection. There is no difference between abdominal fat and cellulite.
Secondly, I agree with the above experts that the skin is part of the problem. Women, in general, have thinner skin than men do, and I believe that the estrogen women have tended to break the collagen fibers down. The fat then pushes up against the weakened fibers, creating the cottage cheese look. There is one other plausible explanation I would like to offer:
"As we age . . . the normally elastic septa can become hard and rigid. When they do, they bear down on the buoyant cellulite cells, which begin pushing up through the spaces of the hardened septa pattern.
When the septa run vertically, it results in a 'mattress tufting' effect,'" Katz tells WebMD. "The fat cells push up in between and create those dimples we know as cellulite."
To further expand on this point, the septa run diagonally on men, whereas on women it runs vertically. In any case, it seems the fibers break down, or spread in women which creates the pockets. This is another reason why you do not see much cellulite on men as you do on women.
Good and Bad Remedies for Cellulite
As one can expect, there are many remedies that claim to get rid of cellulite. Now that we are a bit more clear as to the cause of cellulite, let us take a critical look at some of these remedies to see if they can really work.
Creams and Lotions
The logic behind the use of creams and lotions is that these products can melt fat away, stimulate cell circulation, and get rid of toxins. I can tell you this: fat does not "melt away". Fat is simply stored calories. If you have fat around your thighs, you need to lower your calories and move more to start getting rid of the fat there. Remember, visceral fat is used for energy first, so you need to be committed to a good diet and exercise program for quite a while to see fat loss. As for cell stimulation, how can they prove that? And what kind of cells? Fat cells? Skin cells? Muscle cells? The same goes for toxins. Do women accumulate different types of toxins than men? If not, why do toxins cause cellulite in women, but not men? This claim does not make sense. I find these claims dubious. I would not put much faith in lotions doing what these experts say they would do.
According to Web Md, this is how it works: "The procedure is known as endermologie—a deep mechanical massage that combines cylindrical rollers and suction to affect the skin's connective tissue, stimulate blood flow and lymphatic drainage, and trigger what the developers say is the body's natural system for eliminating fat from cells." The author goes on to explain that it does work, but the results are temporary. One would need a monthly maintenance program to keep it under control at a cost of $300.00 to $500.00 a month. I find it hard to believe that simply massaging your muscles will make the fat disappear. There are 3,600 calories to a pound of fat, so massaging it will not get rid of it. The body needs to use it as energy to lose it.
Light devices are supposed to work by "using light energy to melt cellulite while mechanically massaging the skin to increase circulation and encourage drainage of lymph vessels." This is yet another claim that cellulite can be removed without exercise.
There is merit here. Good nutrition will help the skin repair and grow, and proper nutrition can keep your calorie intake in alignment with calorie expenditure. It does not have to be complicated or draconian to work. Good common sense will go a long way. I will give greater detail about how to accomplish this below.
Yes, this is very important indeed. In my opinion, you cannot lose cellulite without it. More on that later.
How to Get Rid of Cellulite
My approach is a simple, two-pronged approach: A good nutrition and exercise program. It has to be a plan you can incorporate into your hectic life. The menu has to be malleable to your specific life and schedule, and the exercise program cannot consume most of your time. But most of all, it has to work. I have created an exercise and eating plan that does just that.
Eating to Reduce Cellulite
Keep your calories under control. Cellulite is fat, that's all. With that in mind, you have to take in fewer calories than you use on a daily basis to tap into the fat stores (in this case, the cellulite).
An Anti-Cellulite Diet
For many people, this is a very confusing topic. There are diet programs that work, but only for a short period of time. They are very hard to stick to, and we can't have that. You must enjoy your foods, and you cannot feel deprived. I cannot give you an exact menu, for you may or may not like what I eat, but I can give you some salient guidelines to put together your own eating plan that fits your needs. Having said that, here are the main considerations:
- Keep your calories under control. Cellulite is fat, that's all. With that in mind, you have to take in fewer calories than you use on a daily basis to tap into the fat stores (in this case, the cellulite). I have been remarkably successful with female clients, advising them to eat between 1,500 to 1,700 calories a day. Fat loss happens. The cellulite becomes less noticeable.
- Eat high-quality protein. This means lean meat, fish, chicken, and I will also include nuts here too.
- Eat plenty of vegetables. This is obvious but often overlooked.
- Keep your carb intake low. This includes not only pastries and sodas but even the types of carbohydrates that are considered healthy. Specifically, I am talking about rice, beans, potatoes, pasta, and bread. All of these carbohydrates will fill up the glycogen stores. To tap into the fat stores, you need to have your glycogen stores depleted. This will turn your body from a sugar burning machine to a fat burning machine. Truthfully, I have found that fat loss happens faster this way, for both my clients and for myself. Do keep in mind that calories still count, but cutting carbs makes it easier for the body to tap the fat stores. As a guideline, if you want to lose a lot of body fat, keep your daily total intake of carbohydrates under 100 grams. 50 grams a day or less would be even better.
- Stay away from heavy sauces. Use lemon, lime, and vinegar (there many varieties to choose from), along with various spices to season your foods.
- Limit your alcohol to 1 to 2 drinks a week. During holidays, you may double that but cut it back as soon as the holidays are over.
That's it. Pretty simple. Very flexible. Create menu ideas using these food choices around your tastes, and enjoy.
The Take-Home Message About Slow- and Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers
Through exercise, slow-twitch fibers cannot change shape, but the fast-twitch fibers do. If you want a more lifted butt, more definition on your arms, or to achieve more of an hourglass shape, you need to train the fast-twitch fibers.
Exercise to Get Rid of Cellulite
Exercise is where I take a different approach than most fitness professionals. The general consensus for the best exercises to remove cellulite are a good aerobic program such as treadmill running or biking, and "butt-lifting" exercises. Movements such as lying hip extensions, kneeling and kicking a leg back, and so forth are common. I will not deny that these exercises work the butt muscles, but they will not tighten up the butt muscles and make them rounder.
Why? Because the exercises are not intense enough. By design, they can never be intense enough. To better explain my recommendations, I need to touch on a couple of physiological concepts (understanding the science of the function of living systems). In particular, I will discuss briefly the difference between the slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers, and the size order of the recruitment principle.
Slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers
There are, throughout our entire body, slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers (fast-twitch fibers are broken down into further subcategories, but for our purposes, we will consider fast-twitch fibers as a whole). Our bicep muscles, for example, have a combination of both slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers. Slow-twitch fibers produce low levels of force and can do that for a very long time. They do not fatigue very easily. They are endurance fibers. Doing long bike rides or jogging long distances primarily works the slow-twitch fibers. One other feature that sets slow-twitch fibers apart from fast-twitch fibers is the size. Slow-twitch fibers are smaller. This is important to keep in mind (more on that below).
The fast-twitch fibers, on the other hand, produce large amounts of force for a short period of time, and then they fatigue. They also take a lot longer to recover between exercise sessions. Strength training, powerlifting, and kettlebell work are examples of exercise programs that work the fast-twitch fibers.
The following statement is the take-home message about slow- and fast-twitch fibers: through exercise, slow-twitch fibers cannot change shape, but the fast-twitch fibers do. In other words, if you want a more lifted butt, more definition on your arms, or to achieve more of an hourglass shape, you need to train the fast-twitch fibers. More on that in a minute, but let me talk about the size order of recruitment first.
Size order of recruitment
The size order of the recruitment principle means that whenever the muscle is called on to create force, it will always recruit the smaller fibers first, and only what it needs to get the job done. Let us go back to the bicep as an example: if you lift something light, such as a glass of water, the body will only call into play the smaller, slow-twitch fibers to do the lift. Since these are endurance fibers, they can recover quickly so you can lift and lower the glass all you want without fatiguing. If you add, let's say, 20 pounds and try to lift it, the slow-twitch fibers cannot produce enough force to do it. The body will have to call on the fast-twitch to assist the slow-twitch fibers in the lift (the slow-twitch do not "turn off" and the fast-twitch "turn on". The slow-twitch are still assisting the fast-twitch fibers). Every time you lift and lower the weight (with good form . . . this is imperative!), you recruit more and more fast-twitch fibers to continue the movement. As the fast-twitch fibers get called on, they, in essence, are stimulated. A demand is placed on them causing them to get stronger and more shapely during the recovery phase between workouts.
So, in my opinion, if you want to see your cellulite minimized, or even completely gone, you need to train your butt muscles hard and be progressive with your weights over time.
Full-Body Workout to Rid of Cellulite on Thighs and Arms
I'll start with the good news. You do not have to do very much exercise to see the cellulite go away. Truth be told, I recommend only three, thirty-minute workouts a week for best results. The bad news? You have to work hard. To get to the fast-twitch fibers, you really have to fatigue the muscle you target. Here is the basic exercise plan:
- Good exercises that target the butt muscles are leg presses, barbell squats, deadlifts, and lunges (both barbell and dumbbell).
- I recommend training the whole body, for the rest of your muscles will need to be toned as well.
- Do one set per body part: legs, upper back, chest, shoulders, arms, and core.
- The repetition speed should be slow and controlled. I found that you do not need to go really slow, nor do you want to go fast either. Do not lock out at the top of the repetition or "fire" out of the bottom. Just nice and smooth tempo throughout the rep.
- Use a rep range of between 8 to 12.
- Start with light weights to get the feel of the exercise and then form down. Doing ten reps to start your training program should feel somewhat easy.
- Every workout, increase either your amount of weight or the number of reps you do. For example, if you did 12 reps with 15 pounds, do 17.5 pounds for 10 reps the following workout. The workout after that, do 12 reps with the same weight, and then increase the weight a little bit on your next workout. Be conservative, but consistent with your progression.
- After a few weeks, it will be difficult to continue to progress. That's O.K. Train hard and take note of what you did. For example, if you did 8 reps with 30 pounds, but could not finish the 9th rep, try as hard as you can to maintain form. If you cannot finish, note what you did.
- Wait at least 48 hours in between workouts.
- Try the same weight again, and see if you can get one more rep than the last time. More often than not, you will be able to do so. The body will get stronger. Eventually, you will get to 12 reps again. Move up the weight a little bit more for the next workout, and start the whole process again.
- Move as quickly as you can between sets, but make sure you can do another hard set before you begin.
- Keep your workouts to thirty minutes or less.
- Do between 8 to 10 total sets.
- Design your workouts to what you like, but make sure you use one of the leg exercises I recommended above.
Keep in mind that your legs will get very strong but your upper body will not keep pace. This is to be expected. The legs and butt are very large muscle groups and can produce a lot of force. In general, your lower body will be about three times as strong as your chest or back. For example, when you can do a 400-pound leg press, you will most likely be doing pull-downs with 70 or 80 pounds.
That's basically it. Do short, hard training sessions, and within 6 months you will see a big difference. Your cellulite will be greatly diminished, or even gone!
Cellulite and Too Much Exercise?
If you see your legs bulk up from strength training and don't like the way they look, I would still encourage you to continue working out. Getting to the fast-twitch fibers is the only way to increase tone and definition and tighten up those cellulite pockets. Aerobic training will never cut it.
You're gaining muscle but not inches
From my experience training women over the years, I have never seen one woman gain inches around their thighs from getting stronger. Many of the women we train do upwards of 500 lbs on the leg press, so they did gain muscle. Just not inches. Several of them did think that their thighs were getting bigger because the legs would feel harder to them, and they started seeing some shapes that they were not used to. I measured their thighs when they brought up these concerns, and many times not only did they not gain inches, but they lost about 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches and it surprises them.
"Bulking up" isn't from lifting too much
Realize this: When people "bulk up" from weight training, it is not the weight training that causes that. It is from taking in excessive calories (they usually take in upwards of 4,000 calories a day!). In essence, they are gaining fat more so than muscle. Keep your carbohydrate intake low so that you both lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. And if it looks like you are bulking up, take the measurements again and see whether it is true or not. I have no doubt that you will see better-defined thighs and less overall cellulite if you stick to this plan.
Anti-Cellulite Results and Transformations
I have noticed from training my female clients that when they got to around 450 to 500 pounds (yes, women can and do get that strong) on leg presses, the cellulite was way down.
I am sure you heard it all before, but when you tried the other programs you were a bit disappointed with your results. I understand that, and even though this program works, it isn't for everybody. All I ask is that you give it your best effort for three months. If you do it right, you will see some cellulite loss. As for proof, here it is. The photo at the top of the page was taken by me of my wife, who does the diet and exercise routine I outlined above, and I have to note that she also does no aerobic training. To drive the point home even more, she is also 53 years old. You can't beat that!
Great Demonstration of Leg Press
Above is an example of the leg press. Personally, I believe it is one of the best exercises to strengthen the butt muscles.
Dumbbell Press on the Ball
Even though you want to lose the cellulite around the hips and buttocks, do not neglect your upper body. Above is a demonstration of a dumbbell press on the ball
Cellulite is the curse of women. Men do not have that issue. It is largely due to how women store body fat and the thinner skin women have compared to men. This does not mean women have to resort to expensive treatments that are dubious and costly. An efficient strength training program, coupled with a low carbohydrate diet will reduce your cellulite dramatically. Give this program a try for at least three months. You will be pleasantly surprised.
To everybody who read this article, thank you very much! Out of all the articles I posted, this one has been read the most by a long shot.
The feedback has been so encouraging, that I decided to take it to the next step. I am actually doing a study whereby I am taking three women who have a lot of cellulite to lose and putting them through a three-month diet and exercise routine. I am going to write a book describing their journey. It will be a follow-along book where the reader can do the same diet and exercise routines as well.
I started the project a month ago, and I am blogging the journey. If you would like to read the blog, just click on my profile. It can lead you to my web page where you will find the blog.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can you really get rid of cellulite at my age 51, or is it to late ?
Answer: It is not too late. My wife is 59 years old and still has very little cellulite. You can see changes with the diet and exercise routine I outlined.
© 2012 Gregg Hoffman
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on March 12, 2019:
Hi. It is possible, but you have to be sure it is muscle that you gain. If you gain fat, it would make the cellulite worse. On that note, it is hard to gain muscle. Even with intense strength training (which I advocate), you do not gain pounds of muscle in a matter of months. It is more like a pound or two, so if you gain, say 5 to 10 pounds in a few months, you are likely adding some fat. The main thing I recommend is to focus on getting stronger, and staying lean at the same time.
fae46 on March 11, 2019:
I am a bit underweight and trying to gradually gain weight. I have well defined muscle, but still have cellulite. Would it be possible to gain weight and still get rid of it?
Thank you :)
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on February 11, 2019:
Thank you so much for finding the article informative and motivating. My wife was very successful with this approach, so I have confidence that you can make great progress as well.
Let me know how it goes!
Lynn on February 09, 2019:
Hi there Gregg!
Thank you so very much for sharing such detailed information for us ladies that battle the cellulite curse. I personally have struggled off and on for years with it and I’m active in the gym but can honestly say I’m not hitting it as hard as I could be most the time. I just had a baby and more cellulite has come during pregnancy that has now left me with the most I have ever have. It has effected my confidence and clearly is unattractive to significant other. My body far from matches my face now. I feel great with clothes on and I feel like a totally different insecure person without. :( This article makes so much sense and gives me lots of hope. Thank you so much!!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on February 07, 2019:
That's great news Nicole! I'm so happy to hear that.
Thank you so much, and may you have continued success!
Nicole on February 06, 2019:
Yes to all of this! This is exactly what I’ve been practicing, both in the gym and with my nutrition, and the results really started showing at 3 months... even better now at 5 months. I’ve always been into fitness but couldn’t get rid of the cellulite and small saddlebags on the sides of my thighs. Weight lifting as you suggested above has made a world of difference! Also eating a low carb diet and constantly fuelling with lean protein and vegetables
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on November 02, 2018:
I don't think you do for starters. Go very low carb. Eat just two meals a day, something like lunch and dinner, and give it a couple of weeks. If you do not see some fat loss, then do cut your overall calories back a bit.
sarina on November 01, 2018:
im 5"5 and 126 lbs Im dlim but have a lot of cellulite. Do I need to lower my calories as well?
donna on September 24, 2018:
Hi there please can you give me a brief thirty minute workout for my inner thigh, bum and arms, i have constantly trained by doing variety of exercise classes but have aged with bad cellulite and realise i need to change tact, i am used to weights so would like intermediate workout, thanks donna
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on July 15, 2018:
There are no supplements that can help tap into fat storage. Keeping insulin levels low is what does. The body has two main ways to store energy: as glycogen in the muscles and liver, or as fat in the fat cells. The body will always use the glycogen first, then as it needs for energy it will start tapping the fat stores. It will not do this very well, if at all when the glycogen stores are full, no matter what supplement you take. Additionally, high insulin levels will drive fat storage...and increased appetite, so to both tap into the fat stores and keep hunger at bay, it is much better to eat a high fat/low carb diet....and it is even better if you practice some intermittent fasting as well. It may take a few days, but the sugar and carb cravings do go away, but it is worth it!.
Sarah on July 15, 2018:
Can you please let us know what supplements that can be taken to help (1) tapping into the fat storage (2) Lower sugar craving?
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on July 10, 2018:
I actually finished the study. I made a book out of the results. You can finds it on Amazon. I can't promote it here but look up my profile on Amazon and you will find it.
Thank you for reading my article..and the compliment!
Amy38 on July 09, 2018:
Hi, have you started the trial with the 3 ladies yet? I couldn't find the article, if you have please can you point me in the right direction. I love your article by the way, very informative. Many thanks :)
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on July 03, 2018:
This is for both TiffDags and Ajec,
Thank you for reading my article.
Ajec. I believe you are on the right track. The diet sounds good, and if you do the spin classes with good intensity you can work the fast twitch fibers, thus helping with tone and definition. My main suggestion is to not over do it. You can over-train and stop seeing progress, so I would not add the extra spin classes.
TiffDags. Thank you for reading my article and applying the basic principles of the program. Do let me know how your progress goes!
TiffDags on July 02, 2018:
I’ve been searching for an article like this...nothing about creams and potions to get rid of cellulite. I’ve been frustrated for nearly 20 years with my thighs (mainly), hips and hamstrings. I was a gymnast and ran track all through school, have a Kinesiology degree, worked for years as a trainer and feel as tho I have watched my diet and exercise routines all my life. I’m 46, married, mom of 4 (20, 18, 17, 13), 5’5”, 126lb, vegan and low carb as well. I’ve not “heavy lifted” since high school but have done the “healthy lifting” 3 sets of 10-12 reps for several years now or I do Beach Body workouts, treadmill and Peleton cycle. I’ve been afraid to lift heavy since my joints hurt a bit (knees & shoulders).
I’ve seen plastic surgeons that tell me I’m too hard on myself, I’ve tried creams, massage, and have given up...now thinking it’s just genetic and poor me.
Now, I’m going to train like this. We have a gym at home, but no leg press. We do have a squat/jump machine, leg ext/curl and tons of bars/dumbbells. This training reminds me a little of Beach Body’s Chilean Extreme.
Thank you and I hope to share results in the next 3-6 months!
AJEC on June 26, 2018:
Hi Gregg, fab article. I’m 32 years old and just had my second child 6months ago, I’m 10lbs away from my goal weight and seem to have platoed. I do intermittent fasting and have been doing the 800cal blood sugar diet which I find easy enough to stick to, and inbetween 50-60g of carbs daily. I do 2 spin classes a week and 3 body pump (weight training) classes, I’ve been thinking to increase another 2spin classes to shred my legs as I’ve 2inches to get off them and reduce cellulite and a vacation in 10 weeks...I do feel it’s do able but can you see any error or am I on the right path??
SS on June 09, 2018:
Hi - I am a 48 yr old women who has maintained the same weight for most of my life (approx. 115lbs) up until last year when I gained between 15-20 pounds. I was eventually diagnosed with thyroid cancer which has been removed and I am now on daily synthroid.
My body however (thighs /but) are looking rough due to the cellulite. I have probably lost almost 10 lbs or so since the surgery approximately 8 months ago (truth be told I don't weigh myself - I go by how my clothes fit)
I'd be a great candidate for your study however it sounds like it has already started. If however you do it again please let me know thank you
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on May 25, 2018:
Thank you for reading my article and getting in touch with me. Here are some insights about your questions.
If you are getting tired and low energy from eating a lower carb diet, it could be from your body struggling to tap into your fat stores for energy. What usually causes this is high insulin levels. High insulin levels drive fat storage, and a lot of times people are insulin insensitive and may net even know it. This makes the body produce even more insulin to try to keep blood sugar under control. Two main things that drive high insulin are frequent eating (the whole eating six small meals a day really is bad advice), and high carbohydrate intake. To counter that, you must eat lower carbs overall, and eat less often. Practice intermittent fasting and skip a meal from time to time, or have an 8 hour window every day to eat, and then eat nothing the rest of the time. Yes, you may feel lethargic for a while, but once your body gets used to it, it will start tapping your fat stores easily for fuel. You will have better, more consistent energy levels once you do that. Honestly, it is a real challenge for Vegans to keep their carbohydrate intake low. All plant foods have higher carbohydrate concentrate than animal foods. It is a real conundrum for Vegans, and I honestly do not have an answer around that. If you do decide to stay vegan, make sure you practice intermittent fasting to allow insulin levels to come down.
As for your exercise piece, even though you see your legs bulk up from strength training, I would still encourage you to do so. Getting to the fast twitch fibers is the only way to increase tone and definition, and tighten up those cellulite pockets. Aerobic training will never cut it. From my experience training women over the years, I have never seen one woman gain inches around their thighs from getting stronger. Many of the women we train do upwards to 500 lbs on the leg press, so they did gain muscle. Just not inches. Several of them did think that their thighs were getting bigger because the legs would feel harder to them, and they started seeing some shape that they were not used to. I would always measure their thighs when they brought up these concerns, and many times not only did they not gain inches, but they lost inches. Usually about 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches, and it surprises them. Realize this: When people "bulk up" from weight training (a very common practice with bodybuilders during the off-season), it is not the weight training that causes that. It is from taking in excessive calories (they usually take in upwards to 4000 calories a day!). In essence, they are gaining fat more so than muscle. That is what creates the bulky look. It is hard to say exactly what happened to you when you noticed the bulky look, but I would recommend that you take actual measurements around your thighs before you start the strength training program, and keep you carb intake low so that you both lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. And if it looks like you are bulking up, take the measurements again and see whether it is true or not. I have no doubt that you would see better defined thighs...and less overall cellulite if you stick to this plan.
kylie on May 23, 2018:
HI , I'm vegan and I'm trying to stick to a lower carb intake but i get tired and have less energy, is there a way around that? i eat more plant fats and don't eat processed food but cellulite is getting worse, I'm not over weight and i do running and i am quite fit, i use to do weight training but found it bulked my legs up too much even though cellulite slightly reduced, i have a mesamorph body type and find weights unfortunately do increase me leg size which isn't what i like.. so I'm in a pickle!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on April 20, 2018:
Hi Melinda. Thank you for reading my article. The main thing that drives fat storage is insulin. Elevated insulin levels encourage fat storage, and that is a real challenge for Vegans. Most, if not all plant foods are carb heavy, even beans. There are three things that elevate insulin levels. 1. Eating. 2 Carbohydrates (all carbs btw). 3. Processed foods. Processed foods drive insulin levels higher than the other two, so it is a good idea to just avoid them altogether. If you can, add more good fats to your diet, such as monounsaturated fats like avocados, avocado oil and olive oil. Saturated fats are good too, ironically, so you can add coconut oil, and if you do eat dairy, make it high fat. High fat yogurt, heavy whipping cream, and high fat cottage cheese are good options. The other thing I would recommend is to add intermittent fasting. Skipping meals, maybe even a 24 hour fast once a moth would really help with fat burning and weight maintenance. You can do these things and still stay vegan. It should help greatly. Let me know how it goes.
Melinda on April 20, 2018:
For a person who is Vegan, such as myself, what do you recommend for replacing the meat?
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on April 05, 2018:
Hi. Thank you for reading my article. Do not give up hope. The body can change at any age, and one does not need to spend a lot of time in the gym. Just make it count.
dragonfly926 on April 04, 2018:
I just want to say thank you for this Article. I have become so discouraged with trying to reduce body fat and getting back into shape . Between turning 50 and working to jobs , i was giving up hope.
Mary on February 22, 2018:
Very informative and inspiring article! Thank you very much! Need to build up my arms and get rid of these dimples. I love walking, lost 15 pounds, down to 130, but it is doing nothing for my arms so I'm headed to the gym tomorrow!! and I owe it all to this article, not kidding. Slow twitch vs. fast twitch fibers...who knew?
Egle Raudel on February 09, 2018:
Thank you! Great article :)
Alicia on December 03, 2017:
Thank you for this posting/publication. I am always researching fitness and specific interest health and fitness postings. I have been fit all of my life. That is not to say I have not had the 5 to 10 lb. weight gain throughout my life, but that has been about it. I know what it takes to get back on track. I will stay fit for the rest of my life and will also continue to enjoy and gain a few pounds over the holidays or during travel, but as long as I know what is required to jump back into routine that is what matters. Everyone is different, so everyone has to do what works for them based on what their goals are. My first goal is to be strong and 2nd fit in body, mind and health. For me, it all works hand in hand. Reading different postings helps me to keep on track or to motivate/encourage me when I am off track. Thanks again!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on October 06, 2017:
Thank you for reading my article and commenting Michelle. I have no doubt that you will see positive changes using the advice from my article. Just remember to train hard after you break yourself in. The intensity of effort is what will bring about the changes. Let me know how you do.
J. Michelle on October 06, 2017:
I appreciate your article, it is both intriguing and insightful. I am somewhat frustrated right now with the yo-yo. I actually wieghed about 146 lbs in 2014. I went through the Weight Watchers program and lost 18.5 lbs, (128) which was considered (my goal weight set by them) but it took 9 months w/absolutely no exercise. I'm sure it would have taken less time w/exercise, I just kept weighing in each week and seems if I did workout I didn't show as losing on those times, so I stopped workouts). Nevertheless I'm back up to 137 now and after weighing myself yesterday I felt awfully sad. I just really want to tremendously change my life as I am 43 now and only 5 feet tall.. so I really wish I could get to my ultimate goal of 120 lbs. Needless to say I am going to incorporate your program in my life today, an I am hoping for awesome life changing results. Thanks for your research conducted.
Dr Abby Campbell from Charlotte, North Carolina on July 13, 2017:
Awesome article, Gregg! Thank you for sharing!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on July 10, 2017:
Thank you for reading my article. I appreciate it!
As to your question. Yes, I do believe Les Mills Body pump can work. Just remember to push those last...but very difficult reps with good form. Moreover, keep your diet low to very low carb so that you can burn the fat m ore easily. I do not think you need more exercise than that. Just make what you do count.
Rachel on July 10, 2017:
I think this is the first article I have read that seems to make good sens and gives me hope. I always had lean toned legs and worked out regularly until I moved countries 5 years where my whole lifestyle and diet changed and I worked alot more. In that time, I gained weight gradually but more significantly, my legs became covered in cellutive to an excessive degree. It felt like it happened overnight, and it has killed my self confidence from someone who always felt comfortable in shorts and dresses to someone who covers everything up and will never be seen at a beach party. Over the years, I have tried to get the exercise routine and momentum back, but just cant seem to get the ball rolling. I started a class called Les Mills Bodypump that I quite enjoy, and first time i have felt motivated, do think this class will help with toning my legs back to former glory, or is much more needed?
Darlenemyers93@yahoo.com on June 21, 2017:
Vie on April 02, 2017:
This is THE most informative ever!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on March 07, 2017:
Hi Sonja and Mary Beth. Thank you both for reading my article. I hope you find the information useful. Here are the answers to both of your question.
You both have a similar question, and that is the effect hormones has on fat loss/gain and muscle. It is true that menopause changes things. Lower estrogen levels change how the body stores fat. After menopause, women will tend to store more fat around the mid section, just like men, and it is the visceral fat that can lead to heart disease. Additionally, fat loss in general is harder for women after that. My wife had to be much more diligent with her diet after menopause, but she still kept the fat off. As a matter of fact, I wrote a book about losing the menopot. I took three post menopausal women through a three month diet and exercise program to see if they could lose the menopot. They all lost inches around the mid section. I can't advertise the book on here for some reason, but check out my web page. I have it there along with a lot of other helpful information.
Mary Beth on March 06, 2017:
I am 53, always been an athlete and been plagued with cellulite most of my life. Due to some auto immune issues the last 2years I haven't been able to exercise as I normally would. Thankfully, I am feeling much better at the moment and have been back in the gym for about a month. I am very familiar with low carb eating and am incorporating that into my daily life again along with weight lifting, yoga and tennis. I am going to try your method of lifting heavier each time. My only concern at my age is being able to maintain that. Atrophy happens so quickly at my age. If I have a flare and can't work out fir 10-14 days there is a noticeable change. Also , menopause causes big changes in skin and muscle. I know so many women my age who are experiencing the same frustrations. It would be great if someone would focus on women 50 and older. We still care how we look!
sonia on March 02, 2017:
I am turning 50 and am a group fitness intstructor so I exercise a lot! My weight has been pretty consistent over the years (give or take 7 lbs) , I was very disappointed today when I went shopping and turned to look at the back of my legs and discover very noticeable cellulite! My mind is stuck on it!I am in shock :(... I enjoyed your article and am going to change my diet a bit and lift heavier , will try to reduce my cardio but I am a cardio queen and love it. Thx for the article , if you have any added advice for the very fit people it would be greatly appreciated. Im certain that my age is a big part of it with the hormonal changes ?!
Sarahjferg on January 20, 2017:
This article is fantastic. I'm what I would call a skinny/moderately toned woman. I work out 4 to 5 times a week for an hour. I lift weights that concentrate on butt and legs. Although I have seen results in cellulite improvement I'm still not satisfied. I'm going to change my routine to how you recommended. I know I can push harder and if I only do one set per body part I don't think I'll get so bored. I'm excited to hit the gym tomorrow with the new routine. Thanks for your insightful inspiration.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on January 18, 2017:
Thank you for reading my article. Leg presses and barbell squats should play a big role in your exercise routine. Remember, you have to take your sets to fatigue to get the fast twitch fibers. Train hard on those two lifts for your legs, and give it time.
Sara on January 18, 2017:
Thank you for your amazing article im 22 female i have a lot of dimples on my butt .. what exercise do u recommend for me ?!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on January 06, 2017:
Thank you so much for reading my article. I can write up workout routines for you. I have an online coaching program that works very well for that.
e-mail me directly for the information. My e-mail address is email@example.com.
Aya on January 06, 2017:
Im so glad i found your article .. im 22 girl who have the worst cellulite on her butt and back thighs im so frustrated . I beg u to help me with my cellulite .. can u give me a detailed workout plane . Im planning to go to a gym soon and we don't have good trainers around here to help me ?!!! Plz
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on October 20, 2016:
Thank you! I really appreciate that. Look for my blog on my website. That is where I keep adding new information.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on October 20, 2016:
I apologize for the late response. I just noticed your question today.
You can do some exercises at home that can help. Lunges, squats, wall squats and even hard sprints can get the job done. You will need some weights though because you will easily grow out of body-weight exercises, especially if you want to work the fast twitch fibers.
Mary on October 20, 2016:
Such a great article, thanks so much! I have added your website to my favourites and will be following with interest.
Sue on September 03, 2016:
Really great article. Thank you
Rj on July 02, 2016:
I was wondering if there were any other exercises other than using weights that could target cellulite. I am a 41 year old woman and I have 3 kids I don't have the time to go to the gym. Is there anything I can do at home for my butt and legs?
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on June 23, 2016:
My apologies for the delay. Thank you so much for reading my article. Here are the answers to your questions:
1. First of all, you simply have to cut out all the fast food. This one thing will sabotage your progress more than anything else. The next thing to focus on is cutting back on your carb intake, and yes, avoid fruits like watermelon. They are just too high in sugars and they will trigger the insulin response thus telling your body to store fat.
2. The exercise routine you are doing can work. It just sounds like you need to up the intensity. Making the muscle work harder is what stimulates the fast twitch fibers to grow that I mention in my article. Take your final sets to absolute fatigue, and increase your weight as soon as you can do the upper end of the rep range you are using.
In all honesty, I am not a fan of the multiple set approach you are using because it is time consuming and tedious. I learned years ago that one focused set works just as well (if not better) than many sets for a body part. Understanding that, why do more sets than you need?
Her is an example of a work out, a la Hystrength style:
Push up hip flexion (core exercise)
Wood chop (functional exercise)
Fifer scissors (core exercise)
Three point row (core/stability exercise)
Push up with hands on ball (core/stability exercise)
All of the exercises except the functional exercises are done to failure/fatigue within 8 to 12 reps. The functional exercises are done with a higher rep protocol with the main purpose to jack up the heart rate and to teach the body to work under load in a functional sense (it does work the fast twitch fibers too).
Admittedly, there is more to this routine than just straight strength training. I believe balance, body awareness, core strength and overall stability are very important so I have these proponents as part of the overall plan. And yes, it has worked wonders on cellulite loss.
I can design online customized workouts. If you would like to know more, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, thank you so much for reading my article.
Sharon on June 21, 2016:
I was overweight most of my life and one fine day started a crash diet and crazy three hour cardio routine 5 times a week!!. While i lost alot of weight i became "skinny fat". Since then my journey has been downhill from trying to reduce the cellulite from my thighs both front n back. I started weight training and cut off cardio . While i saw some muscle definition the cellulite is not going awayyy! My back thigh cellulite dimples are horrible!! My weight routine is typically one day legs (3 sets of four different leg excersies with 8-12 reps for example squats deadlifts, lunges) then one day arm and one day legs again. Three times a week workout. My diet is pretty bad. While i eat less calories i eat alot of unhealthy fast food and lots of carbs. Apart from cutting carbs, should I avoid fruits like watermelon. I tend to have that to avoid me from snacking on chocolates! Do i need to cut out sugar completely?
Also can you explain or give am example of what a typical one day excerise routine would be. Is it like 1 set of 8-12 reps legs, then 1 set of a back excersice, one set chest or do i do 1 set of three different leg excerises and so on? I really want this stubborn cellulite and little loose skin to goooo awayyy :(((((
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on June 15, 2016:
I do not recommend any cardio. If you enjoy doing cardio work, feel free to do so but you do not need to in order to see the changes I write about here.
Chris on June 15, 2016:
How much cardio do you recommend a week while doing your workouts?
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on May 09, 2016:
Thank you for reading my article. Here are the answers to your questions.
1. You are using good exercises for the glutes, except for the kickbacks. The kickbacks are ok, but not one of the better exercises to do because it is very difficult to use weights that are heavy enough to stimulate the fast twitch fibers. Just like Triceps kickbacks, you cannot use very heavy weights and keep good form. You can do without them, but keep the lunges, squats, and leg presses. Do remember, though, that you have to try to increase the intensity of the exercises, not the volume to get the job done.
2. The dent you have on your thigh is not from the tight jeans. That much I know. I would need to see a photo to really know what the dent is, but I'll take a good guess: It might simply be from you losing some fat and you are seeing some definition around there, but if that is the case, you will see a dent at the same place on the other leg too. Or it just may be the way your body is. In any event, it is not anything I would worry about. As for seeing the dimples, that means you still have some fat to lose...and more muscle to gain. Which leads to the final point: Yes, you need patience. It took my wife about two years to really see the cellulite loss. We saw subtle improvements about every two to three months. It was a couple of years later that it was really noticeable.
It sounds like you are on the right track. Just have patience...and keep working the plan.
Michelle Ponan on May 08, 2016:
Thanks for this encouraging article. Really got motivated after seeing the results from your wife. She's amazing.
Ive recently signed up from gym membership as I have noticed a dent on my thigh 2-3months ago and some dimples that started to appear in from of my thighs as well.
I'm 35years old, 64kg, 5'7". For past 1 month I've been doing leg presses, squats, lunges and leg kick backs. My butt got amazing results. It became round and bigger but thigh still same. Still got dent on my right outer thigh and got dimples thigh on back and front of my legs.
I didn't exactly know the cause of my dent as I didn't have accident or injury before and never leaned on any counter or any cornered object. The only thing I can think off is it maybe of the tight jeans I always wear almost everyday. I stopped wearing it for 1 month buy didn't see any improvement.
I wanted to ask if you have had any clients who had same dent on outer thigh as me and reason why the dimple never disappeared nor improved for 1 month? Do I need to wait longer to see improvement? Am I just bring impatient? Please help.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on March 01, 2016:
Thank you for reading my article. I can most certainly help you with food choices, and exercise design if you like.
E-mail me directly so we can communicate. My e-mail address is email@example.com.
Looking forward to talking with you.
Lynn on March 01, 2016:
I am 44 years old with 5 children. My youngest is 9 years old. I am 5'8" and weigh 158lbs. I am an avid runner. However it's the only exercise I do. I feel like there is a stigma that comes with runners. Everyone expects you to have awesome legs. However, that is not the case for me. I am starting to notice the cellulte on the front of my legs. Have you heard the saying " she looks like she has been beat with a bag of quarters.." Thats how I am feeling these days. I would like to take the 3 month challege and incoorperate the strenghing excersise in my weekly work out. I was looking for some food ideas that are low i carbs but dont taste like cardboard. I do struggle with the carbs. I love my bread, pasta and rice. Especatlly the night before a half marathon or other long run. I always say I run becuase I love food. Do you have a food diary you could share? I would really appreaciat any recipe ideas anyone has tried that they enjoy.. KEYWORD: Enjoy!!. If I don't like it then I will never stick to it. I don't want to be skinny if it means being unhappy, miserable and half starved.. Lol.. Thanks in advance.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on September 17, 2015:
I'm afraid that there are no exercises you can do to improve varicose veins. You would need surgery to get rid of them.
natasha on September 16, 2015:
what exercise to do for variscose veins.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on September 03, 2015:
Thank you for the commenting. If you would like some program design and online coaching to tone up your body, check out my profile. There is a link to my online coaching program.
Alejandra on September 02, 2015:
Hi Gregg, thank you for this informayion.
It is very impressive how we can learn about different concepts, routines, diet habits, etc. thenks fir sharing your knowledge in this special way!!
I am 41 years old, my weight is 110 pouns, 5' tall. I did exercise long time ago, cardio and lost fat and muscle (too much) , my look is "skinny fat" orange skin or something like that.. I have cellulite in my thights, butt, arma, belly... I would like to get muscle and tone my body...
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on August 30, 2015:
I do not know if there is anything you can do about that. I suspect the look has more to do with the break down of the collagen fibers that support the skin more so than anything else. My advice would still be the same: Try to get as lean as you can and build your muscle up as much as possible. This will be your best bet to tighten the skin and give you a moire defined look.
Izzy on August 29, 2015:
Is there any help for cellulite on the inside of your arms as we age? I just turned 59 and have done light weights for over 30 years, but now I'm seeing cellulite from my armpit down to the forearm. Might not be much I can do at this age, but I look good for my age except for my arms.
Thanks for any help you can provide.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on July 06, 2015:
This post is for both Sonja and Kim.
First of all, I apologize to Sonja for not answering you sooner. I did not receive a notification that you commented.
To Sonja. I do have a way for you to see the exercise demos. As a matter of fact, I can also write up exercise programs specific to you. If you would like more information, e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim, Here are your answers:
1. I have heard of curves and the hydraulic machines they have. I am not a big fan of hydraulic machines because they load and unload the working muscles too much. You cannot get as deep of an inroad into your muscles with these machines as compared to dumbbells, barbells, and other weight machines. You will be frustrated with your gains if you stayed with Curves.
2. You can do these exercise at home, but you will need a fair amount of weight for your dumbbells. I would recommend a set of adjustable dumbbells that can go from 5 lbs all the way up to 50 lbs. You would also need a sturdy fit ball, exercise bands, and maybe a bench. Otherwise, I would recommend you join a gym with good equipment.
As for your measurements, if you drop about 15 percentage points of body fat, and gain about 2 to 4 pounds of muscle, the dimply effect will drop dramatically. These are numbers to strive for. Do understand that it is a long term commitment. Gaining muscle is harder to do than most people think. For example, I did just finish my cellulite study, and two of the three women gained about 1 to 2 pounds of muscle in three months, and the third one gained more. She gained closer to 6 pounds, but on average, you can figure about 1/2 to one pound of muscle gain a month. That is with hard work, training to fatigue on all sets. Over time, this way of training does build solid muscle that completely changes the look of the body. My wife, for example, developed the look that you see after training for two years. She did see gains every two or three months, but the big changes took much longer. My point is this: train hard,eat right, and have patience...but it is so worth it.
Kim vE on July 05, 2015:
Oh, and I might as we add my personal info: height 5.6, weight 154lbs, really bad 'deep dimpled' cellulite, and 40%body fat! :-(
Kim vE on July 05, 2015:
I have two questions:
1) I'm a member of a gym that specialises in 30min workout-Curves-I'm sure you've heard of it. The machines are hydraulic-could this work with your plan?
2) If I were to cancel my membership could I do your exercises at home without all the serious gym equipment?
Apologies if you've been asked any of this before!
Finestbravest on June 10, 2015:
I really admire you taking the time to answer each and every question. I have read thru all the posts and very eager to start working on my legs at the age of 50. I am 5'2 and weigh 157 and currently losing weight. However, I am a bit shy about going to a gym and asking on how to do these exercises. Quite honestly ... I never worked out in one. My question I pose onto you is this ... Do you have a video demonstrating these exercises? Such as ... the ones you do with weights and the others that don't utilize a machine ... such as lunges and squats?
Sonja - Finestbravest
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on May 18, 2015:
Thank you for reading my article. Here are the answers to your questions.
1. First of all, I would cut your carb intake to under 100 grams a day. I would also recommend you increase your overall calories about 300 a day.
2. I would cut back on the T25 workouts. Maybe to once a week. I don't think the program can work the fast twitch fibers that you want. I would also recommend you increase your strength training workouts to twice a week.
3. Starting weights at home. Hard to say. It depends on how in shape you are now. I need to know the weights you are doing, and the reps, and also what equipment you have. You can E-mail me at email@example.com with that info and I can help you.
4. The exercises can be done with dumbbells and kettle bells. I prefer dumbbells because you can add more variety with them over kettle bells.
I am curious. What is your body fat level? That can tell me how much work you need to do to see the cellulite go down.
Katie on May 15, 2015:
Thank you for your article. I have struggled with cellulite since high school. I am 28 years old, 135 lbs and I am 5'4''. I have bad cellulite even on the front of my thighs. I have been doing the T25 workouts, eating 1200 calories per day, however I was eating 150g of carbs per day. I have also been going to see a personal trainer to lift weights once a week. How heavy do you recommend starting with for at home weights? Also, do I need to get a bar, or could all of these exercises be done with dumbells/kettlebells.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on May 11, 2015:
Thank you for the compliment. Let me clarify what I mean.
1. "One set of squats" will mean one series of ten to 12 reps, or whatever the number of reps one strives for. It is true that most lifters will do 3 sets of squats or leg presses or whatever exercise it is, but I do mean only one set. It is my experience that if you do that one set hard enough, it is all you need. As a matter of fact, most people will rather do 3 sets as compared to one because doing one hard set takes focus, and it burns...it hurts, and most people would rather do three less intense sets than one good, hard set. The problem with that is that intensity will work the deeper fast twitch fibers that we want to get to, not volume. Eventually. you want to take your sets to failure/fatigue after you trained long enough to master good form and focus. This usually takes about 2 to 4 months.
2. I wouldn't worry about your thighs getting bigger. All through my training career, I never seen a woman's thighs get bigger from hard training, even when they do upwards to 500 pounds or more on the leg press. They actually get smaller. They just look bigger at first because there is tone and definition that the trainee may never have had before. For example, I recently finished my cellulite study (I'm about halfway done with the book), and all of the women saw the girth measurements go down while they all gained muscle at the same time. One of the participants thought she was getting bigger and wanted me to use lighter weights with her because her friend told her so. I did a spot measurement on her thighs that day, and it turned out that she had already lost over an inch on each thigh. Mind you, she had lost over 7 pounds of scale weight and gained about 1.5 lbs of muscle, meaning she lost over nine lbs of fat. This was after two months of training with me, and she was looking fantastic!
I would suggest that you take girth measurements along with a body fat measurement before you start and spot check once a month. That way you would know for sure if you are actually getting bigger or if it is just perception. Take a girth measurement at the top of them thigh, just below your glutes so you have a definite spot you can always refer to.
I hope that answers your questions. I wish you success.
Judy on May 10, 2015:
Great article. I really appreciate you sharing your expertise.
The pictures you shared of your wife are so encouraging. I am 52, 5'2" and weigh 130 (have gained 4 lbs, ugh). I do strength training, but do not lift heavily enough. I have a question and a concern I hope you'll address for me.
When you say "sets", does that mean a specific exercise, like a squat? When you say reps, for example 10-12, that means how many squats one should do. So, my question is do I do "squats" for only 10-12 reps, not like 3 "sets" of squats 10-12 reps?
Also, if I lift really heavy, won't my thighs get bigger? I know I've read that women can't get bigger, but my thighs have a mind of their own.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on April 29, 2015:
Thank you for the compliment.
I am sorry to hear about the lack of success with the surgery. It must be very frustrating to go through that and not get the results your wanted...or were told you would get.
As for your questions, yes, heavy lifting is the way to go. Leg presses and barbell squats (with good form) are excellent choices for you to focus on the problem areas. Make sure that you use proper form and keep continuous tension during the entire set, and a rep range that will fatigue the muscles. Be progressive...but not overly aggressive. You can move up too much too soon.
As for your diet, if you do what you say you will do, you will be successful. Calories are important, but keeping carbs limited will signal the body to burn fat instead of storing it. This, I found, is the best thing you can do to see steady fat loss.
Finally, to give you some perspective, with the height and weigh you listed, you will need to lose a fair amount of weight to see your cellulite go down. You need to be around 115 to 130 lbs for the cellulite to be minimal. If you do the training program well, you should gain anywhere from 3 to 7 lbs of muscle too. This will even out the skin.
Needless to say, this will be a process. It will not happen right away, but you should see small steady improvements week to week, and in six months you will have a completely different body.
Melissa on April 29, 2015:
Such a blessing to find your articles. I love love all of the comments, as it gives much insight and perspective. I am seeing over and over again...heavy lifting til exhaustion and leg press leg press leg press. I have had 'extreme' cellulite on my ENTIRE thigh area for all of my 20s and 30s. I will be 40 this year and decided to do liposuction. My outcome is worse and I invested a large amount of savings to have this done. I am now stuck w even worse thighs and it is devastating and depressing. I am 5'5 and 170lbs. I am working on calorie intake staying around 1400 and watching/limiting carbs and sweets. For my situation, same suggestion..heavy lifting and legs presses? I HATE to even have to look at myself in a mirror and it's weighing heavy on my mind from sun up til sun down :( help!?!?
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on April 18, 2015:
Marilava on April 13, 2015:
Thank you very much for a great explanation!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on April 12, 2015:
In answer to your question about substituting leg exercises because of your injured mcl, the only exercise I would stay away from is a leg extension. That would put a shear force on the knee which would over-stress the knee joint. Leg presses, on the other hand can be good for your knees. The knee can handle the compressive force much better...even with an injured mcl. I do recommend two things though: Do a very slow repetition speed, say 4 seconds to lift the weight and four seconds to lower the weight. This will keep momentum out of the lift which would put less stress on your knees. The second thing I recommend is to do a pain free range of motion. Lower the platform only to the point that stays pain free on your knee, then come back up. You should be able to get stronger without further damage to your knee. Moreover, as you get stronger, your knees should feel better in general. I have a client who has a bad mcl from snowboarding, he has had it for several years now. The doctor told him he would need surgery at some point, but since he worked with me it is better (not healed, mind you, but better). He has more muscle supporting the joint and he can still go snowboarding in spite of it. As a matter of fact, he regularly does leg presses with 1,000 pounds as well. Mind you, we progressed in a conservative manner, but we were still able to get him that strong.
In summation, stay away from leg extensions, barbell squats (even though they may be alright, I just think the stable environment of leg presses will minimize bad form), and any form of plyometric exercises. Do leg presses, but use a slow cadence and pain free range of motion.
Marilava on April 10, 2015:
I've loooked back through your comments but can't seem to find the answer I'm searching for. I recently injured my left MCL and generally have bad knees. I would appreciate your advice on alternate exercises with my limitations in mind.
I have a pilates machine and a bowflex at my disposal.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on February 25, 2015:
Ah, Yes. Plantar Fascitiis. I agree with your PT to stop using the orthopedics. You need a proper stretching routine which I am sure your PT did with you, and I am not surprised that it impacted your gait.
It is time to do the leg press. You need the stability and ability to control ROM under load. A leg press should work well.
Try the routine I have outlined here, and stop the body pump classes for a while and see what happens.
Jill on February 25, 2015:
Thank you for your opinion...it confirmed my suspicion! The knee...well, it wasn't an injury. In a nutshell, I had plantar faciitis (sp?), podiatrist "prescribed" orthotics which eventually threw off the muscle balance in my leg. Did physical therapy for a while and it wasn't helping. PT suggested removing the orthotics, so I did, and my foot AND my knee felt much better pretty quickly. This is still weakness from that - it's not all the time, and it is a very small range of motion it happens during (about halfway into the squat and for about an "inch" of motion) but I tend to be protective of it so I don't "lose it" during a squat in Body Pump! I've not tried the Leg Press machine since then, but maybe it's time.... Any other thoughts? Thanks for your answer and thanks in advance for any other thoughts! ;)
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on February 24, 2015:
Thank you for reading my article.
The Body Pump classes are pretty cool, but yes, the big problem is to be able to use the heavier weights that you need. Very hard to do in a class setting. As a reference, if you are doing barbell squats, you should at some point be able to squat at least 115 lbs to fatigue to get the deeper fast twitch fibers I am talking about. I never see women in a body pump class using that much weight. I prefer the leg press simply because one can concentrate on progression without spending a lot of time on form. Squats are a skill movement, and it takes a lot of practice to perfect form enough to use the heavier weights. Having said that, if someone has the patience, squats are an effective exercise. Sharon actually prefers squats to leg presses.
Oh, and yes, I would not recommend heavy squats with a bad knee. Leg presses are clearly better for that.
I would need to know more about your knee to be clear about what to recommend, but for the most part you got the gist of my article. The weights need to be heavier to get the muscle you want so the cottage cheese look will diminish.
Jill on February 24, 2015:
I guess I should add...I'm 52, 5'7", 152 lbs. Just lost 40 lbs and was left with that lovely "cottage cheese covering." I DO live close to Denver and spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer - would love to be able to effectively deal with some of this dimpling!!
Jill on February 24, 2015:
This was a great article...I'm wondering about the lifting. I take a Body Pump class a couple of times per week. If you're familiar with this class, would this "do" as far as the weight lifting, or do specifically prefer the machines (like leg press machine)? I love the class, but I think you addressed the issue...that I need to try to go heavier on the weights. I, along with several others on here, have one bum knee and tend to probably baby it by not putting the amount of weight that would actually be effective. I'm curious about your thoughts about the class though...I tend to work harder with "peer pressure" in a class!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on February 24, 2015:
It's good to hear that you are doing a strength training program. That is what you need to see the results you want to see.
I would recommend, however, that you cut back your running dramatically. Maybe half of what you are doing now. You are not giving your body enough time to recover from your workouts. You cannot develop the fast twitch fibers with that much volume.
I can write up an exercise plan specifically for you. I have an online program that works very well.
I cannot put up the link here, but if you would like more information, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LM on February 23, 2015:
I am 53, run 3-4 days a week (3-7 miles) and do strength training 3 days a week, mainly bar method. I still have pretty bad cellulite/loose skin in the front of my legs especially (and a bit in the back) and would love to get rid of it. I am 5'2" and weigh 105. Could I ask you for a good exercise routine that targets the front of the legs as well as the back? I do have some arthritis in the left hip so I need to be careful but still willing to work hard!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on February 23, 2015:
Thank you for the compliment.
To answer your question, yes, keep your calories under control, do intense weight training and very little cardio. The problem with cardio work is that it makes it very difficult for your body to recover well enough to do hard strength training workouts. It is the strength training that change the shape of your body, not cardio.
As to the macro-nutrient ratios: You can up your fat grams a bit. I would double it. Make them mono and saturated fats and stay away from trans fats (obviously), and poly fats. Use coconut oil and butter when you cook, and eat more avocados and olive oil.
The split routine can work, but I prefer to simply train harder and get more out of my sets, thus needing less training time to achieve the same results. You may want to experiment with that.
Keep up the good work. You are on your way.
vanessa on February 22, 2015:
Great article and comments.
Similar to other females here i have horrible cellulite! Oddly more on the front of my thighs then the back. I lost about 100 lbs a few years ago and have been left with horrible thighs.
I am about 155lbs, 5 '7". I am aware of calorie control and low carbs. I am in the process of managing my carbs/protein/fats. I keep my carbs between 50-70 grms, proteins 130-150 grms, and fats 60-70 grms.
I do a split routine and have been incorporating heavy lifts like squats, leg press and deadlifts. I have been doing this consistantly for about 4 mnths. I am starting to see some very small improvements.
As an attempt to really shed weight i have been doing heavy cycling 2x per week. I see u mention in some places not doing cardio.
I really just want to "fix" my body. Should i just keep my calories in check, weight train and little cardio?
I understand it's a fat issue... this has been really tough finding a solution.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on February 09, 2015:
Thank you for the compliments.
In answer to your questions, yes, you can lose your cellulite. You do, however, have to start a good strength training program like I outlined above. Jogging and biking will not help you lose that cellulite.
As for your low energy levels. I am not surprised to hear that because you are a vegan. Every vegetarian I worked with struggled with fat loss, strength gains and energy levels. I cannot say for sure why, but it is a clear observation I have. You do need more protein, and you need more good fats. This would be saturated fat (believe it or not), and mono fats. Avocados, coconut oil when you cook, and yes, butter are good choices.
You need to cut the carbs as well, for it is the carbs that trigger an insulin response. This brings a whole host of problems, one of which is fat loss. Insulin actually tells the body to store fat and to not use it for energy. Keeping insulin down is truly the challenge for vegetarians. However, if you can keep your carb intake to 100 grams a day or less, you should see the fat loss you need to reduce your cellulite.
In summation, stop the biking and jogging. Start the strength training 3 times a week. Do eat more protein and good fats, and cut down on your carbs as best as you can.
Oh, and give it a few months. It does not happen overnight.
Emily Rose on February 08, 2015:
Also, I did read through all the comments so I tried to take away as much as I could from the advice you gave others. All very helpful!
Emily Rose on February 08, 2015:
Hi, I really enjoyed reading your article as it is very encouraging. Although I am at a decently healthy weight for my height, I am only 29 years old (30 in two months!) and I already have cellulite slowly peaking its way through the front on my thighs. I would like to take control of this issue now if possible. I'm not very active, usually only walking, riding my bike and sometimes jogging for exercise. I have a hard time sticking to a routine mostly because I don't seem to have very much energy, which I just started taking B12 vitamins which I'm hoping will help, which brings me to my sort of question. I am vegan so although I eat a lot of vegetables at most my meals and have also been substituting gluten free alternatives for pasta, bread etc, what would you recommend for me to get more protein? I eat tofu and tempeh, lots of spinach and kale, I also began taking a spirulina vitamin that should help with protein. Do you think I can still find results of losing cellulite? I understand I will have to get into a more physical routine three times a week, which isn't that much, so I'm hoping I can do it. I even have a gym at my apartments I have just been too shy and embarrassed to actually go work out there. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you so much this article has already been a big help!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on January 30, 2015:
First of all, you are not a lost case. From what you describe, I bet you look better than you give yourself credit for.
There are, however, a few suggestions I have based on what you wrote.
1. I can tell that you are not working your fast twitch fibers. The weight you use is too low, and your overall volume is too high. If you truly trained your fast twitch fibers, you could not spend as much time working out as you do. You would need to rest a bit more.
You need to do one, maybe two sets for the legs and increase your weight so that it is very difficult to do between 8 to 12 reps. I prefer you train the whole body on the same day and put the same kind of intensity on all of your sets. Your workout should last no more than 30 minutes...total.
Stop the cardio work. It does you no good, and it takes away from your body recovering fully, and once again, you do not work your fast twitch fibers with cardio training.
For example, you say that you use 50 to 100 lbs for working your legs. If that is what you are using for leg presses, I can tell you that it is too light. Double your weight and do as many reps as you can or up to 12 reps, whichever comes first. If you are able to do 12 reps, then increase your weight 10 lbs the next time and do it again. Whenever you are able to do 12 reps, move up your weight the next workout. This is the intensity you need to get to the fast twitch fibers. A light weight/higher rep protocol without going to fatigue will never get to the fast twitch fibers, and are, in essence, a waste of time.
As for your diet, I have a couple of recommendations there as well.
1. Don't sweat eating so late at night. That does not matter. Do cut out the oats and fruit. These foods encourage fat storage. Quinoa is O.K., but it is a complex carb and it can slow down progress. Maybe have quinoa once a week.
I think these suggestions will help you reach your goals. If you'd like, I can create customized workout routines, just click on my profile and you can find my website from there.
I think you will find these suggestions helpful, and please keep me informed about your progress.
anavioleta on January 30, 2015:
Hi Greg!! Thank you so much for this article!! It brings me hope. I have been exercising for years (since I was 16) and for most of the time lifting weights, targeting lower body because is my biggest part and where I accumulate fat (and yes I am the typical woman that doesn't want to get too big on the upper body). Just recently I am exercising more and harder my back and arms.
I have a very healthy diet now more than before, almost no sweet not even in my coffee bearly any carbs and now I have eliminate milk. I have never count my calories but it can't be that much, basically I have oats in water for breackfast sometimes 1 boiled egg, later a super food organic suplement on water with a fruit, plain quinoa for lunch or sardines or salmon in can, small portions a day. My only sin: I do have dinner late at night because is our "couple time" but usually is a salad with chicken and sometines 1 carb, no sodas, no smoke not alcohol, I just went gluten free so no bread.
I weight between 112 to 114, 5'3 I have the tipical latina body like Shakira petite upper body but big hips and overall I look really good but despite all these years of excersise I have always have cellulite and now that I am 31 is worst and it makes me so mad!!. is like I am tone but with cellulite, pepole see me as fit and would not think I have cellulite but that's why I don't wear shorts at the gym! I think that I was lucky to have my mother's figure but I also inherited the cellulite and she does have a lot though she doesn't exercise.....
I feel having cellulite despite diet and exercise is a curse some women like me will always have but at the same time is actually my number one motivator if not the only, to lift weights, I see my butt in the mirror with cellulite and find it gross so I run to the gym..
so reading your article made me think I just have not been doing it right? I try working 5 days a week and 3 of them is for legs about 1 hour, 3 sets of 10 per exercise (squats, press, lunges and other ) I might do a total of 7 different exercises, and sometimes 10 to 15 mins of cardio (elliptical but mostly stairs).The pounds depends on the excersie and the machine from 50 pounds to 100. The other 2 days in between while I rest legs, I do one day arms, abs, cardio and the other day back abs cardio...Am I just a lost case?
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on October 15, 2014:
Hi all. I am going to respond to two people in this post: Emma and Cathy. Somehow I missed the comment from Emma a few days ago. I just noticed it now. I apologize for missing that.
Emma: It sounds like you are now on the right track. Build your fast twitch fibers, and watch how it will change your look. There is no exercise that can isolate and get rid of your cellulite around the knee. As you lose more fat, the cellulite will dissipate around the knees. As for your diet, it is possible that your diet has made it harder to lose fat. I like the idea that you do not want to get into 'diet thinking", because when people start thinking that way, it becomes all or none. I would recommend, however, that you cut back your carb intake even more, up your protein intake a little bit, and eat more healthy fats like avocados, olive oil for your dressing, and coconut oil for cooking.
Thank you for volunteering for my book. Do you live in or around Denver, Co? That is where I am located.
I am, however, working on an online fitness coaching program, and I may be open to having you work with that for my book.
E-mail me at email@example.com and we can discuss this further.
Cathy on October 14, 2014:
Can I be one of the 2 women? :) Looking for some motivation, and for someone who knows what they're talking about and actually believes their strategy will work. I'm 51 years old, 5'6" and 120 lbs. Always had a problem with cellulite. I love to workout, but lately fail to be consistent enough to make any improvements. I spend a lot of timing reading on different strategies and find myself getting very confused. If you have a program that works, I would love to help you prove it to the rest of the women in the world.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on October 08, 2014:
Thank you. I am going to write a follow along book taking two women who have cellulite and put them on a 3 month diet and exercise routine.
I am starting the project in January.
Eileen from Western Cape , South Africa on October 07, 2014:
Cellulite can be a pain and difficult to get rid of . I love your article - it would be worth following
Emma on October 06, 2014:
One month ago i stumbled upon a picture of your wife on the net, clicked to see where she got her amazing legs from and found your article. I was so impressed with her body that i started weightlifting on the next day!
I am a typical "skinny fat" girl, walking a lot (3-4 hours everyday - just as a way of life) and practicing yoga, with very lean (small) muscles (slow twitch, from what i understand) with a good cover of wobbly fat on legs and belly.
After a month of lifting (without any dietary change) I have results; less visible cellulite, a rounder butt and i feel my muscles growing! But it doesn't look like the fat is melting. In fact, I put on 4kg. I know it's partly muscles weight but i'm not sure i'm in the right direction.
My diet is a healthy, organic, non-processed, balanced one with proteins and a small amount of carbs (whole grains). The reason i didn't change it is because i wanted to avoid the "diet thinking" or calorie counting and rather make it sustainable and long-termed. And since I was always slim, I decided to keep it that way. But now, I'm wondering... Do you think this is what kept me from losing fat?
One body part in particular is worrying me: I have fat knees with a crescent of hard cellulite that takes around the knee joint, and down to the front of the shin.
Is there any way i can tackle this area in particular? Any exercise you recommend?
Thanks for the help and inspiration!
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on September 23, 2014:
Thank you for the compliment.
Squats are a very good exercise to utilize. The key is to have the weight heavy enough that you will be very fatigued by the end of your set. It will be challenging mentally to overcome the fear of heavy training, but it is worth it on so many levels. Use good form and stop the set when you cannot keep good form.
The cellulite on other parts of your body will also decrease as well if you follow the program. Just make sure you do strength training exercises to make the underlying muscles stronger and more toned, along with nailing the diet.
As for making your stomach smaller, there are no exercises that can do that. It is simply a matter of losing overall fat. This is not to say that ab/core exercises are not good. They are, and they should be part of your routine. It's just that what you really need to see your stomach shrink is to lose that fat.
debbie on September 22, 2014:
this is a fantastic article! i cannot afford a leg press machine and because of my knee surgery i cannot do lunges but i can do squats.i do not have a gym membership.how can i make my squats difficult enough to challenge me? i have celluite on my arms,belly and thighs.also,what exercise can i do to make my stomach smaller?
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on September 11, 2014:
Thank you for reading my article. I am confident that if you follow the program, you will see great improvements in your legs.
To answer your questions:
1. Your desk job is not making the cellulite worse. What is happening is that you most likely have been gaining fat and losing muscle slowly so it has been unnoticeable. Now it is catching up. You just need to start the program, and not worry about your desk job.
2. Your legs will get more shapely and defined, but they will not get bulky or unfeminine. Yes, you need to train hard. Yes, you need to get stronger...stronger than you ever been, but your legs will not get bulky. They will develop the shape you want. That's because you do not have the basic muscle mass men do, nor do you have the amount of testosterone men have. In short, your body will not respond like a man's body will.
Do not be afraid of getting stronger. You will greatly appreciate the way your legs will look following this program.
Tzhiting on September 11, 2014:
Hi Mr Hoffman!
Thanks for your article, I'm quite eager to try it out. But I can't help but wonder, will lifestyle affect cellulite as well? I have just started an office job for one and a half year now and my thighs and legs have so much cellulite compared to before. I have never heard anyone telling me "it's not too bad" or anything positive.
I have to say it deeply affects my self esteem as I used to have slim legs...
Right so I have two questions...
Is my desk job affecting and worsening my cellulites?
Will doing those work outs make my thighs muscular and 'unfeminine'?
Appreciate your advice. Thanks!
PS: my whole legs are covered with cellulite.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on August 21, 2014:
What in the world are you talking about? I never heard such a thing.
Gregg Hoffman (author) from 3325 N York Street, Denver, Co 80205 on August 18, 2014:
Thank you for the compliments. I really appreciate it.
Here is what I suspect may be your problem.
Ironically, I believe you are doing too many sets. For you to be able to get through all those sets, you have to lower the intensity of every set you do. This is the only way you can do that much volume. Trainees do this without realizing what they are doing.
You also mentioned you have knee problems. What exactly, if I may?
I would recommend you stop doing squats and lunges, and focus on leg presses. You can do leg curls, but you do not need leg extensions. That will not work the glutes like you need.
The rep range you are using is good. Keep that up, but you need to add more weight. You should be very fatigued by the end of your set.
As soon as you can do 12 reps, increase the weight again. Use a slow cadence. This will make your muscles work harder, and it will keep unneeded stress off your knees.
The calories you take in are about right, so you do not need to make changes there.
Remember, intensity is the key to work the fast twitch fibers (meaning you are working your muscles to fatigue...as much as you can stand it), more-so than volume.
Give this a try. Let me know how it works for you.
Sandra on August 18, 2014:
I stumbled across your site and to be honest, it is one of the most informative site for glutes. I split training and train legs 3 days a week. I have seen someo progress but not enough compared to the leg workouts i do. Im 38, 5'7 with some knee problems so i work carefully.
I do suats first 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps, then lunges, then leg press then leg extension and curl.
Im trying to get by glutes to lifted and and toned, that round effect. NOt happening? my diet with within 1000-1200 calories with very little carbs.
What am i doing wrong????!!!!