Today we’re talking about cellulite. This topic addresses two of the most common questions I get from women:
- Can you work out to get rid of cellulite?
- Will building muscle help with this?
That second question is of particular importance to me because there are a couple of ladies in my membership program, who are feeling great about their progress but are disappointed that they still have cellulite. There are a lot of misconceptions and snake oil supplements around this.
I’m going to break our lesson down into two parts:
- What you’re doing or thinking wrong right now;
- The strategy I would use to fix it.
Starting with the biggest misconception about cellulite: you are genetically cursed and cannot get rid of it. For women, cellulite is a very regular thing. Thin, athletic, curvy, whatever your shape size or fitness level, cellulite is perfectly reasonable. As for the “can’t get rid of it” part, you may not be able to get rid of it entirely, but you can eliminate the appearance of it.
So how does this work? Here’s the deal. Your skin or at least the outward appearance of it depends on what’s going on in the outer layer. The main areas you should pay attention to are the epidermis, fat, connective tissue, and muscle. Fat is like jelly; it can change its shape to make the form of other more rigid structures, whereas connective tissue is more rigid, think like a tightly pulled resistance band or guitar string. When you have excess fat, the connective tissue is stretched further apart and gets tighter as a result. When this happens, fat pops up into little pockets between the connective tissue, giving you that kind of dimpled appearance.
A question that usually comes up around this time is “but wait; I’m skinny, why do I have cellulite?” There are few reasons why you may have cellulite. Most of them having to do with the elasticity of your connective tissue. And this can depend on estrogen levels, collagen, genetic factors, a whole bunch of things.
Luckily, the system I use for dealing with cellulite is pretty much the same regardless of your body type or how much body fat you have. So how are we going to fix this? I follow a three-part system.
- Overall fat loss;
- Targeted muscle building;
- Stubborn fat loss.
The logic behind this is that by reducing overall fat, we’re going to alleviate some of the destruction of the connective tissue. Less stretch in the connective tissue equals less bulging or dimpling appearance from the other side. By building muscle in these trouble areas, we’re reducing the distance between the connective tissue and the outermost layer of your skin or the epidermis. So, again, by lowering the amount of stretch in the connective tissue, you’re going to have less dimply or bulging of the fat underneath. And finally, by losing stubborn fat, we’re again going to alleviate stretching of the connective tissue that is the common thing here.
Now, I know this sounds similar to that first step. The thing is when women lose weight, they don’t lose it uniformly; it usually comes up overall, then they lose fat from their upper body, and then the lower body fat is the last to go. By using the techniques, I’m about to share with you can accelerate the process of losing a stubborn lower body fat that’s causing your skin to dimple. I’m going to skip over those first two steps for today because there’s nothing earth-shatteringly new going on there. Now, so the good stuff.
Targeting Stubborn Fat
To burn fat, you need to mobilize fatty acids. Fatty acids are locked inside the fat cells. To unlock those fat cells, we need our fight-or-flight hormones: adrenaline and noradrenaline. Sticking to the sting of unlocking, there are two types of locks that may be in your fat cells: alpha and beta. The proper scientific term for this kind of lock is a receptor. And every fat cell in your body has some combination of these two categories of receptors in it. Important to understand is that beta receptors are much more responsive to fight-or-flight hormones. That means that these beta receptors are easier to unlock and require a lower stimulus to do so. Here’s where stubborn fat comes in. Stubborn fat is stubborn because your body has labeled it that way. Your body just puts more of the unresponsive tougher to unlock alpha receptors on these fat cells. So it’s not that you can’t burn this fat, you just require a greater stimulus of the fight-or-flight hormones to do so.
And what provides a greater stimulus of fight-or-flight hormones? High-intensity training. So, the work that I’m about to show you is focused on elevating your heart rate, challenging your anaerobic threshold (aka where you start to cramp up and feel like you’re going to die), and it targets that area between your butt and your thigh that I see so many women struggling.