8 Simple Exercises to Help Reduce Cellulite

8 Simple Exercises to Help Reduce Cellulite

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Cellulite affects a large number of people, particularly women. In fact, about 85% of women over the age of 20 experience cellulite. This common skin condition creates a dimpled, lumpy appearance, usually on the thighs, hips, buttocks, and belly. Although cellulite is challenging to eliminate completely, certain exercises can help reduce its appearance. This article will guide you through eight effective exercises that focus on leg strengthening to help improve the look of cellulite areas.

Despite extensive research, long-term treatments have yet to prove entirely effective in removing cellulite. However, regular exercise remains a recommended approach. Not only can it help reduce the appearance of cellulite, but it also benefits overall health and body composition.

Understanding Cellulite: Causes and Symptoms

Understanding what causes cellulite and recognizing its symptoms can help you tackle it more effectively:

Causes of Cellulite

  • Hormonal Factors: Certain hormones, such as estrogen, play a significant role in the development of cellulite.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Your genetic makeup can influence your skin’s structure and fat distribution, which affects cellulite formation.
  • Lifestyle Choices: A diet high in fats and carbohydrates, combined with low physical activity, can increase the likelihood of developing cellulite.
  • Tight Clothing: Clothes that constrict blood flow might contribute to the formation of cellulite.
  • Aging: As you get older, your skin becomes thinner and less elastic, making cellulite more noticeable.

Symptoms of Cellulite

The most distinctive symptom of cellulite is its appearance. The skin becomes uneven with lumpy and dimpled areas, which are often described as having a cottage cheese-like texture.

Cellulite may not always be visibly apparent. For some, it’s noticeable at all times, but for others, it only becomes evident when the skin is pinched or compressed.

The visibility of cellulite can vary based on its severity,

  • Stage 0: No dimpling, even when the skin is pinched.
  • Stage 1: Dimpling appears only when the skin is pinched.
  • Stage 2: Dimpling is visible when standing but disappears when lying down.
  • Stage 3: Dimpling is evident both when standing and lying down.

Effective Exercises for Cellulite Reduction

Integrating specific leg strengthening exercises into your routine can help minimize the appearance of cellulite by firming up the muscles underneath:

1. Clamshells

Cellulite exercise called Clamshell
Clamshell step 2
  • Start by paying on your side with both knees bent.
  • Keep your feet in contact with each other, and then rotate your top leg up. 
  • Make sure you keep your spine in alignment and your hips don’t rock back! Rule of thumb is to do a smaller range of motion if you think your back is moving.
  • Rotate your top leg back down to the starting position.
  • Do this 10 times for one set, and complete 3 sets.

2. Standing Hip Lifts

standing hip lifts step 1
standing hip lifts step 2
  • Stand tall with one hand placed on a bed or chair. Balance on your left leg, keeping a soft bend in your knee to keep from locking out.
  • Leading with your heel, lift your right leg out to the side. Be sure not to lean to the left. 
  • Repeat 10 times per leg.
  • Complete 3 sets of the exercise.

3. Standing Hip Extension

Standing hip extension step 1
Standing Hip Extension step 2
  • Stand tall with your hands placed on a steady surface. You can use a counter, sink, or chair (no chairs with wheels) to hold on to for balance. 
  • Shift your weight onto your left leg, keeping a soft bend in your left knee to keep it from locking out.
  • Then, keeping your toes pointed forward and your right leg straight, lift your right leg back a few inches, then lower back down.
  • Repeat 10 times per leg for 3 sets.

4. Bridges

Engaging core and hips with the bridges exercise, supporting hip health and muscle strengthening.
Bridges 2
  • Lie on your bed or floor (a bed is better if you have difficulty getting on the floor). Again, ensure your knees are bent at about 90 degrees and your feet are flat on the floor. 
  • Lift your hips off the ground, using your hands to help push your hips up if needed.
  • Slowly lower your hips to the bed or floor and repeat 10 repetitions for 3 sets.

5. Squats

Coach Todd demonstrating Squats, a holistic exercise that helps strengthen the quadriceps.
Squats step 2
  • Position the feet about hip-width apart for a proper squat, with the toes pointing forward.
  • Slowly sit the hips back towards the heels as the knees bend. Your torso should hinge forward to counterbalance your hips, sitting back towards the heels.
  • Bend the knees as far as you’re comfortable, hold for 2 seconds, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.

6. Step-ups

Coach Todd performing Step ups
Step up step 2
  • Place the foot flat on the step using a single step about 4-6 inches high (if you don’t have a step, you can use a firm book as a substitute of equal height). Ensure the opposite leg is flat on the floor but close to the step.
  • Ensure the knee and thigh are pointing straight forward. If you have handrails or can position the item you’re using next to your countertop for support, this can be helpful to hold on to.
  • When ready, straighten the knee and squeeze the glutes to step all the way up on the step, then lower back down. You should end up in the same position you started in.
  • Try to go up with a little more of a quick speed, but slow and controlled on the way back down.
  • Repeat 10x for 2-3 sets.

7. Lunges

Coach Todd executing Lunges
Lunge step 2
  • First, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Step forward with one leg, dropping your back knee towards the floor as you bend both legs.
  • Make sure to keep your front knee in line with your ankle and your weight on your heel.
  • Make sure to keep your core and glutes tight.
  • Push off your front heel to return to the starting position.

Additional Tips for Reducing Cellulite

While exercise is beneficial, combining it with other healthy habits can enhance your results:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and smooth.
  • Eat Healthily: To reduce fat accumulation, focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber.
  • Regular Massages: Massaging cellulite-prone areas can boost blood flow and decrease fluid retention.
  • Moisturize: Keeping your skin moisturized will improve its appearance and elasticity.


While there is no guaranteed way to completely eliminate cellulite, incorporating these exercises into your fitness routine can help reduce its appearance. Remember, the effectiveness of exercise for cellulite reduction can vary, but the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle extend far beyond aesthetic improvements. 

Regular exercise can improve both your physical and mental health, boosting your confidence and overall well-being. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you’re concerned about potential injuries.

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