Books, Fitness & Health

Causes of cellulite in women and what you can do about it

The causes of cellulite in women are often misunderstood. Million-selling author and fitness expert Frédéric Delavier dispels the myths and offers advice.

Many women believe that cellulite affects only those who are overweight or out of shape. However, according to Delavier, author of Delavier’s Women’s Strength Training Anatomy Workouts, cellulite affects two out of three women, including those who are very thin.

What is cellulite?

“Cellulite is a typically feminine phenomenon where subcutaneous fat accumulates in certain areas, primarily the lower part of the body,” Delavier explains. “It is made up of a mixture of water, waste and toxins in the skin tissue and fatty tissue in certain cells.”

The two types of cellulite

According to Delavier, there are two types of cellulite. The first kind is characterised by a lack of elasticity in the skin. “When you pinch your skin between two fingers, it is puffy and looks like the skin of an orange,” He explains. “It’s rough and sometimes wrinkled and the skin is dehydrated and a little warm.”

The second kind of cellulite causes skin tissue to be spongey and flabby. The cellulite looks different depending on whether you are standing (it diminishes) or lying down (it spreads). “This kind of cellulite mostly occurs in women over 35 years of age,” says Delavier. “It can appear after losing a substantial amount of weight, from losing weight too quickly and from taking too many diuretic supplements.”

The four causes of cellulite

Delavier believes there are four main causes of cellulite in women.

1. Water retention

Water retention occurs when water carrying waste and residue accumulates and stagnates in porous pockets under the skin. It happens during periods of stress or before menstruation and then goes away after a few days without any special treatment, except when following a strict diet of no sugar and little salt. Cellulite occurs when this water becomes gelatinous, hardens and creates pressure under the skin. “Only through an intense localised treatment of the fatty mass will you be able to dislodge this orange-peel texture, which will tend to become more difficult over time,” Delavier explains.

2. Hormonal changes

The appearance and development of cellulite is linked to important hormonal stages in women’s lives, such as puberty and pregnancy. Menopause is characterised by the ovaries’ ceasing to function and produce hormones. “At this stage of life, even though your body tends to activate fat cells less often, this does not mean you will not accumulate cellulite,” says Delavier.

3. Stress

Cellulite can occur during a period of intense prolonged stress and be linked to gynaecological, circulatory and digestive problems. These can seriously aggravate cellulite. “The liver plays an essential role in digesting food and if digestion is not occurring properly, then liver function slows down,” says Delavier. “Fat and sugar will be stored and your body will retain toxins that will considerably alter your skin tissue.”

4. Hereditary

Hereditary factors play an important part in the development of cellulite, just as it is for obesity. Women who have varicose veins and circulation problems often pass them on to their daughters. “By eating a diet without sugar and by working your legs, you can break the hereditary chain,” Delavier says.

What you can do about it

The best way to combat cellulite is with intense exercise. “With targeted and in-depth regular exercise, you can confine cellulite and stop it from expanding,” Delavier says. “You will want to use long sets and short recovery time to burn fat.”

Since cellulite is primarily located in the lower part of the body, exercises should be focused on that area. He suggests flexion movements including forward lunges that will help activate blood circulation and will work the thigh muscles and the knees. Running and stair machines are also ideal for working the buttocks and thighs.

Delavier adds that anti-cellulite creams, plastic surgery and massage are also common methods of treating cellulite, but they aren’t sustainable solutions.

Delavier’s Women’s Strength Training Anatomy Workouts is available to buy now from

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