Does Cycling Help With Cellulite: The best regimes to improve cellulite


Lots of people look to cycling as a way of losing weight or improving their appearance, and for some of them, cellulite is one of the key areas of their bodies they would like to improve. While cellulite is a very natural part of your body, many people still find it unattractive. As a doctor and cyclist, I thought I would be well placed to take a look into whether or not cycling will be able to help with your cellulite.

Cycling can improve cellulite by toning up the muscles around the affected area and reducing the overall fat percentage in your body, especially when using a high-intensity cycling regime. Muscle gains and fat loss help to reduce the dimpling effect of cellulite and can make it less noticeable.

So, we know that cycling can work for reducing your cellulite, but what even is cellulite, and what are the best ways to improve it?

What is cellulite?

Cellulite is a harmless area of dimpling that occurs on the skin, it most commonly affects the thighs, bum, or stomach area. Cellulite itself is very common, occurring in up to 98% of women.

This striation is caused by the way your connective tissue attaches your skin to your muscles, causing some areas of skin to pucker as the connective tissue pulls on it.

Why do some people get more cellulite than others?

Cellulite is much more common in women than it is in men. This is because women’s fat is typically distributed differently from men’s. Prioritizing certain areas such as the thighs which are common areas for cellulite to occur.

On top of this, women’s skin is typically softer than men’s, meaning it is more prone to the puckering effect that causes cellulite.

Certain factors such as excess weight, inactivity, or pregnancy can make cellulite more noticeable. Genetics as well as your age also play a role in how elastic your skin is, which in turn affects how obvious cellulite will be.

Why is cellulite seen as a bad thing?

Cellulite is not dangerous, we’ve already established almost every woman in the world has it! It is however considered to be “unattractive” by some people.

In reality, something this common should probably be seen as normal by now. However, given cellulite is such a visible condition, it gives the media another way to get people to focus on their appearances.

On top of this, large advertising budgets are involved when it comes to treatments for cellulite, which again will incentivize the media to have a negative view.

What are the treatments for cellulite?

There are a wide variety of treatments that have been designed to treat cellulite. However, there has been minimal research into which are the most effective and how effective they all are. Overall, the studies that have been done show that a combination of different treatments along with exercise is the best method of reducing cellulite.

Some treatments focus on breaking down the fat through the use of steroid creams, collagenase enzymes, lasers, ultrasound, or even surgery. However, the most common method is exercise and weight loss. Building muscle underneath the area of cellulite will allow the fat to be held more tightly against the skin and reduce its appearance.

Can riding a bike get rid of cellulite?

Although exercise alone has been shown to improve cellulite, studies have shown that the best way to improve cellulite is through a combination of physical activity along with other therapeutic methods, for example, dietary changes or infrared wave treatments.

However, cycling can still have an impact on your cellulite and will be a good option for most people. Cycling may well be sufficient for your needs, it just won’t be the most efficient way of getting rid of cellulite.

How does cycling improve cellulite?

Exercise such as riding a bike helps to break down fat and tone the muscles around the area of cellulite, improving the appearance of dimpled skin. Exercise will also help to improve circulation and lymphatic drainage around the area which can reduce the appearance of cellulite.

When cycling to reduce cellulite, you want to focus on two things. Toning up the muscles in the affected area, as well as reducing fat. This will involve combining multiple different riding styles.

Cycling to tone up your muscles

When cycling to tone the muscles in the area, you want to focus on shorter more intense rides, with lots of hills. This will allow the muscles in your thighs to work harder, almost like a weight lifting session at the gym. This is the best and quickest way to tone the muscles in that area.

While long-distance or endurance cycling will still increase your muscle mass in this area and tone everything up, other methods such as sprints or high-intensity cycling are better.

Also, intentionally riding in “harder” gear is not an effective way of improving muscle mass. This will end up putting more stress on your joints and will not be effective. Instead of this try, tackling steeper inclines or plan some strength training at the gym.

Cycling to lose fat

There are two main methods of cycling you can do when looking for fat loss.

The traditional method for fat or weight loss from cycling is long-distance cycling. This involves cycling for very long distances or times at a moderate pace (think of a pace that leaves you a little breathless but where you can still keep a conversation going).

This is good for burning a high amount of calories per session as you are able to maintain the exercise for a long period of time.

However, recently newer exercise regimes that focus on high-intensity training (HIT training) have come into favor. In fact, some studies show that they are more efficient at burning fat than the traditional long-distance cycling methods.

These high-intensity training regimes burn more fat than prolonged low-intensity training. HIT Training involves cycling as hard as you can for a short burst of time (think 20 or 30 seconds), before taking a minute of very slow exercise as a rest period. This cycle is then repeated multiple times.

For an example of a HIT Bike training regime, take a look at this plan from anytime fitness.

I’d suggest mixing both of these methods together, with regular HIT sessions throughout the week with a longer ride at the weekends.

Overall

As you can see, reducing your cellulite through cycling is definitely possible, however, it will involve a clear training regime along with other lifestyle changes.

And even then, some studies have suggested that you will need to do this in combination with other options such as laser treatments to get the most effective reduction in your cellulite.

Mark Holmes

30-year-old doctor with an interest in cycling, bikepacking, and statistics.

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