Why Do I Still Have Cellulite if I Exercise?

Your skin consists of multi-layered tissue that has connective cords which act much like a net to keep your skin, fat and muscle tethered together. When the fat pushes against the net of connective tissue, cellulite is the result. Cellulite is a common occurrence that most frequently appears on the thighs, breasts, lower abdomen and arms. While cellulite is most often associated with being overweight, even very thin people and those who exercise frequently can experience cellulite 1.

Risk Factors

Women are more likely to experience cellulite than men, and an estimated 80 percent of women have cellulite. This is because women tend to carry more weight in the areas where cellulite is most common. Also, the structure of a woman’s connective tissue is different than a man’s, and men’s is better equipped to hold fat in than women’s. Genetics also plays a big factor--if your family members experience cellulite, it’s likely you will too. An inactive lifestyle is associated with cellulite, but you can still have cellulite if you exercise. As you age and elastic fibers start to become less stretchy, you also may be more likely to experience cellulite. Other risk factors include stress and use of hormonal contraceptives.

Exercise as a Solution

If you experience cellulite and exercise, it’s important to look at what types of exercise you are performing 1. The American Council on Exercise recommends performing cardiovascular exercise most days of the week coupled with two to three resistance-training workouts 1. If you currently only perform the cardiovascular side of this prescription, it’s time to add strength training. This is because muscle also lies underneath the skin. Replacing fat with muscle can help your body appear more toned, reducing cellulite. Try exercises that target problem areas, like squats, lunges, abdominal crunches and biceps curls. Although you can't spot-train to reduce fat, the development of targeted muscles will result in smoother-looking skin.


While exercise is not a cure-all for your cellulite, this is no reason to give up on exercise entirely 1. Remember that it helps you maintain a healthy weight and keep fat off. Because added fat is a contributing factor to cellulite, refraining from exercise could potentially cause more cellulite. While there’s no clear way to prevent cellulite, exercising and eating right are your best bets to keep cellulite from becoming more pronounced.


If exercise is not helping you deal with your cellulite, you may turn to methods like laser treatments or silicone injections. There is one treatment you should never use, however, to reduce the appearance of cellulite: liposuction. While liposuction may remove the fat from your body, it doesn’t change the appearance of your connective tissue, making it an expensive and ineffective remedy for cellulite.