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6 Exercises That'll Make Your Cellulite (Almost) Disappear

Ditch your sarong and capri pants; with these moves you won't need them at all
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Dimples that aren't cute
For some reason, cellulite has unfortunate food-related names -- cottage cheese skin and orange peel syndrome -- but the skin condition isn't purely a result of diet or overeating. Some 80 to 90 percent of women are afflicted by the ripples, which are linked to genetics, not your size. Even supermodels and athletes can show inconsistencies in their skin, since it's not a matter of weight but merely the way in which your fat pockets tend to push against connective tissue. However, the more body fat you have, the more likely you are to see increased puckering because of the larger pockets.

So how do you deal with your bumpy areas? You could blame your mother, but that probably won't accomplish much. You could extreme diet, but then you're left with flabby skin and the potential for more pronounced cellulite, due to uneven fat distribution. You could also slather on the self-tanner to make your skin look smoother. But really, your best option is exercise.

Exercise isn't the cure-all, but toning and sculpting to create a leaner muscle line can help minimize the appearance of your problem areas. Liz Barnet, Fitness and Nutrition Coach, explains, "to reduce cellulite overall, you need to reduce fat overall. The winning combination to reduce total body fat is total body resistance training, plus a combination of high-intensity cardio intervals and low-level activity."

We've included a diverse range of exercises that'll give you a leaner muscle line, tighten your skin, and change your fat into muscle. Cellulite doesn't have a cure (yet), but these will help you look more toned overall.

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Barnet recommends strength training to increase muscle mass, which will take up less space than fat and help your skin appear more taut. Plus, any sort of strength training helps increase your baseline metabolism. Here's one of her total body strength moves you can try at the gym or at home:

Squat Plus Curl and Press
1. Select medium to heavy weights, between 5 and 10 pounds for most women, and let your arms hang by your sides holding the weights.
2. Descend into a squat, like you're sitting in a chair.
3. As you stand up, bicep curl the weights up to your shoulders with your palms facing up. 4. Turn the palms forward as you straighten your arms and press the weights directly overhead.
5. Return back to start by reversing the arm motion and repeat.

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Another great way to tone your body without using weights is yoga. Barnet says that the standard vinyasa flow with some lunge variations is a great way strengthen your muscles, increase your circulation, and enhance flexibility. Try her sequence at home:

1. Mountain pose to arms overhead: Stand with feet together and arms at your sides. As you inhale, stand tall while pulling in your abs and reaching arms overhead.
2. Forward fold to floor: Exhale as you fold at hips, reaching fingers to the floor or your shins. Try to keep legs straight, abs tightly engaged, and hips over heels.
3. Flat back: Inhale as you hinge at the hips, lifting your torso up halfway so your back is parallel to the floor, with your fingertips still reaching to the ground and your gaze shifted ahead.
4. Fold to plank: As you exhale, fold again and place hands on floor. Bend your knees if necessary. On the same exhale, step or jump your feet back to a plank position. Then bend your elbows to lower your body halfway down to the ground. Draw your abs in tight and keep your elbows close to your body and pointed directly back. If this is too difficult, try the position with your knees resting on the ground.
5. Up dog: As you inhale, slide your body forward so your chest is reaching up and your arms are supporting your weight while your legs are still parallel to the ground, your thighs are lifted, and you're balancing on the tops of your feet. Modification: leave your legs and hips on the ground and lift your chest only a little.
6. Down dog: Exhale as you go back onto the balls of your feet, press your hips high into an inverted V and press the chest between the arms. Try to keep your arms straight and your heels towards the ground.

From there, you can either repeat the vinyasa by stepping your feet back to a standing forward bend and rolling up, or you can insert one of these lunge variations in between your next vinyasa:
A. Crescent lunge: From standing, step your left foot back into a lunge. Keep right foot flat and facing forward, and bend your right knee to a 90 degree angle. Lift your left back heel as you press your weight into the ball of the foot and try to straighten your left leg. Keep hips squared forward. Extend arms overhead and breathe 8 deep breaths. After you complete another vinyasa sequence, do the lunge with your right foot back.
B. Warrior 1: From standing, step your left foot back into a lunge, with your right foot flat and forward, and your left foot turned out to a 45 degree angle. Leave both feet flat on the floor and lift your arms overhead. Work to keep your hips and shoulders square, and your back leg straight with your front leg bent at a 90-degree angle. After finishing another vinyasa in between, try the other side.
C. Warrior 2: Repeat the foot set up for Warrior 1, but turn your hips and torso open to the side. When your left foot is back, your torso should turn to the left wall, and vice versa. Reach your arms straight out parallel to the ground, so one is reaching to the front of the room and one to the back. Turn your head to face your front arm.

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Erin Romney, owner/instructor of Romney Pilates and Romney at the Ritz, says strength training the overall body is a great way to reduce cellulite, but you should also pay particular attention to the areas you're looking to firm up. Try her Pilates sequences that target your back side and thighs:

Pilates Bridge
Lay on your back with your feet hip width apart on the ground, your knees bent, and your arms at your side. Slowly start to bridge your spine upward starting with the tailbone. Lift your hips off the ground until you're resting in between your shoulder blades. Make sure you draw the belly in to maintain your alignment and protect the low back. Once hips are lifted, add some pulses at the top by squeezing your glutes up an inch and then down an inch. Pulse for 30 seconds and then slowly bridge down. Repeat until you're exhausted, about 5 to 7 times.

Side Kick Series
Lay on your side with straight legs at a 45 degree angle in front of your body, resting your head in your hand with your elbow on the ground. Your other arm can either rest on your hip, or rest in front of you for extra support. Lift your top leg straight out to hip height and glide it forward and backward, keeping the leg at the same height the entire time. Don't allow your pelvis to rock forward and back, instead keep your hips in alignment while doing the movement.

Side Kick Variation
Lying on your side, take the legs at a 90-degree angle in front of the body. Support your head again like in the side kick series. Lift your top leg and alternate tapping the toe in front of the lower leg and tapping the heel behind the lower leg, so that you're drawing an arch with your foot. Repeat for 30 seconds, then isolate the taps: Repeat just the front toe taps 10 counts, and then repeat the heel taps behind for 10 counts. Repeat the entire sequence until fatigue, about 3 to 5 times, and then switch sides.

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Get Intense and Lay Low
High intensity cardio intervals are great for blasting calories and fat, says Barnet. Plus, they help increase your overall metabolism. Look out for high intensity or total body workout classes, such as spinning, kick-boxing, or dance-based cardio, or try out an interval workout on the treadmill.

In addition to your short bursts of high-intensity workouts, it's also a good idea to incorporate low-level activities such as walking, riding your bike through the park, light swimming, or even restorative yoga as much as you can during the week. Low-level activities help burn calories slowly all day, specifically drawing on fat sources, says Barnet.

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