Why Spot Reduction is a Myth

Most newbie clients come to me wanting to spot reduce. They would say, “I want to get rid of this!” while pointing to a specific area of fat on their body. My response: If only we can! I would be a rich woman......

Spot reduction is a claim that if you target a certain area of your body when working out, then that specific area will reduce in body fat. For instance, doing a bunch of crunches will eliminate the fat from your abs. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

There have been many studies done on this subject, showing that resistance training on one specific area actually ends up giving off a generalized fat loss all over your body. In a recent study done by University of Connecticut, participants completed a 12-week resistance training program where their non-dominant arm was exercised - but not the other. They measured their subcutaneous body fat before and after the program and results showed that only overall fat loss occurred, and none specifically in the arm!

The reason? The fat in the fat cells are known as triglycerides and our muscle cells cannot use these triglycerides as fuel. Therefore, the fat must be broken down into fatty acids that enters the bloodstream. This means that the fat broken down can come from anywhere in the body, not just the area you exercised!

So then, you ask...why do we target specific areas when using weights? Why bother doing bicep curls or squats, if fat loss can be from anywhere?

The reason is that even though we can't lose fat from a specific place, we CAN build muscle there! There is no such thing as “being toned” - it is actually just having your muscle pop out after building them! So we need to do some resistance training to build muscle so it can show that defined look you want.

Of course, you still have to have a good diet to get the look you want. However, not everything is about caloric restriction- you want to make sure your metabolism is at a good place before you start cutting calories for fat loss. Otherwise, you can't sustain it for the rest of your life!

Need help with fat loss and muscle gain? Talk to Helen and she can help you get on the right track!