Tuesday Tip: The Spot Reduction Myth 🔍
A common thing I hear from people is that they want to lose fat from one particular area, usually stomach, thighs, butt or arms. Often they’re trying to achieve this by focusing on that area; so if it’s belly fat – lots of ab exercises, thighs – squats, lunges, hip abductor machines etc, arms – loads of bicep and tricep work etc.
There’s just one problem: it’s impossible to target fat loss! Spot reduction (i.e. losing fat from specific areas) is a myth. You can’t magically lose fat from a specific body part just by doing exercises on that area. Our bodies can only lose fat from the entire body as a whole and where it comes off first is down to genetics and can’t be changed. Some people lose fat first from their thighs, others from their belly etc. No workout or exercise, or magic slimming drink can change this.
What does happen is that the muscles underneath get worked and get stronger, so when you do lose fat from that area you will look muscular/toned/ shapely etc. So ab exercises will target your abdominal muscles, but not the fat that sits above them. Studies in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning research” and “Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport” confirm this. They had participants doing ab exercises and found no effect on abdominal fat. Another study on professional tennis players looked at the impact on fat of the extra use of one arm and found no difference between the playing and non-playing arm.
So if you can’t spot reduce fat what do you do? You lose fat from your whole body! At some point the fat will also come off from the body part you wanted to lose fat from in the first place. Sadly you can’t influence when that happens. How do you lose body fat? By eating fewer calories or burning more calories (or a combo of the two) – all you need is a calorie deficit and you will lose fat. So you can stop those hundreds of sit-ups and focus on the food side of the equation instead!
Happy Tuesday 🤗