Spot reduction: you’ve been lied to

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As a Personal Trainer, at least once a day I have somebody ask me what exercises will flatten his or her belly. So many people have fallen victim to the myths of  Spot Reduction they forget the importance of nutrition and overall health! Even if you don’t know what Spot Reduction is, you’ve seen people do it and possibly have attempted this yourself. Basically, it is when one attempts to target a specific body part in which they want to lose fat. The most common example is doing crunches to lose that belly. Back in 2006, I was proudly doing 100+ crunches a day, with no incredible six pack to show for it. I too had fallen victim to the myths of spot reduction. A lot of us did! Remember the Thighmaster? I rest my case. Anyways, my answer to these people is: All of them and none of them. All of them. How do you figure? Well ANYTHING (done correctly) will always be better than NOTHING. At least you’ll burn a few calories which is certainly better than burning zero. None of them. Well, because, you can do crunches and use the Thighmaster till the cows come home but unless you pay attention to your diet you won’t see that awesome six pack.This is where I failed back in ’06. The most important thing to do when trying to lose your belly is to reduce overall body fat. Think of your body as a punch bowl (as opposed to a Jello mold) and your body fat as the punch in the bowl. If you scoop out a cup of punch, there isn’t a hole in the bowl of punch, it just levels off.  Your body fat works in somewhat the same way. When you burn fat, it gets burned all over, leveling off. There are a few reasons why spot reduction does not work: Fat is mainly stored in your body in the form of Triglycerides. As such, they cannot be used as fuel directly; they must be broke downn first. Basically, this means that the triglycerides used during a workout, even a targeted workout, can come from anywhere. Secondly, resistance training (body weight still counts!) does not directly burn that many calories. It is still incredibly effective in weight loss because it builds muscle and muscle is metabolic. This means that merely having more muscle helps you burn more calories. To lose those love handles, try HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training where you alternate short periods of intense exercise followed by a short, less intense recovery period.  The rest/recovery periods will be contingent upon your fitness level but here are two basic examples:

Sprint: 30 seconds Jog: 20 seconds Repeat 6 times for a 5 minute workout
Jumping Jacks: 45 seconds March in place: 15 seconds Repeat 5 times for a 5 minute workout

I’m not saying you need to skip crunches or ab training altogether, but rather pair them with a better diet and a more comprehensive workout program and you’ll be way more likely to see your 6 pack.  
 

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