You certainly can’t be blamed for wishing that there was some kind of shortcut or magic technique that could help you get rid of stubborn belly fat or thigh fat, without losing the meat on your glutes or boobs. In this scenario, targeted weight loss or spot reduction seems like a great idea, which is precisely why so many of us buy into it. While we’d love to believe it too, we simply can’t.
The Theory Of Spot Reduction
“Spot reduction is based on the premise that working out on a specific set of muscles can help you get rid of fat deposits in that area”
As we all know, subcutaneous fat deposits form when we consume food that gives us more calories than we require. This process is reversed with exercise, when you burn more calories than you consume. As any physical activity uses energy, any exercise can help you lose weight. According to proponents of spot reduction, this weight loss can be targeted.
This is based on the premise that working out on a specific set of muscles can help you get rid of fat deposits in that area. Hence, ab exercises like crunches are most frequently pushed as a solution to stubborn belly fat. Such exercises strain the ab muscles, helping strengthen them, while also burning calories. But how effective are they for belly fat?
What Spot Reduction Exercises Really Do
“Spot reduction exercises will help burn fat, but not just around the targeted muscles – so, while you will lose some stubborn fat, you can expect to lose proportionate amounts across the entire body”
Whether you are trying spot reduction specifically for flabby arms, belly fat, or the thighs, they all work on the same premise, so let’s focus on crunches for tummy fat. No matter which exercise you pick, it will result in burning of fat stores, but it doesn’t just burn fat deposits that are around the targeted muscles. In other words, crunches will help burn fat, but not on your belly specifically. This is why such exercises can help with weight loss, but they won’t help with ‘spot reduction’.
A Look At The Science
“If spot reduction worked, tennis players would have a higher fat percentage in their less used arm; but, a study found that there was no difference between left or right arms”
The idea of spot reduction has been around for decades and several studies have investigated these claims. Despite their conclusive refutation of ‘spot reduction’ claims, the myth persists, as marketers use these terms to sell weight loss products and unscrupulous publishers to push their content. Here’s an interesting study that conclusively busts the spot reduction myth.
Researchers began their study based on the assumption that if targeted fat loss works, the arm that is exercised more should have less fat. They recorded body fat percentages on both left and right arms of tennis players. Logically, the arm used to hold and swing the racket should have had less fat than the unused arm, but this was not the case. Both left and right arms had equal fat percentages in all players.
While working on a specific muscle group is great for strengthening those muscles, don’t fool yourself into thinking it will help fat disappear from a particular area. Besides, by focusing on just one set of muscles, you run a risk of overtraining. Instead of trying to lose weight with spot reduction, follow a routine with exercises that work different muscle groups to avoid imbalances. As you lose weight, those troublesome spots will also start to improve, but it could take longer than you like. Just stay focused, have patience, and you will eventually be rewarded!