Almost all of us look for magical solutions for our certain body parts to change them the way we want. This desire of ours drives us to search for targeted fat loss, also known as spot reduction methods.
Yaar, Mera Baki sab to thik hai, bas thoda paet Kam ho Jaye!
I have experienced this during my weight loss journey. For me, my targeted areas were the thighs and belly. So, I searched every exercise that can help me lose fat from those targeted areas. And, later during my journey in the fitness industry, I have met many others like me. Their questions were: How to lose fat in arms? How to lose belly fat? How to slim legs? And so on. As you can notice, one thing that is common here is that all these questions are body parts specific. The Internet has tons of videos that can help you target those areas, and some even claim to reduce fat from a particular area.
But, do they work?
What is spot reduction?
From the name itself, one can clearly understand that spot reduction claims that one can target fat in a specific area for reduction through an exercise of particular muscles in the desired area.
People use these spot reduction methods to focus on only troublesome areas rather than training their entire body.
“Melt that fat! Feel the burn! Tone up those abs! ” Sounds familiar?
These are some typical lines used to grab attention because each of us has at least one troublesome area where we desperately want to lose fat.
Spot Reduction: Myth or Reality
There is no evidence to support the belief that spot reductions are effective. If you want to lose fat in specific areas, go for physical activity and proper nutrition. Don’t look for shortcuts, dear!
How fat loss works?
When a person starts and maintains a good exercise routine and limit calories through a balanced diet, the body does two things to burn fat.
- Use energy stored in fat cells to fuel activity.
- It stops putting away much fat for storage.
So, losing fat from any area requires you to follow a good exercise routine and a calorie deficit diet. There’s no other way to get that fat out from your body.
Factors affecting the accumulation of fat:
- Genetics: A study shows whether you store fat around the trunk or other parts of your body are influenced by genetic factors. This effect is present predominantly in women and to a much lower extent in men.
- Gender: Men and Women store fat differently. Women can store fat more easily on hips and legs, while men tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen to a greater extent.
- Hormones: Testosterone and estrogen are the two most significant drivers of fat storage. Women store more fats in thighs and butts, whereas male bodies hold more onto the stomach.
And, many other factors can influence fat storage.
What do the area-specific exercises mean?
Though the area-specific exercise doesn’t help you choose where the body loses fat, you can select where you want to look more toned and defined. Exercises that target the particular muscle group combined with HIIT’s and cardio can help you lose fat and tone the preferred area.
Doing lots of crunches or ab specific exercises will help you get stronger abdominal muscles, but the abs won’t show up if you don’t lose the overall body fat.
So, cardio, whole-body workouts, or workouts targetting the particular muscle groups (to tone specific areas) and a healthy diet (calorie deficit in case of weight loss) are essential to see the desired results.
Why doesn’t spot reduction work?
Fat in the cells is in the form of triglycerides. During a workout, the triglycerides break down into glycerol and free fatty cells that flow into the bloodstream and give the body energy. This process happens in the entire body and NOT in a specific area.
As you gain weight, you’re not increasing the number of fat cells; you’re increasing the amount of lipid in the cells. And when you’re losing weight, you’re reducing the size of fat cells and not the number of cells you have.
So, when you exercise or stay in a calorie deficit, your body uses energy stored in the cells in the form of fat. And, the cells get smaller in size with the use of energy present in them. As a result, the body gets smaller because it contains less stored fat. The body never ONLY draws energy from the area you’re working. It derives it from the body as a WHOLE. Just like fad diets or crash diets, fad exercises never work.
A study shows that 24 people did the abdominal exercise for six weeks, found no reduction in belly fat.
What can you do?
- Compound exercises: These are those that target multiple muscle groups at the same time. E.g., plank, pushups, etc., engage more muscle groups and thus burn more calories and fat.
- Don’t run after body part exercises: Crunches are the most popular exercise for targeting abdominal crunches. Some exercises like plank, shoulder tap, mountain climbers, etc., can strengthen your core. Focus more on activities that involve more muscle groups. Most of the strength training activities will strengthen your core and abdominal muscles.
- Respect yourself: Stop running after the spot reduction methods and respect your body type. Fitness comes in all shapes and sizes. Focus on being you. Try to focus more on a stronger, healthier body. And, don’t get attached to the weighing scale, it doesn’t define fitness. Focus on body composition.
- Consistency is the key: You can’t achieve anything in just one day. Have you gained weight in one day? No, right? So, how do you demand your body to shed off those extra kgs in just a few days? Give yourself some time. Be patient with the process and develop healthy habits with time. Stop using fad diets or fad exercises to get the desired results.
- Crush the spot reduction myths: Spot reduction is the biggest myth, and you’re just wasting your time and money if someone is telling you to do some targeted exercise to see the results. Lose overall body fat, target the body part you want to be toned and have a healthy balanced diet.
And, Don’t forget to love yourself. 🙂