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Spot Reduction: Busting a Myth

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We’ve all seen the ads and programs promising to shed fat off those problem areas. They promise to show off your abs, thighs, arms, and just about every other part of your body. Many even come with money back guarantees – so they must be true, right? Sorry to tell you, but you can pop those pills and feel the burn for endless hours – but those problem areas are likely going to remain problem areas.

So what is the spot reduction myth?

The concept of spot reduction follows the myth that by working a particular muscle group to an extreme level, or in a different manner, you can reduce the fat around that area. While focusing exercises on a particular body part may result in reshaping that area by developing the associated muscles, those exercises are not going to burn fat solely from that area.

First, let’s understand the caloric impact of focusing on specific muscle groups rather than large muscle groups, and compound movements. Working only specific muscles, such as your abs or thighs is not going to burn as many calories as when you utilize large muscle groups in compound movements. Or, simply put, you will burn more calories performing squats, which work thighs, hips, buttocks, quadriceps, hamstrings, in addition to your core, than with an exercise that uses solely your abs – which is a smaller muscle group.

But you say wait, I am still burning calories – so I lose fat in those areas, yes? Not really. Your body burns fat from all sources, not just specific zones. So while people will find that they gain and lose fat in certain areas more than others, in general, your body will burn fat from the whole, not a specific zone.

So if you are trying these spot reduction methods and programs, you are most likely going to achieve frustration rather than results.

If you want to shed fat, first, understand that your diet is going to account for about 80% of your goal. Second, you need to take that time to derive your nutrient requirements, to ensure that you are both taking in healthy food options to fuel your fitness efforts and create a calorie deficit that will enable you to burn fat, and lastly, engage in a fitness program that is designed to put as much of your body to work as possible, to maximize your fat burning muscle potential.

Will it take time – yes, if done properly. But the results will be worth it. You will have lean muscle and lower body fat to show off your work. In the end, save your money, and stay away from the programs promising spot reduction. Remember, it’s a myth. And while anything is always possible, you are unlikely to find yourself the exception the general rules of human physiology.

Be smart, and…

Train Hard!

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