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You’ll often enter the gym to see people doing thousands of crunches in an attempt to reveal their six pack, or squats and lunges to trim their legs. Spot reducing fat from certain body parts isn’t possible, and may be a waste of your training efforts.
Why Spot Reduction is a MythSo you want to get a six pack – what’s the first thing you’re going to start doing in your training plan? Probably sit ups and crunches, right?
When trying to lose fat from certain areas of the body, most people think that they need to work that particular area as hard as possible to burn the fat from it. Unfortunately though, this isn’t the case.
It seems pretty logical – you want to trim up somewhere, so you work that area really hard, and the fat falls off, but they body just doesn’t work like that. Stubborn fat is a pretty common issue for a lot of people. Generally, women hold their fat around the hips and thighs, while for men it’s around the stomach and lower back. You’ll get people who have excess fat other places too, like the arms, upper back and chest, but generally it’s the stomach and thighs that get the most attention.
Muscle and fat are two entirely separate components though – they’re not really linked at all. If we use the most common example of spot reduction – doing crunches and sit ups to burn stomach fat, and look at why this doesn’t work.
Losing fat is all about calorie balanceFirstly, losing fat is all about calorie balance – to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume, so that your body has to burn its stored fat for energy. Clearly, the best way to do this is through diet. By lowering your calorie intake by 500 calories per day, you can burn a pound of fat per week without even doing any exercise. Diet is a far more effective way of losing fat than exercising, although that’s not to say that exercise isn’t important.
Crunches, however, are a very low calorie burner, as they’re easy to perform, and require very little effort, meaning that they don’t do much in the way of burning fat. Chances are you will feel a real burn in your abs after crunching for a while, but as muscle and fat aren’t linked, this does little in the way of burning stomach fat. This goes for all other exercises too – squats don’t specifically burn leg fat, curls don’t directly burn biceps fat, and so on.
The other issue is hormones and geneticsYour genetics play a huge role in where you store most of your fat, hence why women and men store fat in different places. This means that while it is certainly possible to lose fat from your stubborn areas, your body will always decide where to lose fat from first. Most people will see fat loss first from their face, and from the stubborn areas last.
Even if you do every exercise under the sun for your targeted body part, and do one thousand reps every day, you can’t tell your body where it’s going to lose fat from. The problem areas discussed above – the stomach and hips are often linked to hormone levels too. Without going into too much detail here, there isn’t that much you can do about your hormone levels, meaning that again, while you will eventually lose your stubborn fat, it will be the last thing to go.
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