Gym Myth: Spot Fat Reduction
We have all been there. You finally decide it’s time to get back in shape. That excess weight around your waist has finally prompted you to act! You think to yourself, “the rest of my body looks alright, but this fat around my waist is the main problem. Maybe I can just do some sit-ups and some core exercises to get this fat off my waist.” Sadly, the concept of spot reduction is a total MYTH! The human body is an extraordinary thing, but it also works in such ways that don’t always align with our desires. In this article, I will debunk the myth that you can lose fat in specific areas and help you get that unwanted fat off the quickest way possible.
Spot Reduction Myth
The idea of spot reduction has been backed by popular figures and infomercials for years. Consumerism has preyed on our insecurities for much longer than that. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get rid of that unwanted fat miraculously in a short period of time? Whether that fat is in your thighs, arms, or torso doesn’t matter. There is a product or routine out there for every problem spot. You may even have experience with some of these products. I’m betting they didn’t work too well. The myth started with consumerism making you believe you had a problem, then putting their product in front of you as the best solution. Only, its not the best and may not even the second best. They just want your money! Education is the best way to counter consumerism and knowing how your body works is the first step to losing that unwanted fat.
How Your Body Stores and Loses Fat
You could type this question into Google and get thousands of different complicated ways that explain the chemistry on how your body breaks down food and stores fat. I will save you the trouble of hours of research. According to an article interviewing Doctors Karena Wu (DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS, CKTP, CPI) and Clifford Stark (DO, Medical Director at Sports Medicine in Chelsea, Director of Northshore LILJ Plainview Sports Medicine Fellowship) spot reducing is a total myth.
“It’s important to realize that when people develop more fat, they are not making more fat cells,” Stark said. “Instead, the existing fat cells are storing more lipids and becoming larger. Where and how much individuals tend to concentrate their fat differs. Some see fat pockets in the abdominal area, some in their legs, etc.” Where you store fat depends on a number of factors. These include gender, hormones, genetics, and insulin sensitivity. Stark explained that fat cannot be selectively burned from a specific area just like you can’t choose where you gain fat to begin with.
Full Body Exercises Are Best
Contrary to the myth of spot reduction, a full body workout is your best shot at reducing that unwanted fat over time. Many of us believe cardio is not the best way to lose fat. See my previous myth buster Cardio is the Best Way to Lose Fat.
“Building more muscle overall can help consume more calories and thus results in less fat overall,” Stark assured. Doctor Wu also confirmed Starks findings, “Cardiovascular exercises that are for fat burning affect the entire body. They usually incorporate the full body, or both arms or legs. The entire system gets affected. This is general or systemic fat loss.”
If you were planning your workouts around a specific area because you wanted to reduce fat there, you are not alone. Many of us hear and see things and immediately coin them as true. The myth about spot reduction was not meant to throw you off your fitness game. Rather, these companies want you to feel like you need their product. Good thing for you, you don’t!
If you are having trouble obtaining the right mentality to make a change or you want more fitness education, you may want to consider working with a personal trainer!
Come in to Iron Orr Fitness Center today to receive a FREE Complimentary Consultation. We will give you a medical grade body composition test, a 20min workout/evaluation with one of our certified personal trainers and develop a plan to help you reach your fitness goals.
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by Ray San Giovanni