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Spot Reduction Doesn’t Work

Category : Active Living, Exercise

Last week we kicked off our “Moves You Can Use” blog with exercises for specific body parts. That led to the inevitable question, “Can you do a series on ‘How to make my belly flatter’?” That question made us realize that we ought to address the “spot reduction” myth head on!

How do I get rid of this?

People ask us all the time, “What’s the best exercise to get rid of this?” (as they point to an area of their body they feel is a bit too flabby) Infomercials are always promising to “burn fat” off of your belly, your butt, or your thighs. This drives us (and most likely all fitness professionals) crazy because doing specific body part exercises will definitely help to strengthen that muscle but you cannot “spot reduce” fat. 

Burn, baby, burn

Yes, you definitely feel your abdominal muscles when you do crunches or your glutes when you do an exercise to target them. The “burn” you feel is because those muscles are exerting a lot of energy NOT because you are burning fat. So doing abdominal crunches does not mean you are burning abdominal fat.  If your abdominal fat is resistant to mobilization then it will probably be the last fat to be mobilized and utilized. (I know, you didn’t want to hear that)  You will likely notice changes to your arms and other areas and start to wonder why the fat around your stomach (or hips) isn’t cooperating.  Be patient, eventually it will happen! 

So why do spot specific exercises?

As a trainer instruct clients to do specific exercises for core, glutes, arms, etc. The reason is to strengthen those muscles. There are many muscles that become weak when humans spend too much time sedentary and to avoid injury a strong core and glutes are important.

What else can you do?

A combination of aerobic exercise, interval training and muscle-conditioning will get you mobilizing that unwanted body fat. Realize that adopting an active lifestyle with a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day and a healthy diet is also crucial to reducing your body fat. The trainers at XO can help you make the changes needed to reach your health & fitness goals. It’s important to pick just one thing that you can do differently this week and make it a habit!