It would be nice if spot reduction worked, but it doesn’t. While most of us know this, sometimes we can’t resist the temptation to believe it does. Stronger abs is your goal? Abdominal work is the way to go. A smaller waist? Work on the diet and overall fitness. Is it your bottom half you’re frustrated with? Doing 50 lunges everyday won’t “spot reduce” your thighs. A combination of regular cardio, strength training and nutritional changes is the only tried and true answer. Not spot reduction.
An article I recently read pointed out that if spot reduction worked, professional tennis players would have one arm that was smaller than the other. It would make sense that the circumference of the dominant arm would be less if this logic were correct. We know the facts do not support this (the dominant arm may be a little stronger, though). Why then do we often fall for the myth that says that if we do more elliptical, we will have a smaller bottom half?
We all have areas that seem to almost resist our efforts to lose weight. Most of us have specific problem area/areas where the fat doesn’t seem to shift as fast as in other areas. This is just the way our bodies work (genetics are partially to blame), and focusing our efforts directly and specifically on those areas won’t be the ticket to getting them any smaller. What is the ticket? According to physical therapist Alan Tyson, owner and founder of Architech Sports, eating fewer calories is the first thing. Consistent exercise in the form of cardio and strength training is the other factor. “We can decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass, which will lead to that “toned” look, by watching what we eat and exercising on a regular basis.” Strength training is also important, not only to increase muscle mass, but also to increase metabolism as well. When we build up our muscles, we can actually burn more throughout the day. Alan made me laugh this morning when I talked to him about this. He said, “As long as the six-pack is in the fridge, it’s okay. Some people have it right up front in the fridge where we can see it, and others, like linebackers maybe, have it in the back of the fridge. Either way the muscles can be working for them…”
While spot reduction for problem areas doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work on those areas if want to “tone up”. Strength training can help define the muscle and make it more visible. But the bottom line is that it is what we eat that determines if we see can see that muscle or not!
What do you do to decrease fat? Have you ever believed the spot reduction myth?