“6 exercises to get rid of stubborn belly fat.” ? “Do this for 10 minutes a day to get rid of those flabby arms.” ?”8 exercises to smoother hips and thighs.”
I’m pretty sure you have seen some kind of ad boasting a secret to reducing fat in certain areas of our bodies. But here’s the thing: You can’t intentionally reduce fat in certain locations of the body with exercise. This myth has sadly been long perpetuated in the fitness industry. Any trainer/fitness professional who says differently is usually trying to sell something or is just plain misinformed.
No amount of crunches is going to make belly fat disappear. Side lunges won’t directly shrink your hips. Triceps extensions won’t exclusively get rid of upper arm fat. Despite what the magazines and the internet are still trying to convince you of, your body reduces fat by its own standards. When beginning a weight-loss journey, some people may noticeably lose fat in their arms or belly first. Others may lose it in their chest or thighs first. But that isn’t because they’re only doing area-specific workouts. Genetics play a huge role in when and how our fat stores are used. Just like we can’t choose where our fat is stored, we can’t choose how it is eliminated either.
(NOTE: Now, if you want to GROW your muscles, that’s a whole different story. You absolutely can and should use area-specific exercises to grow your muscles. You can definitely use weight training to target specific muscles that you want to “pop” as well as increase strength in that area.)
So… what does reduce overall body fat? A calorie deficit, plain and simple. If you burn more calories than you consume, your body turns to your fat reserves (as well as some muscle, *sadface*) to maintain energy. This is why it is SO important to avoid extreme deficits; in the event of an extreme diet, your body will likely start to eat up your muscle as well as fat. Sure, you may see shrinkage around your body, but you will also notice more fatigue and a loss in muscle gains and strength. And long-term restriction could even lead to metabolic damage. For most people, a daily 300-400 kcal deficit is all you need to lose fat at a maintainable rate (and preserve as much muscle as you can). I good rule of thumb for weight loss should be to eat as many calories as possible while still seeing/feeling results. Unfortunately, a lot of people have it the other way around. Add in some moderate cardio and tackle some of those free weights a few times a week as well as active recovery days and you’re on the right track for sustainable fat loss.
What’s the saddest spot-reduction myth you’ve seen? Share below!