Corinne Austin | Personal Training

Spot Reducing – The Facts

No matter what our bodies shape or size is, we are always discontent with at least one aspect of it. From bulging bellies, to thunder thighs, through to ‘J-Lo’ booties or ‘cankles’, we all have a limb or other physical attribute which we’d like to replace with something a little sexier than the one we either genetically inherited or self-created.

We’d all love the ability to shape or mould our bodies into the exact shape we desire. To lose weight from one area (i.e. the buttocks) while simultaneously gaining it in another (i.e. the boobs) to create a well-balanced physique would be more than satisfactory in an ideal world.

However, unfortunately, this is not our reality. Nor will it ever be. Spot reducing – choosing to eliminate body-fat from an isolated body-part – is a myth. It is also physically and biologically impossible to work a specific muscle group with the sole intention of reducing fat from the area surrounding and laying over that muscle group.

The infomercially-famous ‘Ab Circle Pro’ has made headlines of late for trying to convey some truth in this old wives tale. The ‘Ab Circle Pro’ marketers were blatantly deceptive in their promise to consumers that weight loss would come as a direct result of exercising their abdominals on this product for three minutes a day. They’ve consequently been ordered to refund $US25 million to US customers. Spot reducing does not exist.

There is no magical exercise which helps to reduce fat, no matter where on your body you go. Performing one hundred crunches per day will not give you visible washboard abdominals. Lunging up your driveway five times per day may tone and develop your butt and thigh muscles, but it wont eliminate the fat that’s currently hiding those muscles.

In fact, by doing high repetitions of any exercise (without addressing dietary requirements and other exercise factors) may do just the opposite to what you’re hoping; too many crunches may encourage your tummy to get bigger because the muscle is being told to grow but the fat that lies over it isn’t being told to budge.

So, why doesn’t spot reducing work? Here’s a little bit about fat science 101:

  • Fat cells are called adipocytes
  • Adipocytes grow and shrink as they store or release fat
  • When your caloric intake is higher than your output, your adipocytes grow in size
  • Your adipocytes shrink when they release fat as a direct result of exercising or correctly balanced nutritional habits
  • We have no control over which adipocytes release fat – hence our inability to spot reduce
  • The bodies hormonal selection of which adipocytes it will release fat from is completely random.

Fortunately, however, through quality regular exercise (namely a balanced combo of strength training and cardiovascular activity), clean nutritional habits, and good food choices, we are definitely able to tone our muscles, reduce our bodyfat, and improve the overall aesthetics of our bodies. Some fat is definitely more stubborn than some – I’ve always wondered myself why fat will disappear from the boobs quicker than it will disappear from the upper thighs, particularly when the boobs have a defined purpose in life but the upper thigh region doesn’t (?!) – but as long as you maintain a healthy diet and remain disciplined with your exercise, then an ‘in-shape’ body will follow soon.

For comments email