Spot Reduction and Burning Unwanted Body Fat
I’ve received several requests to do YouTube video explanations on some of these topics, so I did each a YouTube Video and Blog post so you can read/watch whichever you prefer, or both! Be sure to watch Part 1 and Part 2 for the videos, and don’t forget to comment and let me know what you think! Blog post and video on Breasts & Weight Loss are next!
WHAT IS SPOT REDUCTION?
Spot reduction is the idea that by doing targeted exercises for one body part, you will burn fat in that one specific area. For example, doing ab exercises would burn fat from your stomach, or doing leg exercises would burn leg or thigh fat.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is not how our bodies work. Spot reduction is a myth and is only perpetuated by those who are looking to grab your attention and make a quick buck on whatever product they’re selling. Don’t waste your time on false ideas that will only leave you feeling like results will never come. They will. So let’s talk about why spot reduction doesn’t work and what to do to get real, long-lasting results.
When our bodies burn fat, it doesn’t happen in one specific area. Where your body burns fat depends on YOUR body. If you tell a group of people to go do the same exact workout, their bodies will not show results in the same places. Some will lose weight on their stomach first, some will lose it from their legs first. Genetics plays a huge role in where your body loses fat first and trying to target body fat with specific exercises simply does not work.
Another problem with spot reduction is that many of the exercises associated reducing fat in specific areas don’t actually burn that many calories, which means your body isn’t going to be in a fat-burning state. You are better off engaging in a high-intensity, well-rounded workout routine which will both burn calories and tone your body!
So how exactly do you burn fat? The obvious answer is by exercising! But which exercises should you do? This depends on your fitness goals. Are you wanting to lose fat? Gain muscle? A little bit of both? Let’s take a look at the two main training styles:
1. CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE
Cardio is an effective way of burning fat since it increases your heart rate which, in turn, burns calories. However, cardio has its limits. First, cardio does not shape or tone your body, it simply burns fat. So if you are doing only cardiovascular exercises and no strength training, then you aren’t going to achieve a toned and fit body. In fact, too much cardio can actually have the opposite effect. Beyond a certain amount of cardio (45-60 minutes depending on the intensity level), your body no longer burns fat but instead burns muscle. This is called muscle catabolism and you want to stay away from it. Muscle catabolism can also happen when you don’t eat enough, specifically protein, so be sure you are eating a healthy and balanced diet to support your fitness goals.
2. STRENGTH TRAINING
Strength training is any type of exercise that builds strength, anaerobic endurance, and muscles. Strength training can be done in many forms, from body weight exercises to resistance training exercises to weight lifting exercises.
The important thing with strength training is that you are pushing your muscles to grow. This is where most women get discouraged because they think muscles will make them bulky. If any of you have seen my personal fitness photos, I have been lifting weights for 2 years now – do I look bulky? No! Women do not have the levels of testosterone in our bodies in order to naturally build big, bulky muscles. The women you see with a lot of muscle, whether it’s to your liking or not, have worked very hard to achieve that specific look and have likely taken specific supplements to help them get there. It does not happen by accident! When women lift weights and follow a strength training routine as I have, it shapes and tones their bodies, lifts their booties, pulls in their waist, tummies, and gives them nice and lean sculpted arms. There are a few reasons why:
a. The more muscle you have, the more fat your body can burn! This is why too much cardio is not good for you – too much will begin to eat away at muscle and deteriorate your body’s ability to burn fat efficiently.
b. Muscle is lean and tight in nature, whereas fat is blubbery and gelatinous in nature. The more muscle you have on your body, the more tight and lean you will look. Remember, 1lb of muscle takes up less than half the space that 1lb of fat does so it’s important not to rely on what you see on the scale when you’re looking at progress.
So which of these two types of training is best to burn fat, tone your body, and get results? A mix of both! A balanced workout routine of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training will help get you the best and most long lasting results. Cardio alone is not enough to achieve a fit and toned body since it doesn’t build muscle, and strength training alone is not enough since it simply doesn’t burn as many calories as cardio.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to have a well-rounded workout routine, targeting each muscle group throughout the week, and adding a short cardio workout after. You can also do both at the same time by doing strength training exercises at a higher intensity level. It all depends on what results you are looking for! Doing only leg exercises the whole week or doing only ab exercises the whole week will not be enough to bring your overall fitness level up to the point where your body will start burning overall body fat or building any muscle to tone your body. You need to focus on every muscle group individually.
Since spot reduction doesn’t exist, don’t think of doing targeted exercises as a way to burn fat in that one area, but instead as a way to strengthen and tone muscles in that one area. Where your body sheds fat first depends on your body, so as long as you have a well-balanced routine, your body will do the rest for you! It took me 6-8 weeks of daily dedication to start seeing results, so don’t give up!
Aside from burning fat through exercise, your diet is crucial when it comes to helping you reach your fitness goals. When they say abs are made in the kitchen, it’s so true! I can tell you first hand – no amount of exercise can work off a bad diet. So, the next time you see “belly-flattening exercises” or “thigh-slimming exercises,” remember that those exercises alone are not enough to get you the results you want.
At the end of the day, fat loss comes down to how many calories you take in versus how many calories you burn off. If you know me at all, you know I’m not one to count calories (count ingredients!) but this is the basic idea. An overall, well rounded workout routine is the best way to reduce overall body fat and tone your body to help you reach the healthy body you deserve!