Hey guys! 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, this would mean that by doing ab exercises you would burn fat from your stomach area, or by doing leg exercises, you 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 what ever product they’re selling. I am telling you this because I want you to get results. I don’t want you to waste your time on false ideas that will only leave you discouraged, feeling like results will never come. They will. Let me tell you 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 any one specific area – that is, there is no one size fits all to burning fat. Where your body burns fat depends on your body, and just because you look similar to another person or may have fat in the same area, does not mean your body will burn it from those same areas in the same ways. One great example of this is if you tell a group of people to go do the same exact workout, their bodies will not show results in the same exact place. 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 reason for this is because many of the exercises associated with spot reduction don’t actually burn that many calories, therefore you’re 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. (More on that in a bit!)
So how exactly do you burn fat? The obvious answer is by exercising! But, which exercises should you do? This is where we need to look more at what your fitness goals are. 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 that toned and fit body you desire. In fact, too much cardio can actually have the opposite effects you are looking for. Beyond a certain amount of cardio (45-60 minutes depending on the intensity level), your body no longer burns fat but it instead burns muscle. This is called muscle catabolism and you want to stay away from it. Other ways your body enters muscle catabolism is by not eating 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 which builds strength, anaerobic enduranceand 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 on 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 and tummies, and gives nice, lean sculpted arms. There are a few reasons why:
1. 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.
2. 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. (and remember, 1lb of muscle takes up less than half the space 1lb of fat does – so remember not to pay attention to the scale.)
So what type of training is the 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. Or – you can 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! But 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 burning fat in that one area, but as strengthening and toning muscles in that one area, and as long as you have a well-balanced routine, your body will do the rest for you! Where your body sheds fat first depends on your body, and as long as you are following a well-rounded routine, and stick with it long enough to see results, you will get there! 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 in helping get you there, and keep you there. 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 they are trying to get your attention, and as much as they may be a great addition to your overall workout routine, 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. Spot-reducing exercises will not help you burn fat in that one area, but an overall, well rounded workout routine will help you to reduce overall body fat, including from your problem areas, and tone your body to help you reach that fit and toned, but more importantly, healthy body you deserve!