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The Spot Reduction Myth

October 12th, 2009 No comments

It’s impossible to target just one area

Have you seen one of those countless new ab (lounger, rocker, blaster) machines that promise to help you tone your midsection? Do you believe they will do everything promised, from flattening your tummy to helping you lose weight? If you believe the hype it’s time for a spot reduction intervention.

Working only one part of your body, be it your arms, thighs, abs or butt, won’t get you the results you crave. And no, buying a several hundred dollar machine to target that area won’t make a bit of difference.

Why women want spot reduction
Every one of us has a body part we loathe. Even women who are generally happy with the way they look can pinpoint at least one body part they wish was a little smaller, firmer or more defined.

In an ideal world we could decide to work just that one area until it suits us. You’re satisfied with your weight overall but wish you could remove some of the fat on your thighs? Go out and purchase a thigh machine and use it everyday religiously until the fat starts melting off your legs.

You know as well as I do (probably from experience) that it’s never going to happen, but when you’re unhappy with the way your body looks it’s easy to get caught up in a product that promises easy solutions.

Why is spot reduction impossible?
Fat can’t turn into muscle - The idea behind some of these spot reduction promises seems to be that training one body part will transform the fat in that area to muscle. Muscle and fat are two completely different things, one can’t turn into the other.
Ab exercises don’t burn calories - After my last point you may be thinking, “It shouldn’t matter if fat can’t be transformed into muscle. If I work my abs shouldn’t I be losing fat in that area while also building muscle?” The answer is no. Losing weight (fat) requires expending more calories than you take in. About 3,500 less calories a week will result in one pound lost. Ab exercises (or most other isolation exercises) done alone burn a very small amount of calories, meaning no weight loss. So although you may be building ab muscles, they’ll likely be hidden beneath layers of fat
You can’t choose where your body will gain or lose fat - Look around your group of girlfriends the next time you’re all together. Chances are you all have very different shapes. Even women who are the same height and weight carry their pounds differently. Some (apple shapes) store fat in the middle, while other (pear shapes) have small waists and larger hips and thighs. You can’t control where your body stores fat, so there’s no use trying.

A complete approach to fitness, which includes aerobic exercise and total body strength training is the only way to lose weight and reveal a toned body. Don’t be surprised if you find your body has its own ideas about where the weight will come off first.

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