Spot training is exercising a specific part of the body to lose fat in that region eg, sit ups for stomach fat, something that I feel is hugely misinterpreted today. Everyone at some point has stayed up too late watching TV then seen the infomercials come on in the early hours of the morning, the products they sell often target the trouble spots of the stomach, legs and butt, but more creative companies have even focused their attention on “helping” people reduce the size of their chins! And, while these pitches might sound ridiculous when looked at objectively, the products continue to sell for one simple reason: We want to believe in spot training.
The Short Answer
Simply put, the straight answer to this question is it doesn’t work. Taking time to understand the relationship of fat and muscle, as well as how they shrink and grow, will help you see why spot training simply cannot happen.
Simply put your body stores the fat we can see on top of the muscle but under the skin, so that it forms a sort of insulating layer over your muscles. Among other things, your body fat functions as a way for your body to store excess energy. As most people know, this fat is burned for fuel during exercise. What many people don’t realize, though, is that your muscles don’t necessarily turn on their nearest fat supply for that fuel.
In fact, you have very little control over where your body chooses to take its fat from when it needs energy. For the most part, fat is pulled from all over your body rather then one area at a time. Unfortunately, though, genetics plays a large role in deciding which areas will decrease in size more readily than others.
The most common ‘’Spot Training” is the mythical 6-pack. This leads people to use unproductive exercise regimes filled with an assortment of abdominal exercises. While this will increase the strength of those abdominal muscles it will not directly burn stomach fat.
One of the most fascinating and revealing studies on the topic was conducting in the 1980s at the University of Massachusetts. Over the course of the 27-day study, 13 male subjects were asked to perform 5000 sit-ups. Before and after embarking on this intense core workout, fat biopsies were taken on the stomach, buttocks and upper back of each subject. Even though the subjects were only allowed to train their stomachs – and only with sit-ups – for the entire study, there was a decrease in fat at all three test spots. Most interestingly, these spots were all reduced by similar amounts.
According to the American Council on Exercise, this study highlights a reason why spot reduction sometimes appears to work. Any workout that is challenging
enough to burn excess calories, and therefore reduce body fat, will cause weight to be lost evenly across the entire body. And this includes the target area.
So if you want to lose fat in a specific area talk to your trainer about Real Food and creating a weekly schedule that works for you. As it turns out you will not only see Results in that specific area but other parts of your body have no choice but to follow suit!