THERE IS NO SUCH THING as spot reduction. For those who don’t know, spot reduction is an attempt to work on a specific part of the body in hopes to reduce the fat in that particular area. Unfortunately, the human body does not work this way. Doing 1000 sit-ups a day will make you stronger and increase the endurance of your abdominals but a six pick is more reflective of your diet than your workout. Everyone has fat storage in their body and genetically we all have areas that will be easier to rid of fat than others. Only the true genetically gifted will lose their stomach fat first, for the rest of us it may be face, neck, or upper torso.
In 2013, a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information took a closer looked at spot reduction. They took 11 participants, seven men and four women, into a 12 week program that worked on their non-dominant leg. Participants worked out 3 times per week and did 1 set of single leg press for 960-1200 reps; that is quite a bit of work! The anthropometric measurements looked at where:
“body mass, bone mass, bone mineral density (BMD), lean mass, fat mass, and fat percentage… determined by dual-emission x-ray absorptiometry.”
Diet recall was used to track their dietary habits, not the most effective method but it was tracked. What did they find? Total body fat mass went down about 5.1% or 1.54 pounds, no real changes in whole body bone mass, body mass, BMD, lean mass, or body fat percentage. Also, no significant difference was noted between legs AKA spot reduction doesn’t work. One surprising find was that upper body fat mass was reduced by 5%, this is interesting since it was not trained. What can we take away from this study? Training can help reduce your overall fat percentage but cannot be targeted at a specific body part. Sorry folks.
The body will determine where to store body fat and where to burn it off first. Hours of crunches will not help you get close to that six pack, decreasing your overall body fat percentage will. When it comes to your belly people fail when it comes to diet. Killing your workouts is great but don’t go home and eat a burger and fries. Take time in planning your diet and you will reap the benefits. The focus should always be on making changes to your lifestyle that can be maintained long term. Be patient. Be consistent. Results will come.