The aim of many intermediate-advanced exercisers is to reduce body fat to improve muscle tone and visibility of muscle. This can be done in many ways, but is it possible to spot reduce? i.e drop body fat in a specific area of the body through targeted exercise. Find the truth about spot reduction as you read on..
WHAT ACTUALLY IS SPOT REDUCING?
As stated above spot reduction refers to the claim that you are able to reduce body fat in a certain area of the body with targeted exercises that specifically concentrate effort on muscles within that area. The theory claims to be able to isolate fat burning in areas of the body that require most attention/fat reduction. Many sports scientists have studied this area over the last 2 decades all with similar findings and conclusions.
THE SPOT REDUCING TRUTH
Once you look through many of the studies that have tried to conclusively answer this question you start to see obvious trends in the results. Overall the studies have shown that it is not generally possible to spot reduce but a blanket fat reduction is more commonly seen.
A recent study in 2018 made participants train their non-dominant leg 3 x per week with a high repetition resistance program over 12 weeks in an attempt to reduce fat in the working leg. Keeping all controls the same i.e calories, sleep, stress etc. the participants did reduce body fat but interestingly not in the working leg but actually across the whole muscular system.
This recent result added to the strength of findings that spot reducing does not look to be possible within the human body but a more blanket reduction throughout the body tends to take place instead.
These findings make sense if you know a little of how the human body and all its systems function inter-connectively with each other to produce everything from; movement, hormonal responses, stress responses, adaptation, disease fighting, neural control, digestion etc. The findings show how the human body is the most complex and intelligent machine on our planet using the input of several different systems to produce a specific response.
It is not possible to isolate any bodily system let alone isolate an area for intensive fat burning - the body can not choose where to burn fat just as it can not choose which muscles to gain it's energy from. Instead focus your efforts on total bodily fat reduction through safe and effective exercise prescription and sensible, balanced eating habits.
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Until next time,
Move well, eat well, sleep well,