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Spot Reduction: Targeting Fat Loss for Specific Body Parts

Updated: Nov 2, 2022


Donnar's Two Cents:

Almost everyone would like to change certain parts of their body. Have you heard of someone make mention or could you even be guilty of wanting to, and asking if there is a certain type of exercise to target a certain area of your body?


How do I lose fat only in my tummy? How can I reduce fat arms quickly? Is there a way I can get rid of my hips?

Sounds familiar? Phrases like these are common in fitness settings, but are they meaningful? Or are they distracting us from more important aspects of fitness and distorting our understanding of the most effective and efficient ways to reach our goals?


Achieving change through diet and exercise takes time and effort, leaving those who desire a quick fix in search of a faster solution. The concept of spot reduction follows the belief that training a specific muscle will result in fat loss in that area of the body. Unfortunately, You’ll only set yourself up for disappointment if you believe in the myth of spot reduction.


Here’s What You Can and Can’t Target:


What actually happens when you work out a muscle group? You challenge your muscles. Muscle fibers get torn and rebuilt, and with proper exercise and nutrition, they become more developed.

Although this can lead to blood flow in the exercised muscles leading to some interaction with the subcutaneous (under the skin aka area of concern) fat, the effects are very minimal.

Quoted by Chris McGrath, Founder of Movement First New York:

Spot reduction doesn’t work because it usually targets muscles that are relatively small through exercises that are relatively insignificant in terms of enhancing overall fitness, strength and energy expenditure—regardless of how much you “feel the burn” when training them.

All this doesn’t mean that trying to lose weight is pointless, or that exercise plays no role in dropping excess pounds. It simply means that if someone wants to lose weight in a specific location, they are going to have to lose weight everywhere else as well. That means living healthily. Exercising regularly and consuming a healthy diet.


Set a New Tone:

Although spot fat reduction is most likely to be ineffective at burning fat in specific body parts, targeting troublesome areas by toning the underlying muscle can have beneficial results. While you can’t necessarily choose where your body loses fat, you can choose where you want to look more toned and defined.



How to Trigger Realistic Spot Reduction:


Think of this technique like a one-two punch: You’ll want to perform an exercise directly at the problem area and at the same time, you'll want to jump start your metabolic rate by performing up to a minute of a high-intensity exercise that compliments the area of concern.


If you are working out with a trainer, I'm pretty sure you don't have to worry too much about the programming that they have set out for you. However, if you are working out on your own, you can add this combination in to your current workout program.


I would recommend pairing this with a cardio or high intensity workout on non-lifting days. Think of it as a way to supercharge your day, where you allow recovery between your lifting and HIIT sessions, and place great emphasis and focus on each individual workout.


Basing these workouts on the most common areas of concern: The Tummy.


Depending on each individuals fitness level, I have provided a variety of examples below for you to choose from; or send me a message to request for a sample video of the workout that I have listed.


With that said, you can switch out these exercises if you want to spot reduce a different area such as your arms or thighs – Just be sure to keep the high-intensity cardiovascular exercises that will compliment your target of interest. Have fun :)


Warm-Up:

  • 10 minutes of light activity (e.g. walking, light jog, etc.)

  • Dynamic (active) stretching


BEGINNER WORKOUT:

Workout:

  • Crunches: Perform 20 repetitions

  • Mountain Climbers/ High Knees: 45 to 60s

  • Bicycle Crunches: 20 reps

  • Mountain Climbers/ High Knees: 45 to 60s

  • Plank: Hold for 30 seconds

  • Mountain Climbers/ High Knees: 45 to 60s


Repeat 1 to3 times


INTERMEDIATE WORKOUT:

Workout:

- Jump rope as an alternative if box jumps might cause knee problems, high impact on knees or fear of heights

  • Decline Crunches: Perform 20 repetitions

  • Box Jumps/ Jump Rope: 45 to 60s

  • Leg Raises w Hip Thrust or Leg Raises on the Floor: 60s

  • Box Jumps/ Jump Rope: 45 to 60s

  • Windmills or Side Planks: 15 reps each side

  • Box Jumps/ Jump Rope: 45 to 60s


Repeat 2 to 4 times


ADVANCED WORKOUT:

Workout:

- Burpees: Full flat down on the ground

- Decline: Legs Elevated on a platform, No movement of the hips

  • Decline Plank to Push Up or on the floor: Perform 12 repetitions each side

  • Burpees: 45 to 60s

  • Decline Shoulder Taps or on the floor: 60s

  • Box Jumps: 45 to 60s

  • Hanging Leg Raises: 15 reps

  • Grasshoppers: 45 to 60s

Repeat 2 to 4 times


Cool-Down:

  • 10 minutes of light activity (e.g., treadmill, walking, light jog, etc.)

  • Static stretching


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