Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spot Reduction

A major question asked by most people starting an exercise program is “Can I just work on my problem area?” Spot reduction is really the notion that we can focus on that one problem spot in our bodies, and reduce the fat in that region only. Well, I am afraid to burst your bubble, but spot reduction does not work. You can reduce fat all over and tone certain areas, but you cannot necessarily control where you lose fat (well, unless you visit a plastic surgeon).

So what should you do? Focus on burning fat all over your body by doing cardiovascular exercises and controlling your diet. To further concentrate on those problem areas, do some strength training that heavily involves those parts of your body. If your stomach is your problem area, there are so many toning exercises for the stomach that you can add to your workout, but it is also important to improve your posture while doing other exercises like push-ups. When we get our posture right, we also work our core muscles with most exercises.

Understanding spot reduction is simple. Muscles are separate from fat. Fat appears where it wants to on the body, and this cannot really be controlled. Women generally gain fat more easily around the thighs and butt, while men generally gain fat more easily around the stomach. However, though this is usual, it is not true for all people. Even where an area may be the first to gain fat in the body, it does not mean that it would be the first area where fat would be lost. Fat is burned throughout the body by physical activity. You can work on your muscles, but if there’s a layer of fat covering it, you need to burn off the fat. And weight training does not burn a lot of fat. To lose the fat, you need cardio exercises.

As you structure and follow your fitness program, I encourage you not to be convinced by late-night infomercials or commercials on websites where they claim they know the recipe to lose stomach fat or thigh fat or whatever specific area it is. Stick to your exercise plan of cardio and strength training to lose fat all over and tone specific areas.

If you recently started a diet or exercise program, I would love an update on your progress. Feel free to let us know how you’ve been doing!

Also, please check out my columns at 360nobs and Style House.


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