What is Spot Reduction and Does it Work?

What is Spot Reduction and Does it Work?

Trying to get rid of that stubborn belly fat? Not happy about how thick your thighs are? Many people believe that focusing on working the muscles around areas with high fat that it will burn the fat itself. Let’s learn about spot reduction and if it actually works.

What is spot reduction?

You have probably already heard of it, you just did not know there was a name for it. Spot reduction is the theory one is able to choose where he or she loses body fat via working the muscles around that area.

In fact, there is research that suggests something of this nature is technically possible. One study found that blood flow and lipolysis (fat breakdown) are increased around contracting muscles, in comparison to the resting muscles.

There you have it, spot reduction is real because of a single study. We can just do all the crunches in the world and say adios to that stubborn belly fat.

Just kidding, research already says that does not work. In fact, there’s a lot of research that has support against this myth. Don’t even get me started on ItWorks wraps.

From here on, I will begin to shred the spot reduction misconception faster than 1,000 sit ups will help you drop 1 lb. It is also worth noting that the science will be getting turned up a notch. If that’s not your forte, skip to the last section of this blog post to conclude your reading. But for my science fans, this one is for you and I will keep it as elementary as possible.

The Science Behind Burning Fat:

When your caloric intake is greater than your caloric expenditure (when you eat more fuel than your what body uses for energy), your body will convert much of the extra fuel into triglycerides and stockpile them within fat cells. Fat cells are basically a cargo space that will enlarge or shrink to provide accommodation for these deposits.

During physical activity, triglycerides are reduced to a new substrate called fatty acids so that they can be used for fuel. However, it is important to note that these fatty acids from fat cells cannot directly be transported into the muscle and used for energy. They must navigate through the entire circulatory system before reaching the working muscle. The body wants to be as efficient as possible and this is a time-consuming pathway. It is also important to note that within muscle, there are already triglycerides. These intra-muscular depots are what your body will prefer to extract fatty acids from for fuel, due to convenience, not from body fat. This makes the location of fat cells in relation to the exercising muscles completely irrelevant.

The Takeaway:

If spot reduction exists, it has the equivalent efficiency of trying to melt a snowman with a lit match. You will not shed belly fat by doing various forms of sit ups nor will you “tone” up your legs because you did a bunch of body weight squats. Gender and genetics are just a couple of the things that will determine where you lose body fat first. If you have the goal of reducing body fat, the most effective remedy will be putting in the physical effort (specifically with total body workouts that you would perceive as strenuous), remaining consistent, and watching your caloric intake. If you are having difficulties with rebellious fat or simply do not know where to start, you are in luck. Elite is equipped with an abundance of personal trainers and a nutrition staff ready to propel you en route to new accomplishments and escalated happiness.

If you’d like to learn more, come see me for a free fitness consultation!

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Alex Tran Personal Trainer at Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Alex Tran, Certified Personal Trainer at Elite Sports Club-Brookfield.

Alex has a B.S. in Exercise Science from Carroll University and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He specializes in Powerlifting/Strength Training, Soccer-Specific Training, and Youth Sports Performance. Alex lives by the philosophy that those belonging to the field of Exercise Science have a responsibility to uphold with the certain persons in which they serve. Alex advocates a science-based approach and views it as his duty to educate those who seek help with their body, with the hopes of administering a positive, long-term impact on the rest of their lives one rep at a time.


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