If there is one thing that drives most fitness professionals crazy it’s constantly explaining to individuals that spot reduction is false.  Spot reduction is defined as the belief that fat can be targeted for reduction in a specific area of the body.  It is not surprising that so many people believe this idea when you consider the abundance of products on the market claiming to do this very thing.   Couple that with our need for a quick fix and it is no surprise that according to market research from 2013, the weight loss industry was a $65 billion dollar industry.  Wouldn’t life be so much easier if all those infomercials promising you “rock hard abs” were true?  But just because we want to desperately believe it to be true does not make it any more so.

For starters, if you look at the science and specifically how muscle and fat function, it becomes quite clear that spot reduction is impossible.  Although the body does indeed use fat as fuel, it is impossible to target certain fat cells around a specific body part.  The fat needs to be broken down first and it can come from anywhere in the body, not specifically the area that you are working on. Fat loss is then a result of total body metabolism and therefore distributed throughout your whole body and not to any specific area.  So sorry to break it to you, but doing a ton of sit-ups will not result in a six-pack.  If this were true, then you could be overweight with a high body-fat percentage and still have a six-pack.  Obviously this is just not the case.  Although it is true that fat can be lost in certain areas of the body more quickly than others, it is a result of factors beyond your control such as genetics, hormones, gender, and body type.

So in order to lose fat in those “stubborn” areas we must make smarter choices about how we chose to exercise.  Your exercise program should be tailored to change your body composition, specifically your fat to muscle ratio.  The more muscle you have the more calories you burn even at rest.  So make sure your workouts consist of plenty of compound exercises that incorporate your whole body.  These exercises work multiple muscle groups and require you to expend more energy and increase your metabolic rate.  There should also be a strength component in your workout so that you can retain your muscle as you lose weight.  Make sure that you are also consuming a well balanced diet with whole foods and enough protein to support your growing muscle.  This will help with your total body fat loss, and if you are consistent you will notice that even your trouble areas will also trim down.

No one likes to admit it but we all know that the first place we gain weight is usually the last place we lose it.  So stay focused on the end goal, be consistent with your workouts and healthy eating, and you will be well on your way to sculpting that lean body you desire.