Firm Your Trouble Spots

If you're not satisfied with certain parts of your body, you may have thought that hundreds of crunches to get six-pack abs or hours of bicep curls to get arms like Michelle Obama's would work. But can it really?

Spot reduction is a way of exercising to lose weight in a specific body part or area. Fitness experts have been debunking spot reduction as a myth for decades because exercising just one body part isn't an effective way to eliminate fat. On the other hand, as part of a total fitness plan, spot reduction can build up muscles in specific areas.

When the body is burning fat, it shrinks all over the body, not just in specific areas. In fact, the places where people tend to focus on spot reduction seem to be the most resistant to that training technique. An article published by the American Council on Exercise says, "Although fat is lost or gained throughout the entire body, it appears that the last areas to become lean tend to be those areas where an individual tends to gain fat first. In most men (and some women), the abdominal region is the most difficult area to trim, while the hips, buttocks, and thighs tend to be trouble spots for most women (and some men)."

On the other hand, when you consistently exercise any muscle or body part, it will become stronger and firmer. The trick is to lose overall fat before those newly-toned muscles become visible. Some people (though not many) can burn enough calories through spot reduction to lose fat in specific areas, but the fat has to come off all over the body, not just on certain areas like your arms or abs.

Mike Ceja, CFP Certified Personal Trainer/Sports Therapist at Lloyd Athletic Club in Portland, OR says, "The latest science says spot reduction may actually work, but with a caveat: you have to actually work hard. Most folks that have been sedate for years, have no clue what spot reduction really means. Unfortunately, the older and more out of shape you are, the less likely you are to see fast results and this usually leads to giving up. Trying to exercise just specific body parts is also a contributing factor to the higher incidence of injury in older clients. People need a trainer to teach them how to improve their overall fitness while at the same time, toning areas they're particularly concerned about."

What's the best way for you to lose the wiggle, jiggle, and flap? With a total-body fitness plan that includes cardio, strength, and flexibility training. If you have specific fitness goals, check in with a fitness expert. She can help design your perfect workout.

Mike Ceja, Certified Personal Trainer/Sports Therapist, reviewed this article.



American Council on Exercise
Q: Why is the concept of spot reduction considered a myth?

Mike Ceja CFP Certified Personal Trainer/Sports Therapist, Lloyd Athletic Club, Portland, OR.