Is It Possible To Spot Reduce A Body Part Fat Content?

November 27, 2012

Spot reduction is the idea that if you work a specific muscle group you’ll be able to decrease the amount of fat in that area. As if there is a way to target one specific area of your body, such as your abs, your thighs, or even your bum and make all the fat disappear in that area just by doing one exercise.
As appealing as it sounds (and as much we would love for this to be true) spot reduction is, however, a misguided notion.

Truth is, you’ll never get a six-pack just by doing crunches and planks. Not even if you do 1,000 crunches a day, or hold your elbow plank for 10 minutes. Sure, you’ll develop a strong core and abs, but those won’t show up until you have fat on your belly covering them.
As a matter of fact, you can’t just take the fat and burn it right where it’s stored.
When your body burns fat, it doesn’t take it from a specific part, but a tiny bit from all over the body.
By doing 200 crunches, you’re using some fat from your waistline, some fat from your hips, some fat from your butt, and so on.
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no close relationship between the muscles and the fat that surrounds them. Muscle and fat are two different tissues which are completely independent of each other.
If you want to lose fat on your belly, you need to lose it anywhere else in your body. In doing so, you will decrease stored fat throughout your entire body, including the targeted areas.

Some further facts...

You might notice that your body sometimes loses fat in some areas more quickly than in others. This is caused by a genetic selective patterns, and has nothing to do with a particular type of exercise.
Not all hope is lost, though. A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Physiology
found that lyposis (i.e., the breakdown of fat) tends to be generally higher in fat stored closer to contracting muscles rather than resting muscles. As if the body fat is preferentially used from area being trained.
However, the study was very limited (just 10 men), involved only the quadricep muscle of one leg - an area in which men genetically do not stores considerable amounts of fat - and the margins were so slim to draw any conclusive evidence.  


It would be fantastic if there was a way to target one area of your body and make the fat in that area disappear by doing one specific exercise. Unfortunately, it’s never this easy.
What you really need to do is to reduce your overall body fat content.
First of all, watch your diet and limit your calories. Then do some fat-burning cardio sessions (a mix of slow and high-intensity training) paired with strength training.
While the cardio will get your heart rate up, strength training adds muscle mass to your body. The two combined they will decrease your body fat and increase your lean muscle mass, which will lead to that "toned" look everybody wants.

The Iron You


  1. This is very interesting. Need to talk about it with my trainer...