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Can You Spot Reduce Fat?

Miracle or Myth?

Posted by JoeHurricane - May 4th, 2015

Let’s be honest, at one time or another, we have probably all looked at ourselves in the mirror and thought “I need to lose fat right there”. It might be your chest…it might be your tricep…it might be your glutes…or, most common of all, it might be your stomach. But can you really target a specific area of body fat and burn it off? We’d all like to believe it’s possible, but the sad truth is, it’s not.

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The Human Body

The human body is pretty complex, and it can do a lot of things. Whether it’s lifting weights, inventing new and exciting things, or even reproducing, the human body is capable of some amazing things. However, a lot of the things your body does, believe it or not, are pre-programmed, if you will. I mean you might think you’re telling your body to do something, but in reality it’s the other way around – your body tells you what to do.

Fat & Your Body - Where Does It Go?

That’s where the fat burning dilemma comes in. Fat is spread all over your body in the form of adipose tissue, which is generally a storage area for lipid molecules. Whether you are 20% body fat or less than 10%, you are going to have some fat in various areas of your body. For men, you can generally assume the first places to store fat are going to be the stomach and upper arms. That’s why you see more ‘apple-shaped’ males. For women, you can generally assume the first place to store fat will be the hips, thighs and buttocks. That’s why you see more ‘pear-shaped’ females.

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Can I Decide Where Fat Goes?

The simple answer is no. When you put fat on, there is no way to determine where it is going to go. Your body picks a spot, any spot, at random, and stores fat. Once you have fat cells, remember, there is no way to ever get rid of them (except liposuction). This means the first place to store fat will be your current fat cells. Once they’re full, the body will need more cells to store fat, and you know what that means…more fat cells, and these new ones might pop up in a totally unrelated place to the first lot. The more fat cells you have, the harder it will be to lose weight.

Should I Do Endless Exercises To Target My Fatty Areas?

Simple answer again here – NO. Now, I am not saying ignore your fatty area completely. I am saying DON’T go into the gym and hammer your abs, then go home and do another 100 crunches every night before you go to bed to burn your belly fat. It just won’t happen. Will it build muscle? Probably, but that muscle isn’t going to be visible until you lower your body fat percentage. Also, if you increase the size of your muscles but don’t lose any body fat, you will look bigger, sure, but just as fat as before too.

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What Should I Do? The best Way To Burn Fat!

Get yourself on ameal plan. If you don’t know how many calories you are getting each day, and where those calories are coming from, that is a real problem. If weight loss is your only goal, then you can safely assume you should be in a caloric deficit. If you want to lose fat and gain muscle, check out this article for more info. Don’t forget to include some HIIT cardio too – it increases your heart rate and boosts your metabolism even after you have finished your workout.

They say abs are made in the kitchen. Well, guess what, a chiselled physique is made in the kitchen too. The sooner you can clean up your diet, the quicker those fat levels will drop. Intermittent Fasting is something you should consider too. Our bodies store fat cells so that if we ever get into a situation where we have no food, no carbohydrates for energy, then we can dip into our fat storage. Even by going without foot for 16 or so hours, you can still make the body think it needs to use fat for energy.

You should also be doing exercises to target that specific area. Yes, I already said you shouldn’t go OVERBOAD, but you should still be trying to tighten up whatever area of your body is looking the most ‘pudgy’. The tighter and more toned a muscle is, the more definition you will see as your fat levels drop. If you don’t work on that muscle, because you are afraid of simply ‘pushing out your fat’, you will end up disappointed. Once you drop down to a desirable body fat percentage, you may still think you are fat because there is no muscle definition or density. It can mess with you head, and make you think you are still fat despite having a single-digit percentage.

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You can’t spot reduce fat. If you have a bit of belly fat, and are spending most of your workouts doing crunches, you aren’t going to see that fat magically disappear. If you have some tricep fat, and you are spending all day doing dips and tricep extensions, the same applies. Where fat loss occurs is determined by the body, you have no say in the matter. How and when fat loss occurs…that is up to you. Treat your body right with a healthy diet and regular exercise, and your body will treat you back.

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Comes down to proper nutrition, knowing how your body reacts to each type of macros, and tossing in exercise BOTH cardio and weights ... guy at work does cardio 60 minutes every day for past 2 years and can't figure out why he still has a gut.  Great article.

JoeHurricane  Edit  Delete  Close

Glad you liked it @gmdgeek! I'm sure we would all like it if we really could spot reduce fat :D


You could always visit a doctor for spot reduction but it might get expensive ^^


We see this question at least 5 times daily! Very nice explanation  and myth busting!

Just a reminder to the readers : Blue (underlined) phrases are hyperlinks taking you to other sections of this website. Click on 'em!

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

I agree Kostas, it's a myth that is blown out of proportion by drug users and companies that sell products that "spot reduce" fat.  Great job @joehurricane!