By Richard Saad
The concept of spot reduction is an impossibility that has been plaguing fitness enthusiasts for a very long time.
It seems like every time I meet a new client, I get asked the same question. They pinch off a piece of their stomach, arm or love handle and ask, “How do I lose this?” It has started to turn into one of those “if I had a dollar …” scenarios. For many trainers, it can be easy to forget that the pieces of information that we find to be second nature are often hidden secrets to most people. I, like many other trainers, have to remind myself that I was once in my client’s shoes — lost and confused with conflicting information and terrified to make a mistake in the process.
We all want the program that will take inches off our waist and lets us eat what we want, drink on the weekends and rarely go to the gym while achieving a herculean or supermodel figure. And while so many fitness and health companies prey on these ideas, I can tell you here and now that program does not exist. However, one of my favorite things about fitness, nutrition and training is that the process is more than worth it. Your results will speak for themselves, everyone will start coming to you for advice, and pretty soon, you’ll find yourself in the position of having that “hidden knowledge” and considering it second nature.
So why doesn’t spot reduction work? When we work out, eat and sleep, our body either needs fuel to perform or fuel to recover. When it runs out of fuel from the foods you’ve eaten that day, your body will start utilizing its “reserve energy” — fat stores — for fuel. The recovery process, put in a very simplified way, builds muscle from proteins, fuels muscle with carbs and burns excess fat from calorie expenditure.
However, just because your arms are sore, doesn’t mean that your body uses fat from your arms as fuel. The same goes for your legs, waist, back or any other area you may want to shrink. Your body just uses its fat stores overall, regardless of what body part you worked, in order to continue recovering and performing. Thus, doing 1,000 situps per day like Muhammed Ali, while extremely impressive, won’t do much for your midsection unless you are eating right, building muscle and recovering properly.
So next time you can pinch off more than an inch, assess your eating habits, make sure you have a good balance of cardio and resistance training and get your sleep schedule in order. Remember to be patient and work diligently, and the results will come. And if you’re lost about what to do, consider asking a professional or trainer for help, because it is better to get off on the right foot than to waste your time creating poor habits or following bad advice.
Richard Saad is a personal trainer and can be reached at 864.907.0214.