Spot reducing body fat has long been a promise of the latest fad, be it a new exercise, diet, workout tool or trainer promise.
Is it real? Thankfully, science can provide a conclusive answer.
For those not familiar with the term, spot reduction means the removal of subcutaneous body fat stores from specific areas of the body by performing exercises that target those areas. For example, a person who has a higher amount of fat stored on their sides above the hips (“love handles”) may use a side-bend or an abdominal side-to-side twisting exercise in the attempt to reduce the fat cells in that area.
Researchers in Chile completed a study to determine if fat spot reduction was effective. The study analysed the effects of an exercise program on the total body and specific areas of the body.
The test group exercised their non-dominant leg on a leg press device over a twelve-week period. Three sessions per week were used and each consisted of one set of repetitions using a resistance equivalent to 10-30% of their one-repetition maximum (1RM).
Before and after training the following measurements were taken:
- Body mass
- Bone mass
- Bone mineral density (BMD)
- Lean mass
- Fat mass
- Body fat percentage
Additionally, energy intake was documented with a diet recall questionnaire.
At the end of the exercise program, body fat mass decreased by 5.1%, however, the bulk of fat loss was from the upper body, as that’s where there was a higher % of fat to begin with.
There was no significant difference in fat mass or lean mass between the trained leg and the control leg across the test subjects.
What does this mean for you?
- Save your money and don’t buy devices, programs or any other gimmick which promises to reduce fat in a specific area.
- Training programs that do incorporate high reps on any exercise, whether it’s total body (burpees) or a specific muscle group (leg extensions) can be effective in reducing fat mass, but the fat loss will be over the entire body. Contingent, of course, on caloric intake.
- An experienced fitness professional can provide you with engaging and effective workouts which do have a higher effect on overall fat loss.
If you’re pressed for time, you can schedule a live 1-1 workout with an online personal trainer using Welcome Fit. Your trainer will be able to tailor your workout to your specific requirements. Click here for more information.