The “Belly Fat Problem” And Spot Reduction Myth Exposed

belly fat  - spot reduction mythEver went to the gym and while you were doing some NO BS routine, getting through the workout, finishing it and the guy next to you is still doing every kind of abdominal exercises that you can think of ?

If you were like me and went to ask him why is he doing all this ab work, give him some advice so you can get that poor gym fellow off the ab machines, into the squat rack, probably, the answer you received was somewhere along the lines “ I want to get rid of the belly fat and love handles”.

He listened to what you had to say but all in vain because after you went in the locker room to change, that guy was still there doing his abs thing.

Examining The Spot Reduction Idea

All this spot reduction refers to the general idea that an exercise or a combination of several exercises/moves done to a specific area (think of abs) will reduce the bodyfat from that area and make it leaner.

There are so many people involved in this spot reduction dogma that you will still see this myth thriving even 5-10 years from now with people doing countless abs and/or hip/thigh exercises hoping that by doing these long and painful work, all the fat in the mid-section area will be sent to oblivion.

The vast majority of the victims are women.

First, we will do some logic thinking before we dive into research:

If all this spot reduction myth worked in the first place, you would see fat people having six pack abs in the gym because of all the grueling work they did or people eating sandwiches for years would have their face skinny because of all the fat oxidized around that area.

Spot reduction huh ?

Diving Into Research

Too many people that are advocating that spot reduction is possible are citing studies that examined exercise induced lipolysis.

The above study concluded: “Specific exercises can induce spot lipolysis”

So why is this conclusion wrong and why the right answer is that the spot reduction myth is just absurd and is fundamentally a physiological impossibility ?

This study looked at two possible ways in which you can lose fat: lipolysis (fat breakdown) and blood flow (for transporting the broken fat to tissues for burning it).

Are specific local muscle contractions impacting lipolysis or local blood flow in fat cells ?

In this study, blood flow and lipolysis were increased in exercised legs vs non- exercised legs at lower intensities (higher exercise intensities showed no change).

So far so good …

The thing is that the fat being mobilized from an area (lets assume abdominal area) can’t be used for fuel by the muscles under the fat because the blood flow of fat cells and skeletal muscle is separated and the fat mobilization from an area will go to local circulation so it can’t be specifically used by that local muscle.

So if the local muscle that’s being worked can’t use the local mobilized fat, then we just got our study/myth busted. But as all myths need a closer look, we shall continue busting this!

What researchers didn’t specified is that there is an interesting process going on with the unburned fat that was mobilized.

In case the mobilized fat isn’t burnt off, the body stores it back into fat cells.

What is true in this study is that local exercise increased fat cell lipolysis and blood flow but let’s see what’s the full impact of this.

The question is: How much fat was mobilized into circulation ?

The answer as you can see in the research study is at least ridiculous and I say that because the researchers estimated that 30 minutes of local exercise mobilized 0.6 – 2.1 mg ( milligrams ) of adipose tissue.

Milligrams you say ?

That is right. I’ll repeat: 0.6-2.1 milligrams of fat per 100 grams of adipose tissue.

To put it more into perspective, let’s make some simple calculations:

Let’s say you have 10 kg of abdominal fat ( 22 lbs )

Local exercise mobilizez 0.6-2.1 mg of fat/100 g of fat mass

0.6-2.1 mg/100 g X 10000 grams = 60 – 210 milligrams of fat.

So for 30 minutes of activity for a person carrying 10 kg of abdominal fat, the total fat mobilized was a maximum of 0.2 grams of fat. The thing is that 1lb of fat contains approximately 400 grams of fat so 10 kg of fat contains 8.880 grams of fat.

Imagine how much it would take you to get all 10 kg of fat down and how many billions of abs you should do in the gym.

That being said, share this no bs exposing of this myth with everyone you know and help them get rid of countless abdominal exercises.

What is your story?

How many abdominal exercises or ab sets/repetitions you did weekly/daily before finding out that they can’t really give you six pack abs without a proper diet in place and how you tackle with them now?

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  1. Maria Crin says:

    Damn… I’ve been doing like 10 sets of 20 abs every time I went to the gym.. good to know that I can’t make my abdominals appear like that. Thanks Florin, you are most helpful!

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