The idea of spot training is that you can lose weight in a particular area of the body by using targeted exercises. It plays on our notions of trying to blast away belly fat or underarm fat in particular, which are attractive ideas. The problem is that this is a complete myth that needs debunking.
There is no scientific evidence to this idea. By doing one kind of exercise or another, you are not guaranteed to lose body fat from a specific part of the body. What you will do instead is start to lose fat from all parts of the body.
Here is how this myth gets started and perpetuates.
The Origin of the Spot Training Myth
Why do so many people believe that doing crunches will give you firmer, flatter abs? Why do people believe that doing pullups and pushups will get rid of fat around the underarms?
The answer is simple and logical. If you focus on a particular are of the body and that becomes a fixation for you, you will notice a difference there when a change occurs. So, if you are working out and paying close attention to your belly fat, you will start to notice when the belly fat begins to shed. You may think that is specifically due to the sit-ups you have been doing, and it could very well be. Those sit-ups are probably doing you good and probably getting rid of belly fat, but they are getting rid of fat in other areas as well.
You just don’t notice that because you are not paying as close attention to those parts. You might not notice that as you work out, your belly fat and your thighs’ cellulite are both disappearing. When you focus on one, you can fail to see the change in the other.
Did you know that simply lifting weights will help decrease leg fat? It’s true, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense to the average person. Let’s explain how this works and why spot training is a myth.
How Your Body Uses Fat
When you work out, your body needs to get energy from somewhere. It starts with the unprocessed energy in the body, like from the food you just ate. If there is energy to be used from that food, your body will start by using that first. It waits to use the food that has been turned into glucose, though. Your body uses that glucose energy before anything else, and food is turned into glucose quickly.
If the glucose isn’t used up as energy for some kind of activity that the body is doing, then that glucose becomes fatty deposits in the body. The more we eat that we don’t use, the more it stores up in the body, creating fatty deposits.
So, if there is no glucose floating in the bloodstream to use for energy, where does our body get the energy that it needs? It will use stored fat and start to use that up. This is why when you work out and when you lower your caloric intake, you start to lose weight and specifically to lose fatty tissues.
What happens then is that your caloric intake is less than the calorie or energy usage. Your body is using up more than it is taking in, and it has to draw from the fatty deposits. This is why people who are trying to lose weight to get fit will be very careful about what they eat.
Spot Training Debunked
Spot training states that you can decide which parts of the body the fat comes from when it is used as energy. This notion states that when you move your arms, then arm fat is used up. What about when you wiggle your nose? Is there nose fat that is used? Do your toes become thinner when you wiggle them a lot? We are being ridiculous, of course, but think about a part of your body you move a lot- your fingers. They should be skinner than other parts of the body if you use them all the time for typing and texting, right? That’s not the case, though. Your fingers’ width and fattiness or thinness is a direct reflection of the rest of your body. You have never seen a person with very thin finger but an obese rest of the body.
Why is spot training a myth? It’s because you cannot decide where fat comes off of your body when you exercise. No matter how many crunches you do or sit-ups you do, you will not pull more fat from your abs than from your thighs or underarms. You cannot decide where the fat comes from and you cannot target it. All the scientific evidence points to that conclusion.
What your body will do when it needs energy but doesn’t have any glucose running around in the bloodstream is to take it from fatty deposits in the body. You cannot decide which deposits are used, and the body does a pretty good job of using from all deposits equally. This is why, if you pay attention, you will see that you lose weight about equally from all areas of the body at once. This is demonstratable. If you measure your waist, your things and your arms and keep working out, over a period oof days and weeks, you will notice that all three of them change. That’s true even if you are just doing one kind of exercise that supposedly targets a specific part of the body.
You know why is spot training a myth, now, and let’s talk about how you can actually target certain parts of the body.
Targeting Specific Body Part Shape
So, you want to make a specific part of your body look better and don’t want to waste all of your time making the entire body better? That’s understandable if you have limited time to work with, if you don’t like working out, or you just have a few trouble areas that really bother you.
We all have those parts of our body that we are not especially proud of and wish that we could change. How do you target them specifically?
Let’s you an example for illustration purposes to help you understand how to better target specific areas. Have you ever broken a limb and had it in a cast for a few months? What happens when you take the cast off? You can tell that this limb looks less developed than the one next to it. The arm or leg can look thin and weakly. That’s because you have been going easy on it and hardly using it. The fat is probably about the same, but the muscles will be different.
The same thing happens if you work out one arm but not the other. Or if you do a lot of weightlifting but never go running, you may see this principle in action. Your arms can develop much faster than your legs.
What happens is that the parts of your body you work will develop muscles. The parts that don’t get worked will not have as developed muscles. It has nothing to do with fat. That comes off as you exercise but cannot be targeted. You can target muscles, though.
By working your arms, you can build them up and tone them. You will develop the musculature there and help to achieve the look you are going for.
This needs to be coupled with diet too, as you can target specific areas of the body with your diet. You can target muscles with protein, and you can target fat by cutting back on sugar, carbs, and fat. You can target your belly by eating probiotics and lots of fiber and cutting down on carbs and fats.
There are ways that you can target specific parts of the body, but it is not by spot training. You won’t be getting rid of specific deposits of fat, but you can through exercise lower your overall body fat and become fitter and healthier.