The Fat Series – Can you spot reduce fat?

In this four part series I am going to be talking about all things fat. In today’s blog I’m going to go discuss the hotly debated topic of whether or not we can spot reduce fat. That is… burn fat from a certain area of our choosing.

The Fat Series - Can you spot reduce fat?

Resistance exercises don’t burn fat in the area that’s working

Here’s what is common knowledge, so I don’t need to be the bearer of bad news… doing 100 sit ups is not going to make you burn fat across your abdomen and reveal your 6-pack; or at least, not necessarily! We are pretty much all clued up on this; you can’t spot reduce fat.

As a Personal Trainer, I regularly have people coming to me saying they want to burn fat from their upper arms/stomach/thighs, but so far the tricep dips just haven’t been giving them the results they desire. Correct. That’s because when your body burns fat, it doesn’t burn it in that localised area that you are working. You will burn the fat where it is most readily/easily available for your body to use.

Increased blood flow to an area may encourage fat burn

This doesn’t mean that all is lost and you should give up squatting in the hope to burn fat from your thighs. A 2007 study published in the “American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism” [1] found that by doing very high reps of a certain exercise, the blood flow to that area was increased and as such fat use for energy was higher in the area surrounding the working muscles.  It seems that by combining high rep, area specific exercises with high intensity interval training, you may be just that little step closer to achieving the fat spot reduction dream. So –  you can increase the blood flow to the area with resistance exercises, and then force your body to burn fat with the high intensity training.

Try a HIIT and resistance workout such as this if you’re looking to target fat from your lower body.

Try this workout

After a warm up:

Sprint for 30 seconds as fast as you can

Recover walk for 1 minute

Repeat 3 times

Do squats for 2 minutes

Sprint for 30 seconds as fast as you can

Recover walk for 1 minute

Repeat 3 times

Do alternate reverse lunges for 2 minutes

Sprint for 30 seconds as fast as you can

Recover walk for 1 minute

Repeat 3 times

Do squat jumps for 2 minutes

Sprint for 30 seconds as fast as you can

Recover walk for 1 minute

Repeat 3 times

Do lunge jumps for 2 minutes

Cool down and stretch

Now that’s intense! But if you do it regularly, you might just start to see some improvements.

There are many ways that we can encourage our body to burn fat, even if we can’t really spot reduce fat. And if we combine a series of techniques, eventually you will lose fat from the area you desire and you can reveal your had worked for, toned muscles! So the key here is not to lose motivation and give up, because your target area may be the very next place your body chooses to burn fat from!

Next week I will be looking in to what it means to ‘burn’ fat, and the different energy systems involved. So stay tuned!

And if you want to know more about exercising and eating to burn fat, be sure to check out the rest of The Fat Series.

 

  1. Stallknecht, B., Dela, F., & Helge, J. (2007). Are blood flow and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue influenced by contractions in adjacent muscles in humans? AJP: Endocrinology and Metabolism, 292(2), E394-E399.

 

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