Tag Archives: spot reduction
We discuss the spot reduction myth in detail and explain why you cannot purposefully lose fat from a specific area of your body (such as your arms, stomach, thighs) by performing area specific exercise.
Jay, you state that spot reduction is not possible. Yet News.com.au say The scientists found their method could spot reduce troublesome areas such as legs and buttocks. when referring to the 8 second workout. This is new research and whilst it may be contradictory to other research, should still be considered.
Note: This is a follow-up question to The 8 second workout reported that most fat was lost from the thighs and buttocks. Does this mean you can spot reduce?
After studying advanced science at UNSW, I am very accustomed to scowring through scientific reports and scutinising them to no end. You are correct in saying that this was some research taken out recently. Before I go on, whilst I have tried to find the actual litterature on this experiment, it has apparently not yet been published. I have been to the UNSW website however which does have an overview on the experiment.
So anyway, it is important to realise that the scientists do the study. The journalists write up news reports. News reports are not always reported accurately and some minor details can be easily twisted. There are two major issues I have with the way in which this experiment has been reported:
a) This form of interval training is a revolutionary way for everyone to lose fat quickly. Quite simply, it isn't. I feel that this impication is complete negligence by the media. Sure it has the potential to be very, very effective if performed under the right circumstances. Someone who is 50kg overweight who has never stepped into a gym before would be very unwise to attempt this form of exercise. I cannot stress this enough - there are very serious health risks involved if not performed in a safe manner.
b) The spot reduction aspect. The study was not aimed at studying spot reduction. The study was aimed at determining the effectiveness of intermittent exercise (ie. interval training) versus steady state exercise (eg. going for a constant jog). They concluded that interval training was more effective - as has been shown in many studies before. They did not conclude that spot reduction is possible. Instead, their results showed that most of the fat was lost from the thigh and buttocks region. As far as I can tell, this journalist has obviously read into these findings and assumed that they found that spot reduction is possible.
Consider this. A guy with a beer belly. Little fat on his arms and legs and the most fat around his stomach. Males tend to store the most fat in the stomach area, so this isn't an uncommon scenario. Let's say he jumps on the bike and exercises 6 times a week. Over a period of several months he loses 10kg. I could say with 99% confidence that most of the fat would be lost from the stomach region, simply because there is little fat in the remainder of his body.
Finally, I completely agree with you that many studies contradict other studies. This is why text books go out of date so quickly. I even remember having a 3 year old textbook in uni that was rendered obsolete due to new research. If the scientists concluded that spot reduction was possible, then I would be reading that report (upon publication) and be very interested in their spot reduction findings. But they didn't. They only found that more fat was lost from the thighs and buttocks region.
In my opinion, the vast majority of products that you see on the television that are advertised to flatten your stomach are no where near as effective as what they claim to be (most of which I highly doubt are effective at all relative to a sound workout regime). There is very little (if any) scientific backing to many of these products. The main idea behind them is to generate profits by making outrageous claims that are simply too good to be true.
Consider how long these products actually last on the market. Years down the track they are taken off the shelves while something new and exciting replaces it. It's all marketing - the hype has died down because hardly anyone achieves any results. So in order to revive the hype, a new product is released. This is what is known as your fad product - they have been around for the last 30 years. Think about it, if these products really were that great then why on earth would they not render your basic (and proven) exercises obsolete?
The models on the commercials - of course they have been training for years upon years! I feel that it is heavily implied that they have only used this machine to attain a great figure...I can say with absolute certainty that this is not the case at all. If you ask them how they attained their physique, it would have most likely been through a more standardised program (ie. lifting weights combined with a sound diet and cardio routine). Not a fad product.
Sometimes the host actually goes outside and asks passers-by if they can "feel the muscle working". Whilst one may feel the abdominal muscles being used, this does not mean that it will assist the abdominal muscles to grow (or to burn a significant amount of fat either) - it simply means that they are being used...nothing more.
A flatter stomach is a result of losing fat for the majority of people (as most people wanting a flatter stomach are carrying excess fat). This is not achieved through a resistance based workout. It is achieved through a cardiovascular routine. Running, walking, sports, rowing, riding etc. A cardiovascular workout will burn a significant amount of fat in conjunction with a sound eating regime.
Many of these bogus products are based on the premise that it is possible to perform spot reduction (an old wives tail). The spot reduction myth is defined as choosing a specific section of the body to burn fat from. For example, if you carry extra fat around your belly, then the idea would be to perform situps to lose fat from the stomach area. The physiology of our bodies does not allow for this. There is zero scientific evidence that this is possible. Yet this belief is exploited by such companies time and time again.
I'd like to suggest reading an article I wrote regarding this topic: