SPOT REDUCTION: MYTH OR FACT?
We all see that person in the gym doing hundreds of reps of abs in the gym, but is it effective? This has been one of the most famous debates in bodybuilding, and as a trainer this has been one of the most frequently asked questions.
I often hear, "How do I lose this under my arms?” or “How do I tighten my thighs?". Can doing endless tri’s and thighs help that person out?
There are those that believe when a muscle is worked, it creates heat. That heat then in turn accelerates the fat being burned in the targeted area.
There are people that believe ingesting or even topically applying caffeine or yohimbe (because of their thermogenic properties) increases the rate of fat being burned. I can understand the “theoretical science” behind the fact that ingesting coffee can raise your overall metabolism, but am I going to dump a cup of joe all over myself?
In my humble opinion and training experience, it all boils down to creating lean muscle tissue and lowering your overall body fat through clean eating and hard training.
Let’s take a look at this process in a shorter, fairly scientific description rather than making this a twenty page biochemical analysis. Let us also, for looser terms, call the first part the “Muscle Building Stage”, and the second part the “Fat Burning Stage.”
During the “Muscle Building Stage,” i.e. resistance training, your muscle tissues are damaged. After different variables such as food and rest, your muscle tissues repair themselves and grow. This process is known as Hypertrophy. This is what is typically referred to as “toning”.
In the fat burning stage, fat cells are broken down to provide energy. After long bouts of resistance training or any strenuous exercises for that matter, glycogen levels in the muscles begin to lower. Once this happens the body begins to take available sugar in the blood and converts it to glycogen. At this point, once the glucose levels drop, the body begins to break down available stores. These stores however are not just fat, but also muscle. Once the breakdown of fat occurs, Glucagon is released from the Pancreas, and NOT the specific area being worked, disproving the theory of spot reduction.
In the instance of spot training abdominal muscles for example, the result of your abdominal work is that your muscles have now grown. From this growth your abdominals now protrude more which gives the illusion that the area is now "leaner".
I personally know people that have abs with crevices you can stick your fingers in that do limited to zero abdominal work. Their physiques came from focused, methodical eating and training.
I hope you enjoyed my first of many blogs to come for VPX, and look forward to your thoughts and comments.
- Marc Siegel
This is a guest post written by Marc Siegel, a Master Trainer at New York Sports club and owner of Quantum Performance Training. He holds multiple licenses through the National Academy of Sports Medicine including: Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Performance Enhancement Specialist. Marc is Titlist Performance Certified, as well as TRX Certified. In an effort to further his education in the fitness world, Marc is currently enrolled in the Nutrition Specialist and Special Populations courses.