Spot Training, What is it?
Strictly speaking spot training doesn’t even exist as it is a fable that many people still believe in and follow religiously. It basically states that by training a specific part of your body you can reduce the body fat in that particular area. Unfortunately the world is a cruel place and so is the body and it doesn’t work like that.
The most common example of this is the abdominal muscles, it seems the most desired form is to have a flat tummy and the advice that normally goes with this is that you need to do crunches and sit ups. All lies! Yes you will work the muscle, which in turn will get stronger however the abdominal fat will not reduce.
Why won’t it work?
You have to understand the body first. Every part of you body is connected to another in one way or another and this is why you have to treat it as a whole.
Every time you make a lifestyle change it not only has an immediate effect but it has knock-on effects as well. For example you may go on a diet for aesthetic reasons and to fit into a pair of trousers (pants for our American friends – .) The immediate effect would be loss of weight, the knock-on effect would be the reduction of pressure on your heart and the health benefits so often seen by reducing your body fat %. Basically we store body fat when we have more calories than we use up. Our body fat is therefore stored energy, excess supplies that we didn’t need at the time.
The problem comes when we continue to eat in excess or an excess of the wrong foods, we continue to store the spare energy. Remember: you have not had to eat in a special way to decide where your body stores the fat, you have no control over the result: your genetics very kindly take care of everything and store it where they see fit. As a general rule where the body stores fat first will also be the last place you will be able to lose it from.
Hopefully now you can see that as we cannot decide where the fat is stored, it will be impossible to control which area the fat is taken from. Therefore doing crunches will not reduce the fat from the stomach directly.
So How do I Reduce the Fat?
As fat is stored energy then you need to use up more energy so that less fat will be stored. This needs to be done through your diet which is a huge subject and you will learn more on this through our diet section.
We are going to concentrate on the exercise side today. The bigger the muscle the more energy it will need, so this means two things: one, that the largest muscle groups in your body will use more energy when you use them than smaller muscle groups and two, that an increase of your general muscle size will use up more energy.
If we continue using our example of creating a flat tummy then the principle of spot training will focus on the tummy which is a very small muscle section compared to others. Being so small it means that it uses up small amounts of energy (or stored fat – .) and its affects on the fat around the tummy are going to be very small. However if you use a large muscle group like the legs which is the biggest group in the body then these will use up far more energy and a lot of it which will have much greater effect on reducing body fat %.
Exercising one part of the body to reduce fat in that area does not work! What does work is to treat the body as a whole, eat healthily, exercise the whole body especially the larger muscle groups like the legs to see the best fat reducing results. Training your legs can give you a flatter stomach.
I hope this has cleared a few things up for you and will give you more focus in your training. Good luck!