Spot Reduction a myth?!?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Homey, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. Homey

    Homey Rookie

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    OK. I have read from many people that you can not reduce fat in an area. For example your legs, or your belly.

    However, I think I have to disagree with this statement based on the following facts:

    I used to have a some body fat on my legs and my belly. I started cycling, and running about 18 months ago. I now have "ripped" legs but still a pudge on the belly. By cycling and running didn't I "spot reduce" the fat in my legs???

    Obviously I know my muscles in my legs are larger but didn't I reduce the fat there also???

    Your input is appreciated.
     
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  2. watermantra

    watermantra Rookie

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    I am under the impression that you can't "spot reduce" but your body sheds fat from certain areas before others. In men, the belly fat is, I understand, the last to go. And it is even harder to get off the older you get, in general. So in fact, you may have reduced fat all over, it has just not come off the belly yet.

    I do believe that spot reduction is a myth. Body fat corresponds to an over-all physiology, not the physiology of one area. So working your legs increases your metabolism, which is what decreases body fat. Your metabolism doesn't just increase in your legs, it increases all over.

    In addition, I'd have to see your body, but as a cyclist myself, I know that in the off season, my legs loose some of their muscle tone. This appears to be flab, when in reality, it is more of a muscle atrophy. That tone quickly comes back when I start riding again. You could be mistaking this lack of muscle tone for body fat.
     
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  3. NotAtTheNet

    NotAtTheNet Semi-Pro

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    First off congrats for taking a proactive approach to your fitness. About the spot reduction, think about it this way, you evenly reduced fat across the board on your body. But since all you did is cycle and run, your leg muscles got larger. What happens is the increase in muscle in that area displaces more fat. Its similar to this metaphor, you have a balloon, the balloon's surface is 1/20th of an inch thick. When you inflate the balloon, the skin of the balloon thins out to 1/50th of an inch thick. Same thing with your legs. If you used a body fat caliper when you started, you probably would of noticed change on your stomach area.

    Also some people just tend to have a tougher time losing weight in certain areas than others. I do an ab workout twice a day (roman chairs, various crunches, leg lifts) and trust me, theres no spot reduction... it took increasing my running distance and overall cardio to get some results on the belly.
     
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  4. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    I have yet to see a male with flabby arms and a ripped stomach. Visceral fat is largely a genetic atavism, an adaptation for storing calories. So, expect to lose it from your love handles and stomach last. That is the norm. It's relatively easy to lose fat from the extremities, as you've found out. But that isn't spot reducing. :)
    -Robert
     
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  5. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Fat doesn't necessarily distribute evenly across the body. Your genetics determine how fat is distributed and apportioned across the body. If everyone lost fat evenly across their bodies, then why do some people complain about flabby arms while others about love handles?

    Fat accumulates according to your DNA. Men typically don't accumulate as much fat on their thighs as women. Men accumulate primarily on the waistline, generally speaking.

    You can't spot reduce.
     
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  6. Homey

    Homey Rookie

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    Thanks!!!

    I new I would get some good responses here.

    Thanks again.
     
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  7. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    You absolutely can not spot reduce bodyfat, but what you're thinking of is spot gaining which can be done. Spot gaining has nothing to do with bodyfat, it has to do with gaining muscle in a specific area. You did a lot of cycling so your legs probably got more muscular. You're mistaking gaining some muscle, or spot gaining, as spot reduction, and it's clearly not the case. Don't be discouraged because you can't reduce bf in a specific area because the truth is that bf can be lost, you just can't control where it comes off from. The bf will eventually come off if you burn more calories than you take in.
     
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  8. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Spot reduction of fat actually is possible. However, to my knowledge, it can only be done surgically. In your case, you may very well have lost more body fat in your legs than you did in your gut. Did your overall body fat % decrease?

    Normally, the first place where your body stores excess body fat is the last place for your body to lose it. For males, this is normally the love handles and the gut. I suspect that this is where you body started storing much of its excess fat before you started noticing it in your legs. As you lose body fat, it would make sense that you would notice the greatest losses in the area where it showed up last.
     
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  9. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Note that a large gut ("beer Belly") may not be just about fat. If you go to bed with a large amount of food in your belly, this could stretch your gut since your stomach muscles are relaxed when you are asleep. I believe that those muscles also tend to be relaxed when jogging or running. The jogging action can possibly make a large gut worse if those muscles are relaxed.
     
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  10. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    What a ridiculous point to make.

    Of course it did.

    Please, i've never heard this, ever, ever, ever, and it sounds like one of the worst myths, a great reason for fat people not to jog!

    I'll stand corrected if I need to, however I can think of a million reasons it's wrong: stretch gut? food doesn't really make an impact on the size of the gut in anyone of any 'overweight' size, large gut worst due to MUSCLE stretching? I don't think so.
     
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  11. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Lighten up. Not meant to be taken seriously!

    Rhetorical question.

    Note that I mentioned these as possibilities. Would not be so dismissive of these ideas just because you've not heard it before. I do recall hearing these ideas a few years ago on the health segment of a couple of legitimate news broadcasts on TV. These segments are not infallible but, for the most part, are fairly reliable sources and not given to fostering urban myths.

    These ideas really are not as ludicrous as you seem to think.

    Even if these ideas don't have all that much merit, obese people are probably better off cycling or performing some other low-impact cardio rather than jogging. The impact due to jogging on the ankles, knees and hips would not be the best course of action for obese individuals.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2008
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  12. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    Ever heard of a smiley? Any clue to try and translate to people that you're trying to make a joke?

    I've trained as a fitness trainer / personal trainer in the past, I have a keen interest in fitness, etc etc - I've heard most of the crap myths that go around a dozen times over. Not hearing something before is a larger deal than for others depending on experience and context.

    For the record, and given you're chosing to go the pedantic route....while I'm noting things, you might note that I didn't simply dismiss these ideas because I'd not heard them before, as I clearly went on to explain some reasons as to their lunacy.

    Errm...ok.

    Make up your mind :D (you see, a smiley... indicates humour). Seriously though, they are pretty ludicrous, and unless some links to some studies or some-such, I'm calling mostly-crap on them, certainly from any physiology I know (or at least knew in the past).

    Yup, and grass is green, water is wet... and some other things we all already know are? ;) My point: Of course the things you say here are correct, however we know them all and have for some time, and simply as these facts are true in no way helps the original (and imho flawed) hypothesis.
     
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  13. ctdeuce

    ctdeuce Rookie

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    The reason that your other body parts are shedding fat faster than your stomach is because that is the hardest fat to lose on your body. The midsection loses slower than anywhere else in your body, thus making you still have flab there with other bodyparts looking thin or ripped.

    Spot reduction is not possible...no matter what kind of exercises you are doing. You can build muscle under your flab on your stomach by doing crunches and other core work...but you cannot reduce the fat there all the same.
     
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  14. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Women tend to lose the belly fat more quickly I've noticed, while the ass and thigh fat lingers.
     
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  15. ctdeuce

    ctdeuce Rookie

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    I like a little ass and thigh fat on women though :oops:
     
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  16. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    I like it on men.
     
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  17. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    We always knew, storm, we always knew.
     
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  18. ctdeuce

    ctdeuce Rookie

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    hahaha amazing.
     
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  19. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    I'm not gay. That's just where I like it on men. Come on guys.
     
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  20. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    Biggest myth ever is that doing ab work will shed off belly fat effectively. Ab work will increase mass of the abdominals if done with enough intensity as is with all of the muscles, some more than others, but ab work doesn't burn off enough calories to reduce body fat. Plain and simple.
     
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  21. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    What fools a lot of people is that their stomach feels tighter and flatter the next day after ab work, and they think they're burned some fat off. Really the only difference is that their abs are a little stronger and more activated and are pulling their stomach in. But another problem people make is that they read that doing crunches won't give them a six pack, so they stop doing them. Everyone should still do crunches - abdominals are very important for back support and core strength.
     
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  22. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    I'm not a big fan of crunches, but I do reverse crunches in a sense. I hang on a bar and raise up my knees. I find these very easy, but I have noticed that weaker people are afraid of slipping off while I can even do hanging leg raises after a back workout when my grip is at its weakest.
     
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  23. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Thou shalt use smileys to indicate humor!!! Sorry, not all of us feel compelled to punctuate every tongue-in-cheek & ironic statement with a smiley, rimshot, or trumpet fanfare. Take note, a little bit of subtlety will often suffice.

    Note that my "lighten up" request was a response to the antagonistic nature of your post (#10). The initial (cynical) remarks appeared to be completely superfluous. They attacked a pair of trivial, innocuous statements that I made. It felt to me as if it was calculated to demean & discredit nearly everything that I has to say in order to make your real points later.

    Not sure exactly what you are saying in this last paragraph. Of course the gut is stretched when a large amount of food is ingested. Don't see how you can deny that. (Note that you mentioned muscle stretching, not me).

    True, a potbelly is due, in large part, to excess visceral fat. However, numerous sources indicate that poor posture and weak transverse abdominus muscles are also factors in a "potbelly appearance". These weak ab muscles probably play a significant part in the theory that I passed along (in post #9).

    As I mentioned before, I picked up this info from televised sources some years back. Unfortunately, I do not recall the research they referenced for these claims. Nonetheless, these sources appeared to be fairly credible and the ideas, at the time, sounded very plausible. I do not know with absolute certainty if these ideas completely valid, but they still do seem plausible. While I cannot point you to the studies where the ideas originated, there are a number of sites on the web that pretty much say the same thing.

    www.weightloss-info.com/articles/48.shtml

    "One surprising fact is that jogging can actually exacerbate a potbelly. This is a result of the difficulty in holding your stomach in as you run. This actually serves to weaken the stomach muscles which, in turn, causes the stomach to distend."

    "When you go to bed with a full stomach this keeps your stomach muscles relaxed and stretched all night as you sleep. Over a period of years, this will lead to a potbelly."
     
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