Can you spot reduce body fat?


I instruct a few toning classes throughout the week, good old LBT (or legs bums and tums if you’re not in the know) and body tone which targets the whole body. During these sessions we use body resistance, bands and free weights to tone and strengthen muscles. But (or is that Butt?) by doing just these session alone will not spot check a problem area.

Read any celeb magazine and the toned celebrity will swear blind that they owe their amazing abs to doing 4000 sit ups a day. Call me cynical but I think they’re not telling the truth….

The queue for the inner/outer thigh is about 2 hours long in any gym at any given time, surely if you load the resistance so that you can just about move your legs you will melt away the fat around your thighs?

Just by doing lunges apparently will shift your buttocks higher up and give you a pert neat backside? If this is the case I’ve done so many lunges in my career that my bum should be on top of my head by now!!!

I once had a women ask me how she could get rid of her vinegar arms? Having never come across this disability before I asked what it was; she told me that her arms wobble when she puts vinegar on her chips and how could she stop this from happening?  It doesn’t happen often but I was lost for words….

A quick lesson

We need fat for warmth, protection of vital organs, fuel and to absorb some vitamins, it is an essential part of our being. The problems start when we store too much of it. We are not in control of where the fat chooses to accumulate. Have a look at your Mum or Dad; do they carry their fat around their bum? Is this where you have yours? You can thank them later.

When you want to lose weight from a particular area it would be great if you could have a word with your brain and say I want to lose a half stone from my bum and thighs but please don’t take any from my boobs as I’m quite happy with them or I want to lose my belly fat but please don’t make my legs look scrawny? Nature is cruel at times and your brain is laughing at you…

When you lose weight it will come off of the whole body. Someone said to me last week that she’s lost 18lb in weight and was amazed that her feet have shrunk and she now takes a shoe size smaller. Why is this so surprising? Are feet not a part of the body and immune to getting fatter?

Not for one minute am I suggesting you stop doing resistance training, if you want to lose weight and change an area the opposite is true; you need to do more progressive resistance training. By this I mean that you need to gradually increase the weights that you use so that you will increase muscle fibres over the whole body which will in turn increase your metabolic rate or the rate at which your body burns calories.

Resistance training will also strengthen and tone muscle, think of body fat as a coat, underneath that coat is a lovely outfit, you just need to lose the coat so that the outfit can be seen. While you are burning off fat you are working on getting the body toned.

You will also need to do some cardio-vascular exercise. Interval training is great for burning fat; walk / jog at a normal pace for 1 minute then power walk/ sprint for 2 minutes for 20 minutes as well as some  20- 30 minute endurance sessions at a moderate pace will make  a difference.

Exercise alone won’t do it; you have to eat sensibly too.

A frequent problem I see is that people who are following a weight loss course have set weight loss targets and they are rewarded for reaching these goals. While I can see the benefits of an award system for motivation it also creates confusion for people who are physically active as well as on a weight management course.

Fitness instructors are more concerned with body composition than what the scales say. But, if on one hand people are being told that they are gaining weight and they shouldn’t exercise   as they will not reach their target weight and on the other hand they are being shown that the reason that they are not reaching their target weight is because they have increased their muscle and decreased their body fat what are they going to do? Who is giving them the right advice?

I would offer this advice; to lose weight and keep the weight off isn’t achieved by food alone, exercise is important, increasing muscle mass and decreasing body fat is the healthy way to lose weight. This isn’t just for cosmetic purposes, the health benefits are huge, Inactivity is globally the 4th biggest killer, we are designed to move!

I have a customer on our Boditrax Project (see earlier- blog  What are you made of) He is very over weight and finds exercise and controlling his eating difficult. He came in today for a Boditrax scan to see how he has been getting on. Before he had the test he was preparing me for bad news, he was firing excuses at me as to why he won’t have lost weight – he went to three Birthday celebrations and three barbeques over the weekend.  He was right, he hadn’t lost weight but over the last six weeks he has lost two kg in body fat and put on five kg of muscle.

Am I concerned he didn’t lose weight? No. Am I happy with the results? Very.

So, good people, as we have discussed in other blogs, you are what you are. You have a basic blue print when you are born of the shape that you are going to be all curtesy of the people who created you. By keeping your body fat to a healthy level and keeping your muscles toned and strong you will be making the most out of what you’ve been given to work with but you can’t target specific areas I’m afraid.

Oh, and ditch the chips to prevent vinegar arms….

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