Thanks largely to the media and hype within the fitness industry, many people believe that it is possible to make certain bits of themselves less fat through specific targeted exercise. This “spot reduction” is promised by lots of adverts and “celebrity” fitness programmes seen in your favourite gossip mag. Unfortunately it does not work, and any personal trainer worth their salt will be able to explain this.
For an example, let’s look at the “lots of sit-ups a day will give me a flat tummy” syndrome. Sit ups or crunches are a worthwhile exercise, provided you have correct form and timing. But our body is one single mechanism, and will only start to reduce fat if put into an energy deficit, or if you are eating less calories than you are expending. Once this deficit is achieved, the body will begin to use fat from all over, not just the place being exercised. So if you are doing 100 sit-ups a day, but eating too much, although you will be toning your abdominal muscles a little bit, they will still be covered up by your fat suit, and so invisible. Resistance training (like crunches) does increase lean muscle mass, and so increases calories burned overall, but the abdominal wall is a thin fascia of muscle, so toning this alone will only have a negligible effect on the overall system. You would be better off doing weighted squats in the toning range (12 to 14 repetitions so that the last few are getting really hard) for a flat tummy. Have a look at the resistance training section in the knowledge. Even with the squats, if you are still putting in more food than you are putting out in terms of energy, your toned legs or tummy will still be covered up by your fat suit. If you are on the burgers then your fat suit will get even bigger!! The only way to have a flat tummy is to do an integrated exercise programme, and also to eat less; that way over time your fat suit will diminish and reveal the toned you underneath. Furthermore you will also remove fat from all the other places too, so revealing toned legs, arms, face, the lot!!