Weight Loss Tip: Avoid Spot Training!
What do you think to do when you want to tone up your abs? Do crunches, and sit-ups, and a slew of ab exercises! But does this method really take you from a beer belly to six pack abs?
It’s a cool, rainy day here on Long Island, and I recently got the bad news that my softball doubleheader tonight was canceled. With the forecast looking more and more ominous as the day goes on, this was probably the right call…
That being said, me and a couple of my teammates are heading to the batting cages later tonight, so not all is lost! Am I a psychopath? I’ll leave that up to you to decide ;-)
Anyhow, back to why spot training is a foolhardy strategy that WON’T get you the toned arms, abs or whatever that you want…
I’m going to create an avatar of a person, and demonstrate through the facts at hand what’s what. Jane, a 42 year old woman, is looking to lose about 40 lbs. Her body fat percentage has been accurately measured, and she’s currently at 32%, which is 7% higher than the average female should be.
Her goals are to not only lose the excess weight, but to get her body fat back down into the 20–25% range, while toning up her midsection, which is her problem area. She begins a strict exercise program, focusing on mostly core work, and resistance exercises targeting her abs that ‘should’ make those muscles pop.
There’s only one issue: After a month, her midsection gets BIGGER!
She’s altered her diet, she’s consistent with her training, and yet, her belly now appears LARGER than it did prior to her starting her weight loss journey. What gives?!
Well, Jane’s problem area was her belly, which means that it had a good amount of excess fat stored. She’d mainly been targeting her abs, and as a result, she built a lot of muscle there. The problem was, she built muscle at disproportionate rate to which she was burning the excess fat, so, as a result, while her core was stronger and the muscles popped, they literally caused the rest of her midsection to pop out, as well!
The same thing can happen if you’re looking to tone up your arms. Let’s say your arms are your problem area, with the tricep region of your upper arms containing quite a bit of loose skin. You begin an arm-specific training program and clean up your diet, but after a month, the same thing that happened to Jane’s stomach happens to your arms: They look BIGGER and WORSE than before you started!
Listen — If you’re rehabbing from an injury, or you’re looking to build muscle, routines that target specific body parts are great! The error a lot of folks make when they aspire to tone a problem area that currently contains a lot of fat is that it’s not about building the muscles in that region to tone up — It’s about burning the fat in that region so that the muscle(s) you do have can finally show!
We all have six packs! The question is whether we’re able to burn enough fat around our abdominal muscles for them to show :-)
How do we go about burning the excess fat around our problem areas? Two ways:
1) Proper Nutrition. Memorize these two sentences to get that under control: “Eat meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no (added) sugar. Eat ONLY when hungry, and just to satisfy — NOT to stuff your face.”
2) Metabolism-Boosting Workouts. Interval training methods like Tabata, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and FIT can be done in the comfort of your own home with limited space and little-to-no equipment. These will also save you time, as you can get more work done in 20 minutes than most traditional gym-goers get done in two hours.
The cool thing about interval training is that your metabolic rate will be elevated for up to 72 hours POST-workout! This is why if you use a heart rate monitor or calorie tracker, you should NEVER be discouraged by what that shows if you’ve pushed yourself hard. Your metabolism will be revving long after you take it off and go about your next couple of days :-)
So if you were planning on doing that ‘Killer Arm’ workout program, it’s probably best to burn the fat FIRST before building some muscle and really making them pop.
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