Can I spot reduce fat from my belly?
For as many times as the question has been asked, it’s almost always received the same answer: No! The idea of spot reduction was once an acceptable reality during the golden age of bodybuilding when giants like Arnold and Zane walked the stage. Then as exercise science advanced, spot reduction became a myth, and those hopes are targeting belly fat went up in smoke…until now.
New science and expert opinion might be turning around the idea of spot reduction. Let’s take a look at the science of spot reduction along with what you can do to target those stubborn fatty areas.
SCIENCE OF SPOT REDUCTION
If you want to spot reduce fatty areas – love handles for guys and belly or thighs for women – it’s all about blood flow.
If blood flow is weak to a certain part of the body, it becomes difficult to move nutrients, compounds, and, most importantly, fatty acids out of that area. Naturally, if your body can’t move stored fat out in an efficient manner, it’s not going to be using that fat as a fuel source – in other words, very little fat burning is occurring.
Studies suggest that the fattest areas on your body don’t get the same blood flow as the parts of your body with muscle. Here’s where the resurrection of spot reduction comes into play:
In one study, fatty tissue that was near activated muscle – or muscle tissue performing an exercise – saw a greater increase in blood flow and heat transference than fatty tissue that was near resting muscle. Researchers confirmed that “specific exercises can induce ‘spot lipolysis’ in adipose tissue.” (1)
In other words, by warming up the fatty tissue with exercise, you can promote proper blood flow to the area and support fat burning. With that said, it’s not as simple as putting a hot pad on your belly. There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to maximize your spot-reducing results.
HOW TO SPOT REDUCE FAT IN THREE STEPS
If you want to spot reduce fat, try using the following tricks:
Step One: Use a Shredding Belt
As we talked about above, the area with the fatty tissue is lacking in efficient blood flow. Heat has been shown to be a great way to stimulate proper blood flow. A slimming belt can quickly and effectively increase the heat transference to your stomach, love handles, thighs, or arms – all of which are notorious problem areas to spot treat.
We recommend wearing the shredding belt during your warm-up and exercises that don’t require you to bend where the belt is. Once you finish your workout, put the belt back on the problem area to keep it warm during the highest levels of excess post-oxygen consumption.
EPOC is when your body is using excess energy – usually stored fat – as it works hard to restore oxygen levels in the blood. The harder you trained in the gym, the higher your EPOC levels, and the more fat is potentially burned. Take advantage of elevated EPOC levels by using your shredding belt.
Step Two: Train Fasted
Studies show that training in a fasted state can help to mobilize stored fat as a fuel source better than when a pre-workout meal is consumed. Instead of focusing on the recently digested carbohydrates, your body will look towards fatty cells to power your workouts. (2)
We recommend skipping breakfast and heading straight to the gym. Water, black coffee, or plain tea is okay to drink before a workout. If you’re worried about losing muscle mass during fasted training, try a calorie-free (10 calories or less per serving) BCAA supplement.
Step Three: Use Direct and Indirect Exercises
Spot reducing fat doesn’t mean only performing 500 crunches then walking out of the gym in order to make your belly fat go away.
You need to look at this from a strategic point of view. Yes, you’ll want to perform direct exercises at the trouble areas, but you’ll also want to include indirect exercises for muscles surrounding the area you want to lean out. In other words, make sure you’re using a well-balanced workout program.
We recommend starting your workout with an exercise at the problem area, then moving on to several exercises for the surrounding muscle groups, and finishing where you started. For example, let’s say that your stomach is the place you want to spot reduce:
- Perform a 10-minute cardiovascular warm-up while wearing your waist trimming belt
- (Remove the belt) Abdominal Cable Twists: 3 sets of 30 repetitions
- (Put the belt on) Bench Press: 3 x 15
- Lat Pulldown: 3 x 15
- (Remove the belt) Medicine Ball Crunches: 3 x 20
- Put the shredding belt on for the next hour
BE REALISTIC WITH YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Making these three steps a part of your normal workout routine might help you get leaner in that problem area faster. With that said, it’s important to be realistic.
Don’t expect overnight results. Most importantly, don’t forget about nutrition. Your dietary choices make up the majority of the results you see in the mirror. Combine a healthy eating plan, comprehensive workout program, and these spot reducing tricks to see incredible results.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN SPOT REDUCING FAT?
Will you try the methods listed above to target stubborn fat deposits? Have you already tried them? Keep us updated on your results! Tag us in your before and after pictures on Instagram (@ironbullstrength).
- Stallknecht B, Dela F, Helge JW. Are blood flow and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue influenced by contractions in adjacent muscles in humans? Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Feb;292(2):E394-9. Epub 2006 Sep 19.
- Frayn, K. Regulation of fatty acid delivery in vivo. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 1998;441:171-9.