Can I target fat loss in specific areas of my body?
Updated: Jul 6, 2019
It is impossible to choose one area of your body from which you will lose weight, or more importantly body fat, exclusively. Body fat in certain areas of the body though can be associated with certain problems. Abdominal obesity is related to high insulin levels and high levels of body fat in the upper back (subscapularis) can be an indicator of carbohydrate intolerance.
The problem is people have been deceived and misinformed for so long in the fitness industry through infomercial products, magazines, and supplements that they believe that they can train a certain body part to make body fat go away in that area. I often see guys doing cable cross overs because they think it will bring out cuts and definition in their chest or women doing the hip abductor/adductor (thigh machine) because they think it will reduce the body fat in their thighs. This is impossible to do. The only thing that brings out cuts, definition, or tone (which actually has nothing to do with low body fat but people love to use that word anyways) is loss of body fat, period. You can train your abdominals till you are blue in the face but if they are covered in layers of fat it will do you no good. If you are following a strict nutrition program (like the Eiden Principles) and participating in a consistent weight training program you will begin to lose body fat over your entire body, including the stubborn fat areas.
How can I look better in a swimsuit?
While you can't target your abdominal region specifically to lose weight, you can focus on lowering your overall body fat by following a strict and consistent nutrition and weight training program. Most people believe that to lose body fat they need to do countless hours a week of aerobics by slaving away on the treadmill, stairmaster, elliptical machine, etc. Weight/strength training is a much more powerful tool for losing body fat than aerobics but unfortunately most people make the mistake of choosing aerobics over weights or doing a lot of aerobic work in combination with their weight training program. Long duration, high frequency aerobics can actually prevent you from losing body fat, especially the stubborn body fat areas, by elevating your cortisol (a catabolic hormone that breaks down muscle) levels and compromising your ability to build muscle. Do you ever notice that most marathon runners never have that great, lean, muscular, athletic look? The high amount of aerobic or cardiovascular work has compromised their ability to build muscle by elevating their cortisol levels to high levels. This prevents them from building or even retaining a significant amount of muscle and prevents them from getting their body fat levels to the low levels that give one that attractive swimsuit look. Now compare a marathon runners physique to that of a sprinter who has a lean, muscular, athletic look. Sprinters do high intensity, interval training that is anaerobic in nature.
Their total amount of training volume is low compared to a sprinter and the high intensity levels they achieve in their sprints allows their body to elevate anabolic (muscle building, fat burning) hormones. This is why I never advise my clients do traditional aerobic work. Instead I have them focus on high intensity, low duration, interval training cardiovascular work that is much more anaerobic in nature than aerobic. The duration of my clients anaerobic, interval training can range from as little as 8 to 10 minutes and rarely exceeds 20 minutes. The key is getting the intensity up and interval training (sprint, walk, sprint, walk, etc.) is one of the best ways to get the intensity up. This is what cranks up your body’s fat burning mechanisms and hormones and keeps them elevated for hours and hours later. I like to use the example of 2 cars driving with my clients to explain how this works. If you have one car going 20 miles an hour (compare that to walking) and another going 80 miles an hour (compare that to sprinting) and they both let their foot off the gas the one going 80 miles an hour will travel a lot further and a lot faster than the one going 20. This is very similar to the way your body’s fat burning mechanisms and hormones work when exercising.
What is the best exercise to lose body fat?
The best type of exercise to lose body fat is weight/strength training. Like I stated earlier, high intensity, anaerobic, interval training is also a great way to lose body fat by elevating your body’s fat burning mechanisms and hormones for hours after exercise. Even with the best exercise program you will still not be able to lose body fat if you do not follow a strict and consistent nutrition program.
So those products can't really give me better abs?
Supplements will be of little or no help if you are not following the correct nutrition or diet program. There are some supplements that can mislead the consumer into believing that all they have to do is take the supplement and they will lose body fat and get the results they are looking for. There are some supplements (fish oil, blood sugar control supplements like R-alpha lipoic acid, chromium, and gymnema) that may be of assistance and help but the extent to which they contribute to someone losing body fat and getting in great shape is often times not nearly as much as what they lead the consumer to believe. The key to great abdominals is low body fat and that is accomplished through a combination of the right type of exercise, proper lifestyle habits such as getting enough sleep and minimizing stress, and most importantly following a strict, consistent, and correct nutrition program.
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