It’s always been said that you can’t spot reduce a particular area on your body.
However, recent studies are showing that it is indeed possible to improve the fat loss from a certain area as part of an overall effective fat loss plan
This will only work as part of a program that is already working to reduce body fat. Such a program will consist of a healthy diet full of nutrients and an exercise program.
HOW DO WE SPOT REDUCE AN AREA?
There are 2 steps to increase the fat loss from a certain area. Let’s use the upper legs as an example.
- Complete a high intensity workout to get blood flowing in the thighs. A workout consisting of lunges, squats, bridges, RDL’s etc is going to be effective for this area. This part of the workout will need to be about 15-20 minutes long and must be high intensity. So you’re going to have to use some resistance, do lots of repetitions and/or go for longer sets. Or all of the above depending on your current fitness level.
- Within 5 minutes of completing the High Intensity part of your workout, you need to follow up with some low intensity exercise. This could be brisk walking or easy jogging/running if you’re fit enough to keep that at a low intensity. You want to be just breathing heavily but no where near puffing.
HOW DOES SPOT REDUCING WORK?
High intensity exercise (that which causes some muscle ‘burn’, fatigue, sweating and increased breathing rate) is great for releasing fat from fat cells. While this type of exercise will preferentially burn more carbohydrate than fat, fat is also used as a fuel source. However, the amount of fat actually utilised is low. The key to spot reduce is to make sure you really work the area you want to focus on.
Low intensity exercise works in the opposite manner. It is great at burning fat for fuel using little carbohydrate at the same time. It does burn energy (calories) at a much slower rate though you need to remember.
The idea behind the 2 step approach is that the high intensity workout will release the fat and the low intensity follow up will burn it before it is absorbed back into the fat cells for storage.
This is a great way to target an area as part of an overall plan. It is key that for this to work, you need to be following an effective fat loss nutrition plan or your body will not need to access the fat stored in the fat cells.
Someone eating the average Australian diet has plenty of circulating energy in the blood stream and stored in the muscles themselves and the liver as glycogen. Just exercising and not changing what you eat usually does not result in lots of fat loss beyond the initial period when you first begin.
If you’re still really overweight, you’re not going to notice much (if any) difference in a certain area. You need to reduce overall body fat first. But once you’re nearly there, you can target certain areas as part of an overall balanced training program and see a real difference.
WHY NOT JUST DO THE LOW INTENSITY FAT BURNING BIT?
Just exercising at a low intensity simply doesn’t burn enough energy (calories) to result in lots of fat loss. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of people who regularly do the same walk, jog or cycle outdoors or in the gym without getting any leaner.
Walking is a great way to start out, especially if you’re really unfit or very overweight. But you will reach a stage where it stops producing results fairly quickly. The only way to keep getting results with low intensity exercise is to go longer and longer.
Doing the shorter high intensity part first decreases the amount of time you need to get the same results. Which is a win-win for busy people like us.
WHY NOT JUST DO MORE HIGH INTENSITY?
One of the downsides to high intensity is that you can do too much, especially when first starting out. Even seasoned exercisers can fall prey to doing too much and not allowing their bodies to adapt and recover – usually resulting in illness and/or injury. Not to mention increasing levels of stress hormones meaning no more fat loss for them either.
Adding some low intensity exercise to the end of a training session actually helps recovery and does not increase the training load enough to cause illness or injury like adding more high intensity can.
HOW SHOULD I FIT THIS INTO MY PLAN?
- Improve what you eat first. Follow an effective and nutritious nutrition plan
- Start with about 3 exercise sessions per week of 45-60 mins each. If you’re very overweight and going it alone, I suggest low impact and starting with 20 mins or so. Initially the risk of injury can be high if you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing. Otherwise, follow a properly planned and modified high intensity program to reduce the time required to get results.
- Add 15 or more minutes of low intensity exercise immediately following 1 or more of your workouts to make sure you burn some more of the fat you’ve released in your workout once your body is used to your normal workouts.
This does not mean that you are not burning fat during your high intensity workouts. But adding the low intensity portion (instead of more high intensity) increases the fat burn without adding more stress to your body in terms of recovery. In fact, it can drastically reduce recovery time and lower stress hormone levels – again producing better results over time.
Side note: Almost anyone can start a program like FitterFaster’s training program regardless of fitness level or body weight. We have a specially designed progressive program that can be modified to suit even the most unfit person without doing too much too soon.
Give this a try and let me know how it works for you. And please, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to email me firstname.lastname@example.org
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