Fitness Myths #1

When I first meet with a client to discuss his/her fitness goals, very common requests are I want 6-pack abs, I want to get rid of these chicken wings, or I don’t want these love handles. This request is usually followed by some type of statement of one of the more common myths of fitness training – that it is possible to spot reduce fat by doing exercises in that area. It is a myth that doing a lot of crunches or other abdominal exercises will eliminate abdominal fat or that doing a lot of tricep exercises will change that chicken wing fat into muscle.

The sad truth is that it is not possible to spot reduce fat. You can reduce your total percent of body fat through weight loss, building muscle mass, or a combination of both. But where you store the fat that you do have is determined by genetics. For example, some people store fat abdominally (apple shaped) while others store fat in their hips and thighs (pear shaped).

Another way to think of this is that you build muscle locally (doing bicep exercises will build muscle mass in your biceps) but you lose fat systemically (as you reduce your percent body fat, your body will be taking the fat from somewhere – but maybe not where you most hope for). The best way to lose that abdominal fat is to follow a well-designed fitness program that includes total body resistance training, proper nutrition, and cardio exercise.

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