Can You Spot Reduce Body Fat?

The single biggest question when I ask those I Consult and Coach for, what they struggle with most in regards to their physique, the typical response is "belly fat" or "thighs and/or glutes" region.  I wrote an article specific to "How Do I Shed Belly Fat" last year, but the conversation tends to lead to wanting to target one specific area of the body.  

Do you think that spot reduction is possible?  

Have you seen those people in the gym doing countless sit ups or countless lunges and squats, hoping to get that 6-pack or toned legs, they so desire? 

Is this the truth? Can doing a high volume of exercises for a specific muscle group help you become leaner in that area?

Let’s look at the facts on spot reduction.


Let's get the skinny on how fat loss happens.  Basically, fat loss will take place any time you consume fewer calories than you burn off over the course of the day (this comes with a HUGE caveat, that is also matters the TYPES of calories you consume.  A diet with "empty calories", won't get you there in a healthy way).  Since your body has to get energy from somewhere, it’s going to get that 

energy from your body fat stores.

Hence, the more energy it requires, the faster you’ll be burning off body fat.

This does mean, however, that you can’t pick and choose where the body fat is burned off.  There are a large number of factors that come into play in determining where your body will burn the fat from, including your genetic predisposition to store body fat, your hormonal levels, as well as the density of certain receptors that play a key role in fat burning in selected regions.

Many of these you have no control over, therefore you simply have to take it as it goes.  As long as fat loss is progressing along, eventually you will lose fat off your desired area.


So this leads us to the spot reduction myth.  People think that by working a certain muscle group, they will help burn fat in that region. YAH, I'm talking to all those ab-crazy gym-goer's!  

The truth of the process is that by working a specific muscle, they may firm and tone the muscle, even potentially making it a bit larger, but that still doesn’t change the fact that there is a layer of fat covering it.

Until that fat is removed, definition will not be seen.

As we pointed out above, fat loss is a full body phenomenon that has nothing really to do with working just one specific localized region, therefore spot reduction simply isn’t an accurate concept.


So what’s the better approach?

Well it comes in packaged deal – Nutrition + Fitness = Body Fat Reduction. 


As I preach day in and day out to my customers and clients, nutrition is 80% of the results.  You can workout until you are blue in the face, but if you don't match that with proper nutrition, you defeat the whole purpose, thus limiting your goals with maximum fat loss. You must feed your body the right amount of calories for your desired outcome (all while avoiding starvation), but what's more important, is the types of calories you consume.  Choose nutrient dense foods vs those empty senseless calories (and YES! Those 100 calorie packs aren't considered "nutrition").


The next piece to the puzzle on how to reduce body fat from any given region on your body, is look at what type of workout will have you burning off the most calories possible.  The more calories you burn off, the faster you create that calorie deficit that is required for fat loss to occur.

Think Insanity vs. walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes.  Which workout is going to burn more calories? 

Finding a workout program that involves large muscle groups and uses compound exercises– squats with a bicep curl, deadlifts, lunges with shoulder raise, etc, are going to work far more muscle fibers than movements such as crunches, bicep curls, and tricep kickbacks.  Therefore, they will be more effective for burning off body fat and eventually reducing the fat from your desired region.

Ditch those boring isolation exercises to ‘burn fat’. Instead, do a full body workout program using primarily compound lifts.  Couple this with stellar nutrition, and you will get that much closer to your end goal.

Your partner in health & fitness,


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