If you keep up with my posts or blogs you'll probably find that many times I am saying the same information in a lot of different ways. I've gotten creative with my approaches to answering health and fitness questions and to be perfectly honest there are some people that I just nod and smile to whatever they are saying because I know they aren't going to listen anyway (here's looking at you, mom). I know that's not you guys, though, so I'll go on. I'm going to be perfectly blunt on this one: you can not just work one area of your body in order to lose fat in said area.
My mother (sorry, mom) bought dumbbells because she was going to sit in the living room every chance she got and 'work her arms' to get rid of the extra flab; A potential client came in before she was cleared by a doctor after surgery on her stomach thinking she could just 'work her arms and thighs'; far too many people do far too many crunches thinking that they will shrink their midsection. Just stop it, all of you.
Let me explain: doing an exercise specific to a particular muscle will strengthen the muscle needed to perform the movement, but it will not specifically target the fat that is sitting on top of said muscle. So think about it, working a muscle repetitively over and over but not losing the fat on top of it may actually make it bigger! The odds of that happening are pretty slim because it's really hard to actually make a muscle bigger (we'll save that for another day), but the idea should help it all make sense. I think understanding fat may help you understand these truths. There are two types of fat: essential and stored fat. Essential fat is exactly what is sounds like it's essential to your organ function and is stored in the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, etc. Stored fat includes the fat surrounding your organs and the fat just below the skins surface. Some stored fat is necessary to protect the organs from trauma and to be used as energy. The fat that is stored below the skins surface (subcutaneous fat) is what is hiding those muscles, and trust me you have them in there. In order to reduce subcutaneous fat you have to lose it as a whole, as in your entire body. And let's be real, why would you not want to lose fat all over?
So at this point whether you believe me or not you're still probably sitting there wondering how you can get rid of the extra arm flab or spare tire, right? Eat enough, not too little and not too much, and work your whole body. How long will that take you ask? Well, if you are doing it right (and by right I mean losing fat by balancing food and exercise with the intention of losing it forever) you should lose NO MORE than 2 pounds per week. In fact, losing 1/2 - 1 pound per week is ideal for lasting fat loss. Take note that I say FAT LOSS and not WEIGHT LOSS. Also, everyone gains and loses weight differently. Statistically men gain weight in their midsection first and women in their hips and thighs. This can and will vary from person to person but what you can count on is wherever you gain weight first is where you will most likely lost weight first. So here is the deal: stop falling for informercials promising to reduce the fat on your [insert trouble area here] and get to work on reducing your subcutaneous fat hiding those beautiful muscles. Period.
Sweat & Smiles,