-Hey mister, I found your Instagram photo where your abs were shredded to bits. What exercises can I do for a flat stomach like yours?
-It’s funny you asked because…
-You have a flat stomach workout plan for me?
-It’s funny you asked because… indeed I have.
-Take my money!

The idea that specific exercises can reduce localized fat tissue depots is known as spot reduction or targeted fat loss. If it was true, training only one limb, say, your arm, would lead to greater fat loss in that arm in comparison to the other — untrained — arm, right?

That’s exactly what a recent systematic review with meta-analysis investigated:

The researchers looked at 13 studies that incorporated a localized exercise intervention (i.e., single-limb training) trying to find out whether or not there would be a higher reduction in fat tissue in the trained limb compared to the untrained one.

What did they find? Well, there’s a scientific term for what they found — trying to target abdominal fat with crunches or lower arm fat with tricep extensions is stupid and you need to stop doing that ASAmotherfuckingP (I’m quoting the researchers pretty much word for word here):

Localized muscle training has no effect on localized adipose tissue depots, i.e., no spot reduction, regardless of the characteristics of the population and of the exercise program. The popular belief on spot reduction is probably derived from wishful thinking, and convenient marketing strategies, such as influencers seeking increased popularity and procedures’ sellers interested in increasing advertising.

There’s a lot of obsession with flat belly/stomach/tummy and so I get it — the idea of exercise-based spot reduction may be very appealing. But just because you do ab exercises ad nauseam and ad infinitum doesn’t mean you’re going to get a shredded six-pack.

I’m getting, uh, y’know, too old to say it again, but here goes: The only way to make your [insert any body part you like] more visible is to eat fewer calories and lose enough body fat to the point where your muscles begin to show.

And I understand that saying “you’re eating too damn much, you need to eat in a calories deficit” is as helpful as saying “if you want to be rich, earn more money” but I’ve written an oversized bucket of articles about how to reduce your calorie intake so, uh, maybe you should just google that part. Or read this, this, or this.

So spot reduction or targeted fat loss is the epitome of “you need to stop doing that shit.” Stop seeking a desperate solution to your problematic body parts. Losing overall body fat is your only not-so-appealing solution.

P.S. If you’d like me to walk you through the process of setting up a fat loss plan that’s actually sustainable long-term, check out my 1×1 Coaching Program. Cheers, Egis.


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Originally published by me on Medium on September 2, 2022

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