9Round Fitness Blog

Busting Fitness Myths: The Truth Behind “Spot Reducing”

Written by Taylor Stephens, 12 Aug 2019

We hear it time and time again… “I want to lose the fat on my ______.” Whether your area of concern is your belly, love handles, thighs, or that little bulge over your bra strap that just won’t leave… if you think you’re going to blast it away with targeted exercises, think again.

Myth: You can spot train a specific area of your body to lose fat in that area.

The notion that spot training actually allows you to lose fat in specific body areas is not only untrue but is also distracting people from more important aspects of fitness, like reducing overall body fat and building lean muscle. And, even worse, when people aren’t able to spot reduce fat in certain areas, they’re left feeling discouraged and frustrated that they aren’t reaching their fat-loss goals. We’re here to shed some light on this common fitness misconception. 

Reality: Fat is shed evenly from the entire body.

Unfortunately, the message that you can “melt the fat from your belly” or “tone up your abs” is common within advertising of workout programs, but the truth is, targeting your “trouble areas” for fat loss is something that just doesn’t work. Much like you can’t pick a specific area of a swimming pool from which to drain water, fat cannot naturally be drained from a specific area of the body. While targeting a specific muscle group will, indeed, make the underlying muscles stronger, fat loss has to happen across your entire body until you eventually see results in specific areas.  

Targeting small muscle groups will lead to relatively insignificant results when it comes to overall fitness. No matter how much you exhaust your muscles or “feel the burn” in a specific area, your body does not take into consideration where you would like the fat to be drawn from when it is being burned for energy.

The Bottom Line: If you want to lose the fat from one area of your body, you have to focus on losing fat from the rest of your body as well.

We love this analogy about spot reduction from the American Council on Exercise: “You can try to cook a turkey with a candle, or you could use the oven,” [1]. Simply put, prioritizing smaller muscle groups without addressing the bigger ones will not help you reach your end goal.

This is why overall fitness and lean muscle development is a stronger determining factor of your body’s composition. Fat reduction can be accomplished through participating in total-body workouts that include strength and cardio exercises (hello, 9Round) in conjunction with a sensible diet.

Want to learn how we can help you work toward your fitness goals? Click the link below to find your nearest 9Round location and get a free workout!

  1. McGrath, Chris. “Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn.” Spot Reduction: Why It Doesn't Work | ACE Blog, The American Council on Exercise, 25 Nov. 2013, www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/3629/myths-and-misconceptions-spot-reduction-and-feeling-the-burn.