Exercise Myth: “Spot Reduction” Training

“What can I do to lose fat in “X” areas?” A question, or a variation of, that I receive fairly often. This question is alluding to a training method referred to as “spot reduction” or “the localized reduction of subcutaneous fat as a result of exercising that particular part of the body.” 1 This type of exercise has been popularly practiced, even though research has shown it to be invalid for quite some time.1,2,3

It is easy to see why spot reduction became a mainstream “solution” for fat loss; putting extra effort into a “problem” area should solve the “problem”, right? However, this method is proven to not result in the desired outcome. While isolating specific muscle groups has benefits, spot reduction training does not equal spot results. Spot reduction training can help to improve the growth and endurance of muscles targeted; but, does not truly ensure subcutaneous fat-loss in those areas.2,3

Okay, so now that I’ve potentially ruined your day by telling you that all of those planks and flutter kicks aren’t necessarily burning fat the way you thought, you’re probably wondering what you can do to burn body fat. While I’m sure you’re expecting me to tell you that I am the fat burning guru and that I’ve created the ultimate fat loss solution. I am not and I haven’t; but, the answer is quite simple. The best way to shed body fat in a healthy manor is through consistent, healthful eating habits and an individualized workout plan.

The body is an interconnected system; therefore, spot reduction does not illustrate the full picture of health.  A majority plant-based diet and the implementation of a structured metabolic and resistance training program are excellent steps towards burning excess fat and achieving peak health.


  1. Kostek, Matthew A., Linda S. Pescatello, Richard L. Seip, Theodore J. Angelopoulos, Priscilla M. Clarkson, Paul M. Gordon, Niall M. Moyna, Paul S. Visich, Robert F. Zoeller, Paul D. Thompson, Eric P. Hoffman, and Thomas B. Price. “Subcutaneous Fat Alterations Resulting from an Upper-Body Resistance Training Program.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise7 (2007): 1177-185. Web.
  1. Vispute, Sachin S., John D. Smith, James D. Lecheminant, and Kimberly S. Hurley. “The Effect of Abdominal Exercise on Abdominal Fat.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25.9 (2011): 2559-564. Web.
  1. Gwinup, Grant. “Thickness of Subcutaneous Fat and Activity of Underlying Muscles.” Annals of Internal Medicine 74.3 (1971): 408. Web.

Published by Tarek Makled

My name is Tarek Makled. I am an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Functional Range Assessment Specialist, Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist, and a Licensed Kinstretch Instructor. I am also Adult First Aid/CPR/AED Certified.

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