Friday, October 28, 2011

Spot Fat Removal: ONE GIANT MYTH

Have you ever seen those commercials for the ab belt?  Or the ab spinner?  Maybe the glute strengthener?  Or the shake weight?  I've seen all these commercials, and all have one thing in common (besides being absolutely ridiculous.)  They all claim to be able to remove fat from those "stubborn" areas, like the lower abs, under arms, and legs.  They claim to target those specific areas and blast away the fat from wherever you would prefer.



Or maybe you don't care about those infomercials, and like me, think they're pretty ridiculous.  However you're in the gym every day doing crunches, determined to make that six pack poke through your belly.  Sit-ups, V-ups, leg raises, planks, you've done them all, but still can't see those abs.  While you may not believe in those infomercials and they're stupid methods, what you're employing is something almost as naive.


THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS SPOT REDUCTION

That means that you can't choose where to take fat off of.  Doing more crunches will NOT burn belly fat specifically.  Doing squats won't take weight off only your back end.  Your body doesn't work like that.  Fat loss happens gradually, and symmetrically.  Where you lose fat first is completely up to your genetics.  Yes, I'm sorry, but that's the truth.

So ladies, you say you have "trouble areas"?  I'm sorry to say, but those trouble areas won't go away from focusing on working them specifically.  You need greater overall fat loss.  Accomplish that, and I guarantee those stubborn fat areas will disappear.

So here's a piece of advice that you can take to heart.  You want six pack abs?  Stop doing crunches, and start doing some cardio.  Your abs will only show through when you have a very low body fat percentage (around 11%), and a calorie deficit for the day is really the only way to make sure your body is using fat stores for energy.  Here are a few suggested techniques to really get your fat loss kick started-

HIIT:  Hate running for incredibly long periods of time and seeing no results?  It's time to pump up the pace a little bit, and decrease that monotonous treadmill time.  HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) means you alternate between high intensity and low intensity exercise in timed intervals. Probably the most common example is to alternate between sprinting and fast walking (slow jogging.)  Try it out next time you're on the treadmill.  Jog for about a minute and a half, then full out sprint for 30 seconds.  Really push yourself.  Make those thirty seconds as intense as you can without risking injury.  After the thirty seconds, bring the pace back down to the original jog.  Repeat a few times, so your total time is between 8 and 20 minutes (you can start with less than this though, I'd suggest only 4 minutes of HIIT if you're just getting into it.)

HIIT will make your metabolism go NUTS.  You're heart will be working in overtime, and your metabolism will be elevated for up to 18 hours after you're done with your workout.  Now that's an after-burn effect.

Hill Sprints:  Yeah, they sound horrible.  And I guess I'll reveal that, no surprise, they don't feel good.  But they are extremely effective at both burning fat and building leg muscle.  It's a  pretty simple concept.  Find a hill, and sprint up it.  Walk back down it, then sprint up it again.  Do this as many times as you feel necessary (I would suggest around 4 to start, and 10 if you're a seasoned hill sprinter.  Try jogging back down, or find a longer/steeper hill to add difficulty.)  These are kind of like HIIT.  Short periods of high intensity exercise followed by a recovery period of low intensity exercise.  These will set your metabolism in FLAMES.



Build some muscle:  Muscle burns calories.  The more you have, the faster your metabolism will be.  So many people (I'll pick on women here) refuse to lift weights because they believe it has nothing to do with fat loss.  WRONG.  It has everything to do with it.  If you're looking to increase your resting metabolic rate, I would strongly suggest you lift weights.  Cardio is great, but definitely needs to be combined with weight lifting to have lasting effects.

Think of it this way.  You may lose fat by running.  But if your metabolism can't support your new lighter weight, you'll put it all back on.  More muscle will help you to support this leaner you.

And ladies, don't worry about bulking up.  You could lift heavy almost every single day and would never look like a bodybuilder.  Your hormones will NOT allow you to put on massive amounts of bulky muscle.  I can't emphasize enough that lifting weights will only do you good.

Go the extra mile:  Take every opportunity you can to just be a little bit more active in your average day.  Park a little farther away from the grocery store.  Stand for an extra ten minutes while you're watching TV or making dinner.  Walk the dog, or do some yard work.  If you put in a little effort, OFTEN, it will add up quite quickly.  An extra 100 calories burned per day will definitely add up quickly.

So if you're looking for those abs, stop doing crunches, and go find a hill, or a longer walk, or a hike, or some dumbbells.  Because like I said before, you may hate that belly fat, but it's not going away until your body decides its time.  And the only way you can make your body decide is to force all the fat you can off that muscle of yours.  Start slow, and build up, as with anything else.

Run hard, run fast, walk more, and pack on the meat.  Good luck!

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