The Secret to Toning and Firming
Those Trouble Spots

Clients will often ask "If I do 100 lunges, will my thighs get thinner?" or “if I do 100 crunches and sit-ups, will I get a nice slim waist?”

The answer is quite simply, "No". There is a very common misconception that, by exercising one body part hard enough or long enough, you will lose weight in that one area. This is what is known as "spot reducing", and unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. It is one of those lingering myths that just won’t go away.

It would be nice if we could just choose the trouble spots we want to reduce, and work on them; take an inch off here, a few inches off there. But, just like you can’t choose where you add that extra fat onto your body, you also can’t choose where you remove it from. When stored fat is used for energy, it is used from your whole body, not only from one particular spot. And each person's body uses stored fat differently, depending on a variety of factors such as age, gender, genetics, hormones and the type and intensity of exercise.

So here is the reality of it: You can’t "spot reduce" body fat. You can’t tone fat. You can’t tighten fat. The only way to get rid of extra body fat is to burn it off with exercise, and then eat right to keep it off.  

Cardio and resistance exercise at a moderate intensity will cause your body to use fat for fuel more efficiently. But it’s no use spending hours each week burning off those fat calories if you are going to just eat them right back on again in a matter of minutes.  It takes a lot longer to burn off 100 calories than it does to eat them!  It's all about how many calories you take in, and how many you put out. Through a good daily nutrition and exercise program, you can begin burning more calories that you are eating, and you will start using up that body fat.

When it comes to cardio exercise, another question I get asked quite often is “which cardio exercise is best for burning fat”? Well, the answer to that is: it doesn't matter what you do as long as you get your heart pumping at your “target heart rate” to burn extra calories. So it doesn’t matter if you use the bike, treadmill, elliptical, stair climber, or swim, or jog, or do aerobics.  Choose what you like best because that is the one you will most likely stick with long enough to see success.

Now, even though "spot reducing" body fat doesn't work, "spot sculpting" can.  What I mean by "spot sculpting" is focusing on specific muscle groups during resistance training.

The key to spot sculpting is to understand you are sculpting muscle, not fat.  If you have extra body fat to lose, you aren't going to get those slender, well defined arms, legs and waist without eliminating the excess fat first. You can do all the sit-ups, push-ups and lunges you want, but if you have a layer of extra fat over your muscles, you won't be able to reveal the toned and sculpted muscles underneath. So the only way to get the results you are after is to use a combination of the three key elements of fitness: cardio exercise, resistance training and proper nutrition.

So, stop worrying about those trouble spots. You’re probably doing them more harm than good by overworking them.  Start working your whole body and those trouble spots will take care of themselves as you burn that fat away.

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