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Spot Reducing Doesn't Work Anywhere

Spot reducing is an old term which contends that doing millions of reps or spending hours of time on a given body part will make the fat disappear only from that area. A decade ago, exercise physiologists informed the public spot reducing did not work. Why do we still see it in our group exercise programs?

First, exercisers don't want to let go of the idea that if they diligently work their abs they will certainly lose weight from their stomachs and fast. Because of these strong beliefs, health clubs continue to offer classes like "Ab Blaster" or "Butt Burner". They appeal strongly to the mindset of their clients and it sells. By offering classes that have no scientific basis these fitness clubs have sold out.

Some participants also feel if they work a specific body part for 30 minutes they will get stronger in that area. Sadly you will hear instructors saying "keep going, work those abs, make them strong". The fact is you gain strength by doing lower repetitions at higher weight. The constant crunch type motions repeated in those "Ab Blaster" classes will enhance endurance, give little muscle defintion and basically no strength.

I just attended one of those 30 minute ab classes last week where the instructor did a mile a minute of crunch work (abs should be done slow and contolled with some isometric contraction) and ignored the core and lower back work. I finished thinking how are we training our instructors?

Then there's the Butt Burner class where the ladies want to make their rear smaller, firmer and tighter. Truth be told they will get absolutely none of this in a repetitive nature class. All you will get is some muscular endurance. If you want to make your rear smaller it just means losing weight from all over. Toning and tigtening your glutes should be done in the gym by doing some squats and lunges.

The concept of working one area repeatedly, or spot reducing, is just one of the floating peices of fitness hype still out there. Fat never comes off faster from one place than another It comes off evenly through diet and exercise. Building strength involves lifting heavier weights at lower repetitions. Spot reducing truly is a physiological waste of time.

About the Author: Dr Lanny Schaffer is an Exercise Physiologist and the President of The International Fitness Academy. For more cutting edge research and fitness news go to

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