The Myth of Spot Reduction
So have you decided to do 500 crunches a day to get rid of your belly? It does sound logical that if you hit the fat with high repetitions of crunches it should be burnt off, right? Well not really! You see our body does not spot reduce. If you lose 5 kgs, you will lose it from all over your body and not from one area alone.
Let us first understand our bodies a little better. Our bodies have a preferred area to store fat, where it tends to store fat first. For men, this preferred area is usually the stomach, and for women it is their thighs and hips. This is why you will first notice your tummy, thighs growing fatter before other parts. Therefore, after months of weight gain your body’s preferred area to put on fat will be much fatter than other areas in your body.
Another major misconception that many people have is that we do crunches to create a six-pack. Well, you see even the fattest person in the world has a six-pack to begin with. It’s just that it is hidden behind a thick layer of fat and thus is not visible. By doing a high number of crunches your ab muscles will get stronger but the fat cover will still remain. So never think that you can create a muscle, you can just loose the fat to make it visible.
Now getting back to targeting the trouble area for fat loss - Crunches, leg swings are not the best way to reduce the fat in those areas. As mentioned earlier our bodies are conditioned to lose fat from all over, rather than loosing from one particular area. Thus the more number of calories you burn, the more fat you lose overall! Activities that are tough like intense weight training, sprinting, etc. will burn far more calories than doing sit-ups. Think of it, what will tire you more, doing 500 squats or 500 crunches?
So stop believing in the myth of ‘toning’ a certain body part. Work with movements that use many muscle groups to burn more calories. This way you will reduce fat from all over, including your trouble areas. Given below is a list that gives examples of some activities that will help you lose overall fat faster:
- Intense weight training using compound movements like squats, dead lifts, bench presses, rows, overhead presses, etc. in the 6-15 rep range. Choose 4-6 exercises and do 2-3 sets of each.
- Bodyweight exercises like pushups, squats, pull ups for high number of repetitions
- Rowing for 20 minutes
- Rope jumping for 20 minutes
- 6-20 times 50-100 meters sprints with 2 minutes walking recovery in between
- Playing sports like soccer, basketball, etc
- Martial arts classes
Of course, you can work your problem areas directly with sit-ups, leg swinging, etc. However, focus more on the exercises from the above list and keep your crunches, leg swings to no more than 20% of your workout time. Remember to progress in your workouts by moving faster, lifting more weight gradually to keep getting results.