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You Cannot Spot Reduce

By on April 28, 2008

Question: I have been doing squats and lunges thinking these would help me reduce my thighs and butt. I read somewhere that this is good for “lifting” the butt area. I want to lose weight and to me, thought it would be better to lose before firming but do see an improvement as far as firming is concerned. My problem is how to I reduce? I’ve heard that the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn. I’ve been working out with free weights for the upper body and am having the same problem. I heard that less weight more reps is more for defining versus heavy weight, less reps is for increasing. I’m confused and would greatly appreciate your expert opinion.

– Jennifer

Answer: You’re making me friggin’ dizzy with this question and the process that you are trying to describe is not as complicated as in your description. I think we can all take a lesson from this question. And that lesson is; STOP MAKING FITNESS SO DAMN COMPLICATED. The only things that can reduce fat on any part, and let me repeat that; ANY PART of your body is exercises that utilize fat as a fuel. So basically targeted exercises like squats and lunges will not reduce the specific fat on your ass and thighs rather it will reduce fat elsewhere. You cannot spot reduce. Running, cycling, elliptical and even running stairs (if you don’t have bad knees) will reduce fat on every part of your body especially if done in an interval style of training.

I know this may sound absolutely foreign to you, but your body is telling you something, and that something is you need to gain muscle before it will allow you to lose fat. This is actually a good thing for you. Yes, the more muscle you have on your body the more fat calories you will expend (between 45 – 75kcals for every added pound of muscle). Talk about residual effect. Let’s talk about the fallacy and ultimate nightmare that I have been living in since I began lifting weights and exercising. The nightmare is the assumption that less weight more reps is for defining muscles and heavy weight with lower reps is for gaining muscle. I just want to scream…arghhh. Stupid people! It just doesn’t happen that way. “Definition” is not just the burning of fat; it is also the building of muscle. If you build muscle you literally define it and it becomes more pronounced.

Some idiot decided and wrote it down in an article and then in a book that the lower rep ranges that power lifters use would gain muscle very much like the muscle that said power lifters had. The only problem with that theory is that only a small percentage of the population has that much fast twitch muscle fiber to acclimate their bodies to that kind of program. But of course if it’s written down than it must be gospel. If you were to truly work out like that you would have to do a million sets to break down the muscle adequately. Remember build muscle first and the fat will fall off.