These are comments and questions I get on a weekly basis and although the industry (magazines, celebrities, shows) will tell you ways to “tighten” a specific body part--because after all that is what sells--- the physiology of fat loss doesn’t work that way. We can’t “spot reduce” fat in certain areas of the body.
I wish it were that simple, but the truth is that everyone is genetically predisposed to storing fat in certain areas.
But hang tight, I’ll share what does work in a bit.
We usually lose the first layers of fat from the place it was last stored….so if when you gain weight, the first place it goes is your belly, then it most likely will be the last place that fat loss will occur.
While research has shown that training a specific muscle results in increased levels of blood flow and lipolysis (breakdown of fat cells for energy) in the specific area, it’s not large enough quantity to make a significant difference.
Fat loss occurs in a whole body fashion. You create the proper internal weight loss environment (a calorie deficit) and your body reduces all over the body (order based on genetics) with certain areas reducing faster than others.
Working out a specific muscle will burn calories and will help develop the muscle, but the fat layer on top of the muscle can only be significantly shed off with the proper diet.
Sorry to break it to you, but doing endless amounts of crunches will not give you that summer flat stomach that you may be after.
Another misconception that some women have when lifting weights is that they’ll get bigger. Some of them are sternly convinced that whenever they do certain exercises (ie: squats) their legs get bigger...so they shy away from heavy weights and only do cardio...leading to some muscle loss and not truly addressing the root cause.
Going back to that fat layer on top of the muscle idea, the reason some women feel like they are getting “bigger” around certain areas after adding weight training is because the muscles are getting developed, but the fat layer has not been addressed via proper diet. The developed muscle pushes out the fat layer, giving it that “bigger” visual. In addition, whenever you start a strength training program, the muscles tends to hold on to water which is used for both protection and repair.
Now to be fair, genetics once again plays a role in how much muscle you can truly gain, and some women do indeed gain faster than others, but most often than not, it’s the fat layer effect that gives that “bigger look” to the muscle.
So how to train in order to maximize overall leanness?
1.) Accept the fact that genetics plays a role in the shape of your body. And please don’t tell me you have fat genes and that’s why you can’t lose weight! With the right discipline and protocol, you CAN become leaner and stronger.
2.) Establish a Healthy, Balanced Diet. Focus on adding lean meats, lots of veggies and some fruits (preferably the high fiber ones with skin), plenty of healthy fats (nuts, olive oil) and complex carbohydrates. Don’t shy away from carbs, it always backfires. Besides, both your brain and muscles need lots of (healthy) carbohydrates. Aim to reduce sugar and alcohol consumption (the two main offenders in weight gain).
3.) Focus on Compound Exercises. These are exercises that utilize more than one joint in the body. Examples include squats, deadlifts, pushups, pull-ups, lunges and step ups. Cardio includes running, rowing, biking, skiing and swimming.
You get a bigger bang for your buck by engaging several muscle groups during a certain move. That's why we focus primarily on those types of exercises during the K-Fit HIIT workouts.
4.) Add interval training. There is a reason why celebrity trainers use this method of training to get their Hollywood clients ready for camera. It works and it works quickly. Interval training helps accelerate fat loss by burning more calories during an exercise session. Don’t forget to make smart decisions in the kitchen afterwards in order to reap the ultimate rewards.
Strategize correctly, but keep it simple. Create motivation by creating momentum in your fitness program. Start with a walk. Make some healthier choices when eating. Start inching your way towards the weights section and add some interval training to your life.
Let me know your questions!
Committed to your health,
Kendrick Ribeiro, MS, CSCS
PS-- If you're ready to take your fitness to the next level and would like to try a super effective, low impact, interval training program, contact us for your FREE trial of our K-Fit HIIT workout.
PPS- If you'd like to receive a free copy of the K-Fit nutrition guide (below) to help you start eating cleaner, just shoot us an email and we'll send it right over.