Probably one of the most frequently asked questions for personal trainers is “How do I get rid of THIS?” When asking the question, the client is pointing to their triceps area (back of the arms), their belly, hips or thighs. Even with all the information available to us about the fact that there is no such thing as spot reduction, people still want to believe there is something that can be done for their most problematic area.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were an actual answer to that question? I would be a very rich trainer if I could tell someone, “Oh that? No problem. I have the perfect exercise that will get rid of it!” This is what most people are looking for when they ask that question. They want to know what specific exercise, and how many repetitions of that exercise, they should do to decrease the size of the problem area.
It’s not difficult to understand why clients continue to ask this question over and over again. A brief viewing of late night infomercials will lead anyone to believe it is possible to get six-pack abs with one particular gadget that can be yours for just three monthly installments of $19.95, plus tax and shipping. A quick browse through certain magazines and you can see the best three exercises you should perform to get perfectly sculpted arms.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is not possible to spot reduce! You could execute 500 perfect sit-ups each day and STILL have an extra layer of fat over your abdominals. If your nutrition is not dialed in, and you are not exercising in a way that will make your body a fat-burning machine, your body will continue to store fat. Here’s the other bad news: Your body will most likely store fat in the area you are most concerned about.
Right about now you must be realizing that your body can spot store fat, even though it cannot spot reduce fat. Unfair! We all store fat differently. Generally, women will tend to carry a greater portion of fat on their thighs and hips, while men will tend to store it in their midsection. This is not always true, but that is mostly the case.
So we are back to the original question, “How do I get rid of THIS?” First, let’s talk nutrition. Above, I mentioned having your nutrition dialed in. What I mean by this is that you should be eating clean 90 percent of the time. The occasional treats are fine, but making your body a fat-burning machine is about 80 percent nutrition, 20 percent exercise. Those numbers might not be exact, but I want people to realize how important your food is. You cannot outwork a terrible diet.
If I had to sum it up with just a few points, I would suggest:
- Don’t skip breakfast
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies
- Have protein with every meal
As for exercise, strength training is going to be critical to increasing your metabolism and burning fat. My suggestion is to lift as heavy as you can with good form. Work out with much higher intensity for shorter periods of time instead of spending one or more hours in the gym with lots of rest. When deciding what exercises are best, choose exercises that utilize more muscle. In other words, a squat exercise uses multiple muscles in the whole lower half of your body. A bicep curl uses only one, very small muscle group.
In my next article I will go into more detail about exercise selection and intensity training. Until then, eat well, exercise hard and get plenty of rest!