Throughout my years as a personal trainer, I have heard the question, how can I make (xyz) smaller, so many times. Spot reduction can be defined as reducing body fat in one specific area at a time. It is also something many novice exercisers believe is possible.
Unfortunately you can’t do a million crunches to lose your gut. Focusing your training on one muscle group will NOT help that area get smaller. When a fat burning program is done correctly, you will lose body fat equally from your whole body. Again, you can not target your fat loss to one specific area. And as annoying as it is, the area that you store the most body fat will be the last to lose. Your body is going to reduce fat stores in the areas that hold the least amount of fat first. This is why most people see fat loss initially in weird places like their face, and why many women lose their boobs before their tummy. I know, it’s dumb.
I do have some good news! Even though fat loss can’t happen in one specific area, muscle gain can be isolated. You can easily give off the illusion of spot reduction by focused resistance training. This can happen a number of ways.
First of all, let me point out that building muscle and having more muscle mass will help you burn fat faster. Everything I am about to explain will help you shape your body to look smaller. But exercising in general and lifting weights will help you shed body fat from head to toe!
More muscle, even if it’s underneath a layer of fat, will always make you appear smaller. What fat looks like versus what muscle looks like is very different. Having more muscle makes your skin look tighter and thus your body slimmer. If you put two people side by side who are the same weight and have the same body fat percentage but one person has more muscle, that individual is going to look significantly smaller. This is because of the muscle definition and the tightness of certain body parts. So, even when muscle is surrounded by fat it will shape your body. Transitioning to total body resistance training and some isolated resistance training will make you look tighter and help you lose body fat in the long run.
You can also create the illusion of a new body shape by focusing on building muscle in very specific areas. For example, if you want your stomach to look smaller, you can increase the size of your butt, shoulders and back. Even though you can’t spot reduce your stomach, you can achieve an hour glass figure by isolating these three areas. A big bum, a broad back, and well defined shoulders will make the rest of your body look petite. I personally carry any extra body fat in my stomach, and some of that extra fat simply can’t be lost. So this way of training has been my go-to lately!
Muscle can shape your body and make you look smaller even if your measurements and the number on the scale stays the same. Do yourself a favor and hit up the weight room today!