Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spot Reducing, My Experience

I’ve already written a blog post on this subject (“The Truth About Spot Reducing”) but I keep reading articles debunking the “myth” of spot reducing, the latest one in the Huffington Post (from, so I thought I’d try again.

In the first few months after I started rollerblading I lost four inches off my upper thighs. At that point I was skating very slowly so there wasn’t much cardio involved. Instead I was doing a complex, high intensity strength workout that affected a part of my body that was in relatively poor shape after decades of sedentary living.

When I started doing P90X I worked my way in slowly, doing one or two workouts a week, along with other routines I was already doing. In the program, Ab Ripper X is the eleven-move workout that targets your midsection. When I was doing Ab Ripper X once a week I saw little improvement in my abs but once I worked up to three times per week the results were dramatic. I had to start wearing belts with all my formerly tight jeans.

I agree with one of the basic points made by the article; cardio will help you lose body fat. Even there, though, the cardio has to be for a long enough time, at a high enough intensity. I spent years doing brisk walking and saw no benefits at all either to my weight or to my overall fitness. It wasn’t until I had my metabolism measured and had workouts designed for me with the New Leaf program that I was able to get my body fat down from the low 20s to around 13.

Here are my conclusions. No, you can’t trim your waist (or any part of your body) by doing a single exercise but strength training, either a complex exercise or a set of exercises at high intensity, does seem to reduce fat in the adjacent body part if they’re done often enough. There’s an interesting twist, though. For me, there was a limit to how many inches I could lose by this method. After I lost the initial four inches, even though I kept rollerblading I didn’t lose any more. Eventually, with other workouts, another inch came off but that seems to be it. If I’m going to lose more than that I’ll probably have to take off pounds.

People go to the gym and lift weights partly because they know it will improve the appearance of the body parts they are working. If it were really impossible to reshape your arms or chest or abs, would there even be such a sport as bodybuilding?