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What Is Spot Reduction?

This Is the Worst Thing You Can Do If You're Trying to Lose Body Fat and Build Muscle

Photographer: Diggy LloydRestrictions: Editorial and internal use only. No advertising or print.Product Credits: Outdoor Voices sports bra, H&M pants.

Regardless of your fitness goals — weight loss, building muscle, running faster, growing a bigger booty — there's no magic pill or express lane for achieving results quick. As a personal trainer, my main goals are to educate people on how the human body works, help their bodies become more functional, and help them achieve their fitness goals.

My experiences as a Division 1 All-American sprinter, group instructor, and personal trainer have revealed this: a common misconception people have about losing fat and building muscle is that they should focus on spot reduction.

What Is Spot Reduction?

Spot reduction is the false belief that you can do isolated exercises to target a specific muscle (i.e., triceps, inner thighs, lower belly) and, as a result, lose fat in that area. Small muscle fatigue may leave your muscles feeling shaky, but ultimately it isn't improving your overall fitness, which is needed to lose fat.

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Does Spot Reduction Work?

The short answer is no, spot reduction doesn't work. If your primary goal is to lose body fat, spot reduction won't work because you're targeting small muscles. There's nothing wrong with wanting to lose fat in your arms and build muscle, but doing countless triceps dips won't work. If you're already relatively fit and don't have much fat to lose, spot-toning — developing a particular muscle or muscle group — can help you see more muscle definition.

What Should I Do Instead?

Instead of obsessing over a "problem area," focus on training your entire body. This will help improve your overall strength and health, and you'll achieve the results you're looking for a lot faster. To improve and enhance your physique, don't focus on tiny muscles like your triceps — think bigger. Doing big, compound exercises recruiting multiple muscle groups at once will allow you to elevate your heart rate, burn more calories, and improve your coordination. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses, bent-over rows, and pull-ups are all great exercises to do if you want to burn fat and build muscle.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Diggy Lloyd
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