The Truth About Targeted Fitness

People within the Black community often consider specific areas of their body to be the bar for successful transformation, but are they setting themselves up for failure? Often women want to get a better booty or a flat stomach and men usually want shredded abs and the V-cut. We’ve all fallen prey to the catchy book and video titles the promise us six packs, slim thighs or buxom booties. While this is a brilliant marketing tool, it falls very short in its efficacy as a fitness tool.So once and for all, let’s put to rest the myth of targeted fat loss.

Targeted Fat loss, aka spot reduction, is the belief that working a single muscle group will result in fat loss in that area, making the underlying muscles more visible. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had that attempt (and fail) to get three to six pack abs by doing 100 crunches a day.

 How many times have you fallen victim to programs promising targeted results? Photo by Justyn Warner

How many times have you fallen victim to programs promising targeted results? Photo by Justyn Warner

The science: Lucky for us, the research in this area dates back to the 1970s, where scientist assessed the fat layers of the arms of tennis players to determine if their primary arm had less fat. Makes sense, right? Years of swinging a tennis racket with one arm should result in less fat in that arm. Nope! They found that there was no statistical difference between the dominant and non-dominant arms. Here’s why: During prolonged exercise your body calls on stored fat as fuel, triggering a process that breaks down the fat into fatty acids. The fatty acids are then transported through to the muscles through the bloodstream. Because the bloodstream is used as the transport mechanism, the stored fat can come from anywhere in your body.

The good news is that there are many things you can focus on instead to achieve overall fat loss and toning — work as hard in the kitchen as you do in the gym. In the game of fat loss, what you put into your body is as important and how effectively you work in the gym. Put differently, if fat loss is your goal, poor diet habits cannot be overcome with exercise. Therefore, focus on:

  • Creating caloric deficit of 300-500 calories per day

  • A balanced diet born of good quality sources (ie. fresh veggies, lean proteins, plant based carbs)

  • Drinking water to support cellular function

  • Avoiding excess salt and added sugar

 Taking processed foods out of your diet will make the biggest difference. Photo by Jasmin Schreiber

Taking processed foods out of your diet will make the biggest difference. Photo by Jasmin Schreiber

Less time, higher intensity

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a type of interval training that prescribes bouts of intense effort followed by a period of lower intensity recovery. HIIT training has been proven to be an effective method of fat burning and is a preferred method for wellness enthusiast who are short on training time.  Check out some suggested HIIT workouts from Darebee to get you started.

Under the Fat There is Muscle

When discussing fat loss it’s easy to forget that under your body’s fat stores are your beautiful, hard working muscles that shouldn’t be neglected. Even if you’re like many of my clients and you don’t want to “bulk’ up, a consistent strength training regimen, incorporated with your cardio will be effective in creating toned muscles and boosting.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

As a general guide, a healthy fat loss regimen should yield a loss of 1-2 pounds per week. Extreme weight or fat loss protocols often result in dehydration, malnutrition, or decreased muscle mass. Over the long haul, these protocols can slow your metabolism, lead to increased fat store, and ultimately be unsustainable.

I hope these fat loss tips help you avoid the “1,000 Crunches to Shredded Abs” trap and start you on your journey to healthy, lasting fat loss.

Danie is a fitnesspreneur with a passion for bringing total wellness to the communities she serves. A D.C. native, Danie now lives in Houston TX where she owns a mobile training business. She holds a bachelor's, master's and 10+ fitness certifications.