Ab Exercise Myths:
Spot Reduction and Ab Exercises

Of all the ab exercise myths, spot reduction is the biggest myth and the most important myth to understand if you want to lose stomach fat and get ripped 6 pack abs.

The fitness industry and weight loss industry will keep perpetuating the spot reduction myth because it is so profitable. But, as your personal trainer, I want to help you save money and understand how to reach your goals , so I'll tell you the truth about spot reduction, and explain how the body really burns fat off your stomach.

Exercise Myths: #1 The Spot Reduction Myth

Spot reduction means that you want to work a “Spot” to “Reduce” the layer of fat under the skin at that Spot. Everyone thinks they can lose fat on a spot by exercising that spot, but this is the biggest of all the abdominal exercise myths I have heard.

Genetics and Exercise Myths

One of the reasons many of us have extra body fat around our stomach is Genetics. Our bodies have been evolving and adapting to meet the demands of survival, but in some ways our genetics have not caught up with our lifestyles.

Many years ago, food was scarce. There were no refrigerators, canned foods, boxed cereals, fast food restaurants, supermarkets, or delivery services. Our genetics have not evolved as fast as our lifestyles. Our genetics are still programmed to protect us from famine.

So, what does genetics and famine have to do with stomach fat?

The fat cells under the skin covering your stomach are different from the fat cells under the skin in other areas of your body. The fat cells around your stomach are designed to store energy (fat) in case of a famine.

Now think back into time...

Where do you think would be the most convenient place for the body to store fat?

Not on the legs... Remember, we had to run after food, climb to get food, and run from wild animals. Having excess fat on the legs lowers our center of gravity and makes us far less mobile.

Not on the arms... Remember, we had to climb, carry food, chase and be chased. Having excess fat on the arms would raise our center of gravity, making us top heavy and far less mobile.

Around the midsection...That's the best place! Our center of gravity is near our core. If we have a little more weight in that area, we can still stay relatively balanced and mobile.

If we continue to discuss exercise myths, we'd find that another reason we store fat around our stomachs is hormones.

Exercise Myths: Hormones

The main reason most men and women store body fat in certain places is sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.

We are all unique (I encourage you to always embrace your uniqueness) but most women tend to store body fat in certain Spots: hips, thighs, stomach, back of the arms, and breasts & most men tend to store fat in Spots: on their abdomen and chest.

Estrogen causes an overall increase in body fat percentage. And, estrogen also tends to promote more fat storage on the lower body (a reason why most women are shaped like pears) and lower abdomen (a reason for the pooch and bloating feeling during the menstrual cycle).

Conversely, testosterone tends to promote more fat storage around the abdomen, chest, heart, and stomach. This is why most guys tend to be shaped like apples as they gain weight (a reason for the beer belly).

The big difference between Men and Women is the sex hormones: Estrogen and Testosterone.

Genetics and Hormones control all of our bodies functions, and hormones are one of the most powerful forces our bodies have to deal with.

Here's 2 examples of how powerful hormones are.

Example 1: If a female bodybuilder starts taking hormones, namely testosterone, she will lower her body fat, but also lose breast tissue, get thicker coarser hair, have a deepening of the voice, and even develop male facial features.

Example 2: If you look at a man’s legs and compare them with a woman’s legs, generally the man’s legs are really well defined and muscular. However, if a man started taking estrogen, you would notice that his legs would become smoother, less muscular, and look more like most women’s legs--the man might also develop breast tissue, which is mostly fat.

Have you ever seen a guy with muscles in his legs, but a huge stomach?

Many older active guys look like this. They have very little fat on their legs, but a ton of fat around their stomach, which is partly because of the hormone testosterone. Testosterone also tends to store fat around the heart and this is why guys tend to have a higher risk of heart disease before the age of 50.

Quick Side Note: Estrogen has a protective function on the heart, and this is one of the reasons why men have a higher rate of heart disease then women before around the age of 50.

So much for the exercise myths, blame it on the hormones.

The most important point that I want you to understand is that genetics and hormones determine our bodies tendencies and genetics and hormones have a very strong impact on weight loss and fat loss.

Okay back to losing fat off your stomach...here's how exercise works to burn fat, and it is a great travesty!

Exercise Myths: The Great Travesty of Exercise

The great travesty of exercise is that when you work an area, your body does not take fat from that area!

Well, that sucks!

In other words, when you work your stomach by doing ab exercises the body does not burn calories from the fat that is under the skin in your stomach to create energy.

If it doesn’t burn fat from under my skin, where does the body get the energy?

Doing ab exercises and working your stomach muscles definitely burns calories. So, in order to understand how your body works to burn calories and fat, I want you to think of your “muscles as a fireplace.” To burn calories, you have to get fat and sugar (carbs) into the muscles (fireplace).

There are 3 main places the muscles get calories to burn.

1. There is some fat and sugar (carbohydrates) stored inside your muscles (intramuscular energy). It is really easy to burn fat inside the muscles because it is already in the fireplace.

2. There is fat and sugar in your blood stream. When your muscles start working they need more oxygen, nutrients, and energy. So it is relatively easy for the muscle to burn calories from fat and sugar in your blood.

3. There is fat stored all over the body, especially under the skin. It is much harder to burn stored fat because it is the least convenient place for the body to get energy.

Exercise Myths: Fire Place Analogy

Using the fireplace analogy, imagine that you already had logs in the fireplace. You would simply have to light the fire to burn the logs. That’s like the fat that is already inside your muscle… it’s really easy.

Now imagine that you have a stack of logs next to the fireplace. As the fire needed more logs to keep going, you would simply pick up another log and throw it on the fire. That’s like picking up calories and fat to burn from your blood. It’s a little more work, but still not that difficult.

Now imagine that you had no logs left and needed to go to the back yard, saw down and tree, chop firewood, and carry it back to the house. That’s like getting energy from stored fat under the skin… it’s so hard to do and takes so much time.

Funny thing is that our bodies are just as lazy and we are, and our bodies are always trying to find the easiest way to do anything… and that is the biggest travesty of exercise! We want to work a particular spot on our body to improve it, but our body doesn’t burn many of the calories from the spot where we want it to burn calories.

So unfortunately, Spot Reduction through Ab Exercises Isn’t Really Possible :(

Hopefully, spot reduction will no longer be one the ab exercise myths you don't understand. But, even though working your abs by doing ab exercises won't magically melt off fat from around your stomach, working your abs is still extremely important.

Working your abs, will help to keep you fit, can support good posture, prevent back pain, increase core strength, and improve your sports performance.

That being said I know vanity is a good motivator. I also know that many of us want to workout so that we look good, and toned abs, a slim waist, or a ripped six pack is really the goal.

If your goal is to get a six pack or really toned abs, abdominal exercises are only a small part of the equation. In order to lose stomach fat fast and get the best abs, you need a comprehensive program that includes cardio, flexibility, core strengthening exercises, weight training, and a sound nutrition program.

For a comprehensive program, consider my ebook Personal Training Secrets to Lose Belly Fat and Get a Flat Stomach... It's more than just a list of the best ab exercises.

Remember, of all the ab exercise myths, spot reduction is the biggest of all exercise myths and the most important of the exercise myths to understand.

Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles

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