Breaking Down Body Fat Myths
Toning and Spot Reduction: A Better Understanding to Attainable Body Fat Loss
By Curtis Gee 01/12/2023
One of the most common discussions that professionals in the fitness industry have with clientele is that they want help with “toning” their body (this can also be known as spot reducing fat). While it seems enticing to hear that you could easily lose the love handles or
jiggly arms by doing sit ups or taking a specific supplement, that is just not how your body works. What someone generally wants when they say they want to be toned is to become leaner by reducing body fat while being able to see a bit of muscle.
Sedentary lifestyles, high calorie - low nutrition foods, and sugary drinks often lead to undesired body fat. While it may seem that a person holds their weight in one place or another (abdomen and thighs are common areas), fat is put on throughout the body. And despite what many people may claim, it can only be reduced in the same manner, throughout the whole body, meaning you cannot do a bunch of sit-ups to get rid of belly pudge or bicep curls to get rid of unsightly arm fat. That body fat also covers the muscle mass that would give the lean, toned look that a lot of people desire. So to get that fit look, reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass through nutritional balance, moving more and lifting weights is going to be the goal.
A proper nutritional lifestyle of eating healthy, nutrient dense foods will provide your body with the building blocks it needs to fuel your body and build the strong muscle and bones that you need. Using that fuel to move more will also help burn calories which will aid in the reduction of body fat over the long run. The amount of non-exercise activity (any movement or activity that is not done specifically for exercise purposes - such as walking, hiking, house work or gardening) a person gets has been shown to be an indicator in the success a person has in losing weight. Combining proper nutrition with more movement and a strength program and you have the right ingredients to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle.
Strength training will be important because it increases the size of lean muscle mass. When a person loses body fat and increases muscle, they develop the fit look that most people are looking for when they say they want to be “toned”. While you cannot spot reduce fat, you can spot increase muscle mass, so doing bicep curls or squats will increase the size of those muscle groups, making them more visible as body fat is reduced.
For anyone concerned that a strength program will make them look “too big”: it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to become a bodybuilder and if a person is doing a full body lifting program 2 - 3 times a week, they will not grow to those proportions.
As disappointing as it may seem to hear that spot reducing fat in a certain area of your body is not possible, you have all the tools necessary to get that fit and toned look that you want. Find a strength program that you can follow based on your schedule (or hire someone to help you), focus on eating nutrient dense foods, and move more and you will be on your way towards the progress you desire. It takes time and it isn’t as quick as some internet influencers may promise, but you are worth the effort and the time.
Written by Curtis Gee, Elite Personal Trainer
Curtis has been teaching, coaching, and educating since before he could drive. Starting with youth and high school sports, leading to teaching and helping at-risk high schoolers graduate, to most recently, working with athletes and adults to achieve their health, fitness, and sporting goals.
When not at the gym training others or working on his own fitness, Curtis is an avid gamer, basketball junkie, and enjoys martial arts movies.