That "6 Pack Ab" Blast Won't Give you 6 Pack Abs
... or maybe it will. Who knows, exactly? Well, science does.
You see it everywhere. You're on instagram, searching through the #fitspo to find a reason to get off the couch after your long day of work (it's okay because I've been there myself). Suddenly, one of those eye-rolling sponsored posts shows up. He insists that he has the proven workout to shred the fat off your belly and gives you all the proof you want to hear on why his program works over all others. Next thing you know, you're subscribing for the ultimate package. A whopping 75% discount for your purchase?! Only $5 a month?! You NEED this and ALL of his books for that extra $20!! Who cares? You're gonna be smokin' hot in 4 weeks!! Those haters can back off!
First workout completed. You're feeling great. Just 10 minutes and you're sweating and panting and beginning to stretch. Ready to plan "Week 1 Day 2" and put your protein powder to work. Day 2, you're still feeling good. The fit virus caught you. Sweat your cojones off and purchase that smartwatch with the heart rate monitor. Suddenly, Day 3 rolls around and you're pumped. You've looked at the latest posts from your fitsperation Instagrammers, sporting that new, shiny watch and are ready to go. Eat your heart out #TransformationTuesday! Your 10 minute session goes by and you look down at your watch to see... ...98 calories? You've blasted your abs for 30 minutes this week. They're on fire. It physically hurts to laugh. You're already a quarter done with these workouts! Why are you not seeing or feeling any difference in your waist?!
Well, there are a few reasons for this, but the biggest myth of this is that spot reduction is not effective through exercise! I fell for this one ALL THE TIME! I was the prime target for these ads. I spend goodness-knows amount of time and money trying to to reduce my waistline. There have been several studies done to debunk this myth. One, for instance, in the 1970's involved tennis players using just their dominant arm. By the end of the trial period, they noticed that the fat percentage in both arms remained the same, although the strength and muscle size were different.
Another study in the 80's at the University of Massachusetts had 13 male subjects perform 5,000 sit-ups over the course of 27 days. They noticed the fat reduction occurred similarly across the whole body versus just the abdominal area.
There are some reasons that this occurs, but to break it down as simply as possible:
Subcutaneous fat (the fat that you find yourself poking at like I constantly do) exists as triglycerides, resting on top of muscle as stored energy. When your body needs to exert more energy, it breaks down the triglycerides to be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the muscles to help build and repair.
The best ways to overcome these trouble spots are to maintain a moderate workout routine 3-5 days per week and just eat cleaner, whole foods and allow for a calorie deficit. Talk to a licensed nutritionist if you need someone to help you build a meal plan. Definitely talk to your doctor before jumping on the stationary bike to make sure your heart and body are healthy enough to start a vigorous training program or to start a little lighter and work your way into it. Also, another thing, full body workouts are much more effective than targeting one spot. Talk to a personal trainer that seems like a good fit for you and see if they can come up with a safe and effective workout regimen for you to get the results you want!
Best of luck reaching those goals, warriors!