By Jay Hiller, September 1, 2022
“You can’t use exercise to target fat loss in a specific area of your body,” I told my friend.
“I think you’ve told me that before,” she said.
I have. And she told me to write a blog post about it. I guess that’s one way to make me stop talking about it.
It must be a pretty common misconception to think that, for example, if you do sit ups you must be burning fat off your abdomen. If you’re doing a back exercise, you must be targeting back fat. If you’re thinking this way, and a lot of smart people mistakenly do, you probably think that doing squats burns fat in your glutes and legs. This just isn’t true. Exercise builds muscle and gaining muscle promotes aerobic activity, which burns calories. It also boosts metabolism, according to Dr. Miriam Nelson in her book Strong Women Stay Young (1997, Bantam.) However, the idea that you can rid yourself of fat in a specific area of your body by exercising that part of your body is mistaken. You can build muscle anywhere you want and eat a moderate amount of healthy foods so that you’re using more calories than you take in. But you cannot target a specific area of your body for fat loss.
One more thing about this:
I remember being told when I was an overweight 15 year old that if I would just lose weight in my butt people would like me better because nobody cared about how fat my stomach was. I believe the person who said that thought she was being helpful. I’m over it, sort of. Listen to the woman who was overweight as a teenager: you can’ t use exercise to target fat loss in a specific area.