Losing Fat is Like Draining a Swimming Pool - Why Spot Reduction Just Doesn't Hold Water

by Pool Builders on 03-04-2010 in Articles

Yes, it would be a dream come true to be able to lose fat from just one specific area! In fact, as a trainer, I get questions like these all the time...

"How can I lose my gut?"
"How do I stop my arms from flapping in the wind?"
"How can I get rid of this stomach fat?"
"How do I lose just the fat on my thighs?"

These are questions I hear regularly...the bottom-line question being asked is "how can I lose fat from one specific area?"

And I'm sorry to say, the quick answer is...

"You can't."

But don't panic! Just because you can't spot-reduce from one specific area doesn't mean you'll never lose that fat! It just means you have to look at things a bit differently when it comes to fat loss.

THAT is where the pool I mentioned comes in.

I would love to give credit to the person who I burgled this analogy from (if you're reading this, let me know!) but think of your body fat stores as a pool... When you fill up a pool (i.e. body fat stores), the deep end fills up first, right? Of course! It's the deep end. Well, the same thing happens in your body. Think of your stomach as the deep end. When you start putting on fat, your deep end starts filling up first.

So you're happily swimming along until one day you realize your swimming pool is too full and it's time to drain some water from the pool (i.e. lose some fat). To spot reduce and lose that fat from the "deep end," you'd have to drain the deep end first. Not gonna happen. If you can think of a way to drain just the deep end of a pool, I'd like to know it!

This is what happens with fat loss. The stuff you put on LAST is the stuff that comes off FIRST. And generally speaking, the stuff you put on FIRST (i.e. problem areas like the gut and thighs) is the stuff that comes off LAST (because it's the deep end of the pool).

So what's the strategy?

You're going to have to drain more of the pool to get that deep end down.

In fat-loss terms this means you're going to have to lose fat from all over your body before the stuff you REALLY want to get rid of comes off.

I know...that's probably the LAST thing you wanted to hear but it's the unvarnished truth.

I'm afraid doing ten thousand crunches every morning won't get you the ripped six-pack you're looking for. And doing ten thousand leg-lifts (no matter how much you feel the burn) won't pull that fat from your thighs. It'll tighten up the muscles underneath that fat, but you won't really SEE much of a difference.

When the body switches on fat burning, it does so on a systemic basis. Going to back to the pool analogy, this would be like having multiple drains all draining water from the pool. The water level goes down evenly when you drain a pool, no matter how many drains you've got or where the drains are draining from.

So when you lose fat, even if you're exercising the heck out of your abs by doing ten thousand crunches, you could be pulling fat from your legs for fuel. The REAL secret about spot reduction is that you can't pick your spots.

Your body picks the spots for you. Reducing ALL your spots is the only way to spot reduce. So now that I've crushed your dreams about losing fat from just your stomach or thighs, I want to tell you that overall fat loss is not as hard as you might think!

Even small changes in your training and eating can really make a big difference in draining your fat pool. You don't have to go on a crash diet or train 3 hours a day to get results.

Eating better and training as little as 30 minutes, 3 times a week can get you moving in the right direction.

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