28 Feb 2020
We’ve all heard the ads, read the marketing and bought into the dream of saying farewell to the flab via the latest workout, product or lifestyle choice, but can you really target fat loss in certain areas of the body?
Sadly, despite all the messaging that would have you believe otherwise, the answer is a big fat NO. But while spot fat reduction might be a myth, targeting the muscles beneath the fat in specific areas certainly IS possible.
Here we highlight how to sidestep the unscrupulous and insecurity-feeding mumbo jumbo and focus instead on real and attainable muscle-building goals – with a few handy exercises to get you started on your journey.
Truth: While a jelly belly can be one of the most stubborn areas when it comes to storing fat, it’s also one of the easiest to work out from home, given many lower stomach exercises require nothing more than a mat.
Plank. Starting on your hands and knees, lower your elbows to the ground for more support, making sure they’re positioned directly under your shoulders to prevent injury. Extend legs out so only your toes are touching the ground, and tuck your pelvis in so your shoulders, glutes and legs all form a straight line. Squeeze abs and glutes to maintain the correct position. Hold for a minimum of 60 seconds.
Hanging knee raise. For a more advanced ab workout, start in a dead hang from a sturdy and secure bar (either in the gym or in your home / outdoors). Raise both knees to the chest, controlling the movement on the way down. Repeat for 30-60 seconds. Introduce a twist during the raise to target obliques too.
Truth: The use of heavy weights coupled with exercises like side bends can actually increase the appearance of love handles by building the oblique muscles underneath the love handles.
Bicycle crunch. Lie on your back, positioning hands lightly behind your head with legs raised to a tabletop (90°) position. Bring your left knee towards your chest while crunching your torso up and left, reaching your right elbow towards your raised left knee. Repeat on the other side, keeping shoulders and feet off the ground to maximise the workout. Continue for 60 seconds.
Side plank. From a plank position (see above) rotate the body to one side, transferring your body weight onto one elbow. Make sure your shoulder is over your elbow and you are not dipping your hips down. Hold for 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Truth: OK, this is kind of true, but it doesn’t mean you can’t fight your DNA and target muscle building in this often-neglected area.
Sumo squats. Position your feet wider than the usual squat position and point toes outwards at around 45° (just like a sumo wrestle would stand). Keeping your torso tight and chest up, lower yourself so your butt reaches below the level of your knees, then slowly come back up. Don’t forget to control the movement and push knees out as you go down to avoid injury. Once you feel confident in the technique, you can add weights to maximise the workout. Do 3 sets of 12.
Lateral lunges. Also known as side lunges, these simple but effective exercises target not just the inner thighs, but quads, glutes and hamstrings too. Start with feet together, taking a big step to the right, hinging at the hip and keeping your chest raised as you lower your body down so your butt is below the knee line. Keep both feet flat on the floor during the lunge, then push off the right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat 12 times, then change sides.
Remember – don’t buy into the hype around spot fat reduction and the equipment, products and fads claiming to help you achieve it. Instead, focus on a holistic picture of health and fitness, blast the cardio for overall fat loss, and target those hard-to-budge areas through specific exercises for muscle building. Only then can you really farewell the flab for good.
Proud member of