Friday, September 24, 2010

Spot Specific Fat Reduction.

As a trainer you always get into discussions, when going over weight loss goals, about what areas a person wants to lose fat from. It's hard, from the outset, and at an initial consultation, to know just how much depth to go into regarding this subject, and just how to tell a client that all preconceptions they have about weight loss, are wrong. There is a general census within the fitness industry that spot specific fat reduction is a myth, this is mostly supported by evidence (though, apparently not), spot specific fat reduction refers to the concept of stripping fat from predetermined areas of the body (usually trouble areas such as glutes, stomach, thighs etc). Strength and conditioning coach Charles Poloquin believes it is possible to spot specific fat reduce, but he is in the minority. It's important to note he is selling a product advertising this in his "bio signature modulation" program that, from what I understand, targets hormonal concerns. The reason he targets the endocrine response is largely due to the supposition that hormones such as insulin, cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, thyroid and growth all effect fat distribution and storage (which they do). I'd say the complication comes from whether or not his program actually works, and the testimonials certainly seem positive. That aside, the idea of specifically doing exercises to strip fat from specific areas is largely unsupported,  Poliquin's bio signature program is a highly tailored, intensive program that requires special training and measures to implement (as well as costing $$$). Your average person who trains needs to focus on the basics, a proper diet and a well balanced training regiment (I put them in order of importance), worrying about hormonal concerns is valid, and I would almost always recommend a hormone level check up, especially for women (those who, in particular suffer from a "pear" shape) but isn't the focus for your average joe. Alwyn Cosgrove in his manual "the science of fat loss" touched briefly on spot specific fat reduction, claiming it is possible, but there is little evidence thus far (though he did provide some), definitely something to keep an eye on.

Largely, when talking to clients,  I wouldn't support the notion that spot specific fat reduction being possible, if only for argument and continuity's sake, not in the quantities of weight most of you are looking for. Clients don't need to get bogged down in technical and often contradictory meta analysis of the data being produced. It's not uncommon during weight loss plans to feel stagnant when in actuality you're just losing fat from places you can't see. The point I'm making is, selling spot specific fat reduction as a fact sells unrealistic expectations and can cause the client to foucs on specific parts of their body when training on the whole would be more beneficial. Specific work can be added to certain areas on top of their program if needed.

I'm more than willing to accommodate a clients needs for spot specific fat reduction as I've found, psychologically, when a person feels like they're getting results, it can be just as motivating for them, as if they actually were. Nobody likes to hear 'eh sorry that's a myth", but the larger focus of my programs rely on burning the most amount of calories in the extremely short amount of time we have together, while getting the client to reduce the harmful activities they're doing to themselves. To the women out there who have that extra weight on the aforementioned adipocytes, and who do perhaps suffer from a pear shape (the male equivalent is an "apple" shape) I would suggest following a low carb diet with high intensity weight training and HIIT, simply working those areas won't cut it.

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