The localized fat loss (spot reduction) myth

The localized fat loss (spot reduction) myth

Myth: Abdominal exercices are best to lose abdominal fat.


This myth has already been described as false by many physical activity specialists, but still not every practionner (actual or future) is aware that the possibility of a significant localized fat loss has NOT been sufficiently demonstrated by valid, reliable, accurate scientific studies.

Fat loss is more or less global, its distribution essentially being determined, as is the gain that preceded it, by the individual’s genes.

This myth’s persistence is due in part to:
– Advertisements for various abdominal exercicers
Defending this myth allows marketers to sell their products to a client base more interested in losing fat than developing muscular endurance. The results presented in those advertisements are the exception rather than the rule, they generally consist of clients who were totally inactive, and who would have had similar benefits from practically any exercise. Also, these product generally come with a nutrition guide, which is probably the effective element of the program, since these machines are quite ineffective biomechanically.

– Personal trainers without a scientific background.
Using this myth allows them to “personalize” their exercise programs and appear rigourous in their approach. An exercise program conception should instead be based on an individual’s biomechanics, his motor schemes, physical abilities, exercise preferences, sports currently practised and past training, his profession and lifestyle, etc. Such a program can only be conceived after a physical evaluation (tests) of the individual.

Let’s return to the abdominal exercisers:
If someone is interested in strengthening his abdominal musculature, he/she should know that:
These machines, often of poor quality (to reduce manufacturing costs), are in vast majority biomecanically inefficient, meaning that they are unable to recruit the abdominal musculature with a significant intensity. What’s more, their construction being simplistic and uniform, it is impossible to adapt the equipment to the individual’s unique morphology. The result is an inappropriate exercise which, at best, will offer limited initial gains to the most inactive clientèle, or, at worst, will cause wasted efforts, incomfort, and possibly injury.

Patrick Roy-V., B.Sc. Kin

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