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You cannot spot reduce fat!

And there is no exercise to lose weight around the stomach.

For a long time this myth has stuck around almost as long as the unwanted fat that lingers around our mid-section.

This article aims to educate you on why the concept of ‘Spot Reduction’ is false and why doing sit-ups all day won’t result in a tight 6-pack.

Firstly, what is ‘Spot Reduction’.

The term ‘spot reduction’ refers to the idea that you can reduce body fat in a particular area of the body without affecting other regions. So for example, reducing body fat in the abdominal region whilst barely touching/affecting the legs/arms/chest.

Doing sit ups alone will do very, very little to reduce your waist line

Doing sit ups alone will do very, very little to reduce your waist line

So.. why can’t we spot reduce?

Well, let’s look at some of the scientific research around spot reduction. Going back almost 20 years ago, Ross & Janssen (1997) looked at the effect that localised resistance training had on visceral fat reduction. They had participants workout with a focus on the abdominal region, whilst another group did a general resistance training program. Both groups lost weight and there was no significant difference in reduction of waist circumference.

Fast forward to 2013 and a study by Ramirez-Campillo et al. looked at localized resistance training and the effect it would have on visceral fat reduction in that area. After 12 weeks, training 3 times a week – “the training program was effective in reducing fat mass, but this reduction was not achieved in the trained body segment”.

Okay you’ve told us you cannot – but why Chris?

It comes down to basic human physiology really. Without going too sciencey (that’s a word from now on) – when you gain weight, the body stores visceral fat across the body. Where we store this weight seems to determined by a few factors which include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Activity level
  • Stress
  • Food type (more research needed)

Generally men store more more weight around the mid-section, whilst women are characterized with increased weight gain around the hips and thighs.

Now when we lose weight, similar applies – we lose weight all over and often it takes the longest to lose weight in those areas mentioned above.

If only it was that easy.

If only it was that easy.

So how do we go about losing weight from the mid-section then?

Quite simple really.

1. Focus on energy expenditure (burning more energy than you consume)

2. Exercise regularly
3. Repeat 1 and 2 until desired result.

That’s it.

If you want to lose more weight around the mid-section, keep doing the above. There are no short-cuts in health and fitness. If that was the case then everyone would be walking around with 6-pack abs all thanks to sit-ups and Ab-Swings.



Ross R, Janssen I. Is abdominal fat preferentially reduced in response to exercise-induced weight loss? (1999) Med Sci Sports Exerc.31(11 Suppl):S568-72.

Ramírez-Campillo R, Andrade DC, Campos-Jara C, Henríquez-Olguín C, Alvarez-Lepín C, Izquierdo M. Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Aug;27(8):2219-24. doi:



Christopher Watts

Author Christopher Watts

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