Have some trouble spots where the fat won’t budge? That’s a common problem to have. Here’s how to blast away the fat from those hard to target areas.
Targeting Fat Loss With Exercise Does Not Work
It’s a very common question I’m asked: “what exercise can I do to lose fat from _______”. My answer is the same to everyone – you can’t target fat loss with exercise. I don’t blame these people for the misunderstanding, as workout routines promising tight abs or thighs are all over the internet and news stands.
Fat loss is not localized, it is systemic. When you work out a muscle, any muscle, it sends a signal to your brain to release fat-mobilizing hormones. These hormones are dispersed throughout your entire body in a matter of seconds.
From there, they pull fat from all over your body and send it through the blood stream to the muscle needing it for fuel. What doesn’t get used is again stored as body fat in various parts of the body.
We Each Store Our Fat Differently
Fat storage patterns are individualistic. Much of the way we store fat has to do with genetics, gender, hormones, and lifestyle habits. One person may have a propensity to store fat on their hips, while another may store their excess calories on their thighs.
This is important to understand, as just because one person has lean thighs and abs, it doesn’t mean you can mimic what they do and get the same results. Your success is going to be much more dependent on the complete understanding of your individual metabolism.
These Areas Have a Different Kind of Fat Receptor
Your abs, hips, butt, and thighs tend to be more stubborn in nature. This is because of their higher concentrations of alpha-2 adrenoceptors as compared to beta-2.
Alpha-2 areas have a much more difficult time mobilizing fat. This is partly due to their reduced blood flow. Good blood flow to fat cells is needed for the transport of fat-mobilizing hormones into the cells, and then getting the fatty acids away from the area to be used for fuel.
Managing Insulin Levels Can Shift Storage Patterns
Fasting has been shown to inhibit these alpha-2 receptors . This is more due to the low insulin levels resulting from periods of no food intake. Similar deactivation of these receptors can also be accomplished through improving your insulin sensitivity and better managing your insulin levels.
There are many ways to accomplish improved insulin sensitivity. For starters, engaging in exercise helps your muscle cells better utilize carbohydrates. This in effect lowers the demand for insulin.
Eating whole foods is also a good way to minimize stubborn fat creation. Due to these foods’ fiber content and slow digestibility, glucose is more slowly released into the bloodstream – resulting in less insulin being secreted. Of course, there are these ways to increase insulin sensitivity too.
High-Intensity Exercise “Targets” Trouble Areas
Now, I realize I said you can’t target fat loss with exercise, and you can’t – technically. In other words, doing situps isn’t going to make you lose more fat from your stomach. However, there are exercise protocols you can engage in that will influence your hormonal profile and insulin sensitivity, which in return has a direct effect on the way you store and release fat.
High-intensity exercise is one of those exercise protocols. Compared to steady-state cardio, HIIT burns more leg and ab fat, and also has a more positive effect on insulin resistance . The reasons for this are several fold. HIIT stimulates the release of fat-burning hormones like growth hormone . It also uses much more glycogen, which further improves your insulin sensitivity .
Patience is Key
We didn’t get to choose where the fat went on, and we don’t get to choose where the fat comes off. That is the way I heard it put one time, and I think it’s a great way to look at how we store and use fat.
Fat is one single entity. We lose and gain fat as a whole. We are either increasing or decreasing our total body fat percentage. As that percentage decreases, so does fat from all over our body.
Some of us might lose a higher proportion of fat from particular areas, but we’re still losing fat from all over our body. You will never see someone with ripped abs at a very high body fat percentage.
As with any kind of fat loss, patience is going to be key. These areas are stubborn and many times don’t start budging until we get down to lower body fat levels. They are usually the last places the fat comes off.
However, these body parts do eventually shed their fat if you maintain your energy deficit long enough, eat the right foods, and engage in high-intensity exercise. As long as you’re maintaining a steady reduction in body fat percentage you are making progress. Don’t waste your time trying to target fat loss.