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Spot Reduction

The concept of spot reduction follows the false belief that training a specific muscle will result in fat loss in that area of the body. Not only does the fat not go away, this method never seems to go away either. For years the word has been out that spot reduction doesn’t work, yet popular workouts and recommendations continue to suggest that it does. Targeting “trouble areas” through isolated exercises in lieu of a comprehensive training approach is just as popular and ineffective as ever. Worse still, these workouts are sometimes administered by the very sources that tell us spot reduction doesn’t exist. Consumers are guided by magazines, the Internet and even trainers with programs that target “muffin tops” with side bends, “spare tires” with lower abdominal crunches, “granny arms” with triceps kickbacks and “saddlebags” with outer thigh exercises. If you are already lean, these exercises may be fine for defining muscles in the respective areas. But if the purpose is to get lean—meaning build or tone muscle and burn fat—this approach will likely leave you feeling frustrated and, ultimately, unsuccessful.
Spot reduction doesn’t work because it usually targets muscles that are relatively small through exercises that are relatively insignificant in terms of enhancing overall fitness, strength and energy expenditure—regardless of how much you “feel the burn” when training them. Overall fitness, not small muscle fatigue, is a stronger determining factor of your body’s fat-burning effectiveness. People who are very fit burn fat more efficiently during workouts and while at rest than people who are less fit.
Here is the reality—fat doesn’t melt. Technically, it doesn’t actually “burn” either. But “burning fat” is a more accurate depiction of the process (although it is completely unrelated to the “burning” sensation felt through some forms of exercise, which is discussed below). Fat does get released from fat cells for energy. Unfortunately, the systems responsible for this process do not take into consideration the parts of the body you would most like the fat to be drawn from.
The bottom line: You can try to cook a turkey with a candle, or you could use the oven. Prioritizing the smaller muscles without addressing the bigger ones is a pennywise and pound-foolish way to train. But if it makes you feel better to train the smaller muscles, save it for the end of your workout if you have time and energy. If you run out of time, you haven’t neglected anything, and if you run out of energy it’s because the other exercises worked!!