When I frequent my gym, I never go into the ladies area. I find it just a bit TOO ‘lady-like‘ with its little pink dumbbells and petite machines designed for light lifting, not to mention the ubiquitous and ridiculous ‘hip toner‘ machine.
When I visited my gym a couple of days ago, out of curiousity I wandered through the ladies area just to see if anything had changed in there lately. Sadly, I discovered that nothing has changed since I wandered through there a few years ago. They still have the tiny dumbbells and there was that ‘hip toner‘ machine STILL!!! It is this machine in particular that got me thinking about what strength training / weight training can and cannot do for you, me and everyone else!
That ‘hip toner‘ machine reminds me of a huge misperception out there in the world of fitness that a lot of people have about “Spot Reducing“.
First of all, let me tell you flat out: SPOT REDUCING IS A MYTH! If you have extra fat on your hips, doing a million reps on that ‘hip toner‘ machine will NEVER reduce the fat on your hips. If you have excess flab on your abs, you can do a TRILLION crunches, sit-ups and leg lifts but it will never reduce the fat on your abdominal area. What it WILL do is build up the muscle under the fat in those areas. Therefore, you are actually working towards making an area you are trying to reduce BIGGER!! This is completely counterintuitive to your goal of reduction.
In order to reduce fat in any particular area of your body, please understand that you must lose fat OVERALL on your body. Fat loss is a global thing, either you lose it everywhere or you lose it nowhere. It will never melt off in one area only just because you are working the muscle under that fat to death. So, if you want to reduce fat, prepare to have it come off all over your body, not just in the area you most desire. In order to lose those larger hips or flabby abs, put yourself on a conditioning program designed to burn fat (ie. cardio or HIT) and also get yourself on an eating program that puts you into a calorie deficit (meaning you burn more calories each day than you consume).
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here though. If you are looking to lose fat, you should definitely continue to weight train, for several reasons. One important reason is that once you do lose the fat you will have a more toned and fit appearance with the better muscle definition that weight training will give you. Another important reason is that lean muscle burns more calories than fat all the time (which in turn will make your ability to burn fat, even at rest, much easier).
So, please never kid yourself that you can replace your fat with muscle in any particular area of your body or ‘spot reduce‘ the fat in one area only by weight training. It just doesn’t work that way.