By Andy Bruchey – One of the longest standing questions in the bodybuilding/fitness worlds is if spot reduction is actually possible. Many times over the 20 or so years I’ve been a personal trainer, I would have prospective clients tell me that they wanted to lose a little here, but not over there, etc.
Unfortunately, this is only slightly possible without undergoing various surgical procedures. Take a woman who wants to keep her breasts their current size, but take some inches off her hips. Yes, she’ll be able to take some or all of the size off her hips, but she will see a reduction in body fat everywhere else as well. Where, in her case, she will lose the most is solely dependent upon her genetics. Some people hold their weight in the hips, while others hold excess weight in their midsections. In keeping with our fictitious example, if the same woman was to try and lose copious amounts of fat from her thighs, there would be a substantial decrease of her breast size, as they are composed of fat.
Conversely, the same would hold true if, for example, a heavy set man with upwards of 25% body fat asked me to make his arm look muscular and defined. I could have him doing any number of bicep and tricep exercises, but all he would have is a stronger, more muscular arm hidden underneath the fat. If that client wanted to develop a muscular looking arm, he would have to restructure his nutrition, do a lot of consistent cardiovascular exercise, and lift weights in order to reach the hypertrophy goal he had set.
Genetics are the limiting parameters we all individually have to work within. We can certainly maximize our potential through hard work and consistent discipline, but altering them isn’t possible. If you are an endomorph, for example, you simply aren’t going to be able to lose weight as easily as an ectomorph, nor will you have the ability to generate as much muscle as easily as a true mesomorph. With hard work and consistency, however, results will come. Just be realistic about your genetic potential and don’t set goals that are impossible to achieve and get frustrated when you can’t reach them.
Andy Bruchey is the founder and owner of the Austin Fitness Center in Austin, TX and has been a personal trainer for 20 years.