REMINDER:  9AM class is cancelled today.

I feel it’s rather fitting that today’s post is inspired by a CrossFit Invictus post written by Calvin Sun just as many of us head  down to CrossFit Invictus in San Diego today for the Invictus Open Weightlifting Meet.  Wish our Intrepid WLC lifters Jake, Al, and I luck or come out to watch the action beginning at 11am if you’re in the area!  Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Even if you’re not familiar with the term spot reduction, you’ve probably been exposed to the concept as it’s an extremely common marketing ploy within the fitness industry.  Spot reduction refers to the reduction of fat from a specific area of the body.  A very common perpetuation of the spot reduction myth is that performing abdominal exercises will help one lose fat around their midsection.  I hate to be a buzzkill (as this role is often reserved for Marcus) but exercising a muscle or group of muscles does nothing to help reduce the amount of fat that is stored around it (many of us may have first-hand experience when that damn ab roller didn’t do nearly what the infomercials advertised).  Abdominal exercises, however, may aid in the hypertrophy (increase the size) of the abdominal wall, but does nothing to reduce the fat that is stored on top of it.

If fat loss is your goal, Calvin puts it rather plainly that, “Performing hundreds of situps will do nothing to make your stomach any flatter.  The truth is you cannot spot reduce body fat, unless of course you pay a plastic surgeon to perform some rather invasive procedures.”

Please don’t misconstrue my message here, I’m not saying that abdominal exercises are useless.  Everyday we preach the importance of bracing and maintaining mid-line stabilization, and abdominal exercises are useful in improving both (if done correctly), as this should be our goal when performing any abdominal exercise.  If your goal is to obtain the sexy 6-pack like the guy or girl has on the infomercial, let’s take a long, hard look at your nutrition and lifestyle instead of trying different situp variations or, worse yet, wasting your money on whatever gadget the infomercial is selling.

A funny aside on a similar product; if you remember the thigh master, many folks purchased it in hopes of losing some of the excess fat on their thighs but after some regular usage many found the size of their thighs actually increased (hypertrophy) while no noticeable fat loss had occurred.  Coach Bill Starr actually wrote an article  a few months back in the CrossFit Journal entitled “Keeping Your Adductors Strong” where he mentions regularly using the thigh master to help build adductor strength in individuals with extremely weak adductors and folks rehabbing adductor injuries.  Contrary to what Suzanne Somers wants us to believe, the thigh master and similar products do not reduce fat in localized areas of our bodies, only serve to promote less than significant hypertrophy which we know we can attain more efficiently in much more challenging and fulfilling ways (like the WOD at CF Intrepid).

If you’ve learned nothing else just understand the fallacy behind spot reduction and despite what the “fitness” personalities on television are either blatantly or discretely saying, doing abdominal exercises does not significantly contribute to fat loss around one’s midsection…so don’t believe the hype!

WOD 02.05.11

In Teams of 2:
3 Rounds for time:
30 Box Jumps (as a team)
20 Med Ball Situp Tosses
2 Hill Runs w/ Med Ball

1 Response to “Debunking Conventional Myths: Abdominal Exercises & Fat Loss”

Michael H
February 5, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Have fun down there guys! I can already predict PR’s all around!