Maybe you’ve heard the saying: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” This stems from the fact that changing your diet will always yield much more drastic results than changing your workout plan. This is not to discredit exercising, but simply admitting to the fact that diet is more important than exercise.
Diet > Exercise:
You will see more success on good diet paired with 3 hours of light exercise a week, than on a bad diet paired with 7 hours of intense exercise a week. Really. It’s that important (The New York Times agrees with this).
Ok, now that we all understand that diet is really really important, let’s move on to the second focus of this post: The ridiculous belief that someone can get abs by doing endless sit ups, or a “thigh gap” (ugh) by spending hours on the thigh adductor machine.
You can’t spot reduce!
No, really, you can’t, so stop trying. And when there is a magazine or a workout plan with the title “Get a flat stomach with these core exercises!” or “Blast Back Fat!” they are misleading you and not giving you the full picture.
This is because if you want a flat stomach or a fat-less back, you need to lose fat and gain muscle. Doing those “spot treatment” muscle exercises will certainly help you build some shapely lean muscle mass, but that’s only half the equation. The next part is losing the layer of fat over your shapely muscle. And unlike muscle, you cannot spot reduce fat. Yes, you can spot-build muscle, no, you cannot spot-reduce fat. Fat doesn’t work like that. It just doesn’t.
So how do you lose the layer of fat and reveal the glorious muscle underneath? It requires lowering your overall body fat percentage… everywhere.
As far as reducing your overall body fat percentage, there are many different methods that can help you achieve this, albeit, some are much more effective than others.
Different Methods of Reducing Body Fat:
1) Get your diet under control. This is simultaneously the easiest & most difficult way to cut down on body fat. And getting your diet under control does not necessarily mean eat less, it means eat right. Proper nutrition is hard, even for the most experienced athletes and nutritionists, because it requires consistency. Frankly, eating healthy all day, every day, is more effort than banging out a one-hour workout & being done with it. A good place to start is cutting processed foods out of your diet. And soda. Screw soda.
2) Integrate HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training) into your exercise routine. Interval training is much more effective than steady-state cardio for burning fat. Interval training is short bursts of high intensity activity cut with with rest periods of low-intensity activity in-between.
A study from the University of New South Wales followed the fitness and body composition changes in 45 overweight women in a 15-week period. The women were divided into two groups and assigned interval or continuous cycling routines. The interval “sprint” cycling group performed twenty minutes of exercise, which repeated eight seconds of “all out” cycling and then twelve seconds of light exercise. The continuous group exercised for 40 minutes at a consistent rate. At the end of the study, the women in the interval group had lost three times the body fat as the women in the continuous exercise group. (Marks Daily Apple)
3) Find something you like, be consistent, and most of all, be patient. The body is capable of amazing transformations, but it will always take time, and consistency.
- A healthy diet is more important than exercise, but exercise is important too.
- You can spot-increase muscle, you cannot spot-reduce fat.
- A rockin’ bod is made by a combination of building muscle and reducing fat, you cannot ignore one or the other.