Looking For The Best Of JCDFitness? Click Here »

Spot Reduction: Ass, Thighs and Abs

In a recent conversation with a female that was once grossly overweight, I was told about her discovery of some interesting information she found on the internet.  While she’s lost a lot of weight, her dissatisfaction with her appearance is uncanny.  I think she looks great, actually.

She explained to me that despite dropping the weight over several months, she feels she needs to do more.  When I asked her what else she thought she could do besides watch her diet, work out and be patient, she responded with “can you tell me more about spot reduction?”

And here we go, folks.

Spot Reduction: How Does It Work?

Spot reduction is the ultimate tool in your fat loss arsenal.  Without it, you are nothing.

Spot reduction is the process of picking an area on your chubby body and focusing all of your attention on obliterating the adipose tissue of said physical location.

Think of it like this.  If you want to lose all of that fat on your abs, you better blast away at 100 rep sets of floor crunches, weighted crunches, dragon flags, side planks, bridges, oblique bends and leg raises… all at the same time, during the same workout while smoking a cigar and saying your ABC’s backwards in sign language.

No, seriously, this is the key to losing fat in the places you want to.

It also goes for your glutes; got a lot of fat on your hind parts?  If so, you better get to performing hours of lunges and body weight squats until you pass out.  Want to get rid of thigh fat?  You better make the adduction and abduction machines your best friends.  Oh and make sure you call in early to reserve them, because 5 sets of 100 reps is what it’s going to take.

I Want The Truth!

You might not be able to handle it, really.  The truth is spot reduction does not exist.  The same goes for fat loss exercises; it’s okay to fantasize, suppose.

Spot reduction is a fat loss concept made up by some doodad in the fitness world many years ago.  He/she probably didn’t mean any harm, but like many others, they were either misinformed or just a blatant BSer/liar.  As a result, we’ve a myriad of misguided folks in a never ending journey for a magic bullet.

Fat Loss Patterns

First, you must create the deficit.  Once the deficit and all other variables (training, diet, protein, sanity, etc.) are taken care of, fat melts off the body, ahem, in a particular pattern.  The pattern in which your fat leaves your wondrous bodily temple is all up to Mother Nature.  Yes, you can thank your wonderful genes for how you store and lose body fat.

Now let us take a look at normal fat gain/loss patterns for the general population.

Females: When you gain fat, it seems to go straight to your ass and thighs, right?  Then, if you gain more weight, you fill out a bit in the other areas such as your stomach, breasts, and then limbs.  Now when you begin losing fat, you find the areas carrying the least amount of fat are the ones to lose fat first while your ass and hips seems to lose fat last.  This is all due to genetics and there is nothing you can do about it!

Men: We tend to gain fat first on our lower abs, then ass, lower back and eventually, a ton of visceral fat.  This explains why you see a bunch of older guys walking around with beer bellies and skinny limbs.  After the initial fat gain, the fat distribution just keeps adding to the problem areas and eventually adds to the limbs.  The same circumstances apply for men as for women.  The fat gained last will come off first and the fatty tissue that accumulates first will be the last to go.  It’s just the way it is, folks.

So, when you are very anxious to get rid of your flabby ass, thighs and lower abs, remember that the rest of your body will become leaner first and your problem areas will lean out very last.

In fact, many female contest bodybuilders will require special training to eliminate the last bit of lower body fat while prepping for a show.  It’s not uncommon for competitors to have a really lean upper body but a soft, squishy lower body during their show.  This can be resolved by using a special protocol to burn stubborn body fat.  Lyle has a great resource called The Stubborn Fat Solution which further explains exactly how to go about obliterating stubborn body fat on the abs and lower body(for women).

The Real Spot Reduction

Unfortunately, the only way you can experience spot reduction is by liposuction and in my opinion, the risk outweighs the reward by a long shot.  The problem with liposuction is much like any other surgery; the chances of infection and complications are always present.  Plus, there are no lifestyle changes associated with the surgery.  A person doesn’t learn how to change their eating and exercise habits; they just pay a lot of money to have their fat removed and possibly sold to them at a later date in the form of designer soap.

A much better tactic would be to utilize a scientific approach to crash dieting and eventually move onto a more moderate approach.

I hope I didn’t burst your bubble today, but in case you were still wondering about the possibility of spot reduction, you can now put that myth to rest!

About the author

JC Deen

JC Deen is a nationally published fitness coach and writer out of Nashville, TN. Get more from JC here: Twitter | Facebook| JCD Fitness

“If You STILL Struggle With Your Weight, You’re Being Sabotaged By One Of These 6 Psychological Pitfalls RIGHT NOW!”

Discover What Holds You Back

Leave a comment:

Kylee - May 31, 2011

Another excellent post JC we all know spot reduction doesn’t exist but I loved this part “You better make the adduction and abduction machines your best friends. Oh and make sure you call in early to reserve them, because 5 sets of 100 reps is what it’s going to take.” lmao. Weight/Fat loss is 80 % nutrition and 20% exercise to me as long as I am willing to kick my arse 100% and do suitable exercises correctly. Cardio used to be my friend until I found weights and body weight exercises added beautiful curves to my body whilst building sexy muscle.
I hope other women read this post and see that healthy eating in moderation, plus proper workouts with weights and body weight will help them achieve their goals .

Dave - January 20, 2011

I have switched from using the weight machines for half my workout to doing all cardio/fat burning stuff. Elliptical, Treadmill, Stairmaster. None of the weight lifting is going to help until I drop the 20 lbs or so I need to lose before the abs and muscles even start to show.

Great info here! I will be back to read more!

Stefan - February 9, 2010

Good article, especially liked the fight club reference at the end lol

Richard Walker - February 9, 2010

It is really appreciable. You just have raised the naked truth which many of us frighten to disclose. Enough is enough. We have already spoiled our valuable times, labor, money and in return we earned nothing. We need to come out from the fantasy as well as our traditional way of training and need to grind our old thoughts which are not only most primitive, most immature and unscientific also. You just guide a lot. Thanks a lot. May God bless You.

Ibrahim | - February 3, 2010

Finally someone who will tell it like it is. Cheers JC!

Julie - January 14, 2010

Great article JC! it’s nice to see some diet and exercise myths being exposed.

Nice work :)

Karell - January 7, 2010

This is the first time I’ve visited your site and when I say the title of this article, ‘Spot Reduction…’ I responded with “…doesn’t exist!” in my head. I’m glad we’re on the same page, so this probably won’t be last visit here. :-)

FitJerks Fitness Blog - January 6, 2010

“Spot reduction is the ultimate tool in your fat loss arsenal. Without it, you are nothing.”

Heh.. made me chuckle with that one dude. But shouldn’t it be: “without it, you are a fat ass”. Because nothing would be no fat.

Jody - Fit at 52 - January 5, 2010

It amazes me that people still believe this spot reduction stuff. I can’t tell you how many times, even recently, that I have to tell people that doing a billion crunches is not gonna get you flat abs.. you got to burn that fat off first to see what is under there! I get the question on knee fat all the time!

As for that friggin lower tummy fat, I know all about that. It is part of my body type & no matter what I do, it is there. Even when I did bodybuilding in my late 30’s, it was right at the very end of the dieting phase, right before competition, before it was flat.

For me, if I had the money, I might consider some form of minor lipo just because I do everything I should just short of eating a bodybuilding diet every day & that is not feasible. I know what it takes to be lean yet that lower tummy has been my bane forever. At my age, it is so much harder than even when I was 45! Hormones & age make it WAY harder for women!

But I agree, for those that have not learned the lifestyle change in terms of food & exercise, they need to do that first.

    JC - January 6, 2010

    thanks for your input.

    It’s really frustrating that people are so influenced by all the old dogma lingering around despite all the science backed research we have at our disposal nowadays.

    I guess this is where we come in, eh?

Erin - January 5, 2010

JC, you know there is someone out there who only read the first section and now is doing bodyweight walking lunges as we speak. Supersetted with crunches. For 2 hours.
I kid, I kid. God, I hope I’m kidding.
Keep knocking down the houses of cards, kid.

    JC - January 5, 2010

    I hope you’re kidding too!!

Dave - January 5, 2010

Nice one JC!

You obviously missed the latest study from Denmark:

According to research in Denmark, the impossible may not be so impossible! Ten healthy male performed 3 sets of high rep unilateral leg extensions, resulting in greater blood flow and fat breakdown around the exercised muscles.

Stallknecht, B. (2007). “Are blood flow and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue influenced by contractions in adjacent muscles in humans?” American Journal Of Physiology Endocrinol Metabolism. 292 (2):E394-9.

LOL :) I know, it’s only ONE STUDY, just wanted to “get your goat!” :p

Hey are those “Current” abs in your profile pic?!? If so, DAMN YOU! LOL :)

Happy new Year,


Yum Yucky - January 4, 2010

I lost weight in my ass. I’m pretty much disappointed.

    JC - January 4, 2010

    me too!

    edit: disappointed that is…

Anna @ pathtofatloss - January 4, 2010

JC, love the article. Already tweeted it. For awhile there, I thought you went to the dark side…haha. I like how you were so truthful and clearly got the trends right. Sanity is definitely a big part of the equation :)


    JC - January 4, 2010

    the dark side… I straddle the line sometimes 😉

Joe - January 4, 2010

Will pre-WO carbs hinder the effectiveness of the dragonflags in spot-reducing my kankles?

I enjoyed the liposuction/soap comment.

    JC - January 4, 2010

    pretty much yea.

    and name that movie!

Dave Ridarelli - January 4, 2010

I always have to remind some clients that a thousand crunches or tricep exercises isn’t going firm and tone anything that jiggles. The muscles might look great underneath but all the spot reducing in the world isn’t going to help with the real culprit of high body fat percentage.

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: