Posted on: November 21st, 2017
STUBBORN AREAS OF FAT
We all have that one area that never seems to change, no matter how lean we feel we get, it just won’t budge!
Q: Can I remove fat from an isolated area of my body i.e hips, arms or thighs?
A: In short NO, but what you can do is improve your muscle:fat ratio by taking up resistance training and targeting the problematic area. Develop muscle tissue in your areas you are unhappy with and I am sure you will begin to see improvements. Remember muscle is dense and compact making it smaller in appearance than fat which we have no control over and takes up a larger surface area than muscle will.
Also to expand on the above I don’t mean just going into the gym and randomly lifting a few weights. In order to see significant change you must follow a structured, progressive weight training programme. Turning up and lifting what you like from one week to the next will only get you so far before progress stalls. Write everything you do down, work in 4-6 week training cycles and try to improve your numbers each week within each cycle.
Q: Does that mean there's no point in me doing arm work if I want to ditch the bingo wings?
A: Not necessarily, I think if you know there are areas you want to see improvement in this would provide a really good framework for some exercises that you could include in your training programme. In this instance you might opt for chin ups and close grip bench press as your main lifts in your programme, using these as a performance bench mark during your fat loss phase and giving you a direct focus on those areas you are keen to see improvement in.
Q: Why do certain areas seem to store fat more than others?
A: Males and females store fat differently, how you lose and regain weight can explain why some areas are problematic.
As a generalisation women may typically find that they lose weight all over their body when dieting but then notice when/if they regain weight that this begins to occur on the upper legs and hips.
Now, imagine this in the context of a classic yo-yo dieter: lose a little from everywhere and then regain a little on the legs....lose a little from everywhere and then regain a little on the legs...repeat for years and we can start to see why these areas can be an obvious problem.
This highlights the positive benefits of a longer term and sustainable fat loss programme done correctly rather than hugely restrictive periods followed by excessive binging and over indulgences or an aggressive fat loss phase with no plan for maintaining results after the goal is achieved.
Q: I'm getting leaner but my main area I want to see improvements in isn't budging, what shall I do?
A: Keep getting leaner!!! It has to come from there eventually. Be patient it will happen as long as the plan you are on has the fat loss fundamentals in place and you are applying them consistently.
Q: What lifestyle alterations can I make to see stubborn bodyfat improve?
A: Manage your sleep and stress better! Our judgement and willpower can be strongly compromised when we lack sleep or feel stressed. Organisation levels drop and we quite often let are guard down. This can mean eating on the go, consuming more high calorie junk food, and more frequent casual drinking coupled with a decrease in exercise and activity levels in response.
You cannot always control what stresses you out but you can control how you react to it. Make it a priority to take care of yourself and make time to look after your body. Yoga, meditation, walking, petting a dog or other animal, saunas, steam rooms, powernaps, breathing techniques, relaxing music, mindfulness, therapeutic treatments, better organisation in your life etc are all great ways to deal with stress.
Increase your energy expenditure, swapping one form of exercise for another doesn’t mean you are doing more, it means you are doing something different. My top tip is to get up early every morning and go for a brisk 30 minute power walk to burn extra calories, keep following your gym routine but throw this in and it’s amazing what it can do. Not only can you rack up some serious calories over a week but your stress levels will go down so win:win. Low intensity exercise is often overlooked due to being low intensity and not as ‘trendy’ as HIIT but this is something that some of the best bodies in the world do, which you don’t know about (walking doesn’t look as glamorous on Instagram as lifting heavy weights or prowler sprints…)
If you feel like you have hit a plateau you may benefit from adjusting your calories. Yes consistency is crucial but when progress stalls you need to look at what can be manipulated to keep things moving. For those of you sitting on very low calories, you may benefit nicely from a period of increased calories (coupled with an increase in exercise intensity and output). For those who are still working with a number which saw initial success, it may be time to reduce this number and kickstart your fat loss progress again.
Owner, Personal Trainer
Specialist Performance Personal Training