Morning Musings #3 – Spot Reduction & Abdominal Exercises

Happy Seis de Mayo everyone! (How is that for Spanglish?)

It is one day after Cinco de Mayo, and if you celebrated along with the rest of the nation, then you might be a bit tired while browsing your social media feed. Because of that, today’s post will be a simple read.

So whether or not you even did partake in some type of social activi-tays this weekend, the next topic may interest you, as it is one often discussed amongst gym-goers when they arrive at the gym after any major holiday.

“I just want to lose some fat around my love handles. I might do some crunches, maybe hold a plate on one end do some of those bends. How does that sound, Miguel?”
“Well I commend your intentions, however spot reduction is a common myth amongst gym-goers.”
“What is spot reduction?” you ask.

I’m so happy that you asked! Spot reduction is performing exercises, often in excessive repetitions, with the intention of directly burning fat at specific areas. Of particular interest is the spot reduction of abdominal fat, specifically the gut and possibly the inside of your thighs as well.

Abdominal Fat

“So Miguel, you’re telling me that I can do 1000 reps of crunches and it won’t burn a lot calories or change my physique? I’m confused…”

You have some awesome questions. You’re in the right path that you need to exercise in order to appropriately “burn” calories, but the mindset should be in using your WHOLE body in order to burn adipose tissue, or fat, at the abdominal area (or any other area for that matter). (-1)

So whether your goal is to look acceptable in a swimsuit in the next coming months, or to get shredded, you have a few options in regards to abdominal training and fat loss:

1. Perform push-aways.

Push Away: “…the simplest way to lose weight was to simply push away from the table. This act alone will do more for weight loss than both running and weight training put together.” (Credit to Mike Boyle)

To elaborate, your success on your physique related goals largely hinge upon your food and beverage choices. Often you know the proper foods to eat, but don’t act on that knowledge. If you don’t know what constitutes as “proper”, perhaps seek external mentoring in the form of a certified nutritionist, dietician, or coach who embodies a similar philosophy for healthy choices for eating.

2. Perform functional exercises in a variety of planes and angles.

When I start with a new client who is relatively new to exercise and abdominal work, depending on their physical limitations (found through a battery of tests and screens), I will designate various abdominal exercises. The ones that continually pop up in many of their programs are the following exercises:

Abdominal Exercises (Click the name to view a YouTube video of the appropriate exercise!)

Pallof Press: An anti-rotation exercise.

Courtesy of CP’s Chris Howard!

Front Plank: An anti-extension exercise

Courtesy of Kevin Neeld!

One-Handed Farmer’s Walk: An anti-extension, anti-rotation and scapular stabilizer exercise.

One Handed Farmer's Walk

Let’s take a second and appreciate that  no [cervical neck flexion] crunches, Russian Twists, or any amalgamation of other forms of 8 minute ab exercises made this list.


Why these exercises instead of crunches?

Because if you are already sitting down for multiple hours in one day, or you are twisted to one side as well, driving or crunching a phone to your ear in phone conferences. Why reinforce this pattern after sitting in a similar pattern for most of your day? Let’s reintroduce some movements that your body hasn’t had in a while. You’re here for change after all, right?

Anecdotally, I find that with an appropriate loading, these exercises are definitely no joke and will smoke anyone, given the appropriate coaching cues as well, because many of the time your compensations may come to light during these exercises.

So before you head to the gym today, share this post amongst your buddies, and burn those empty calories away!
Did you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
Did these provide some awesome abdominal exercise variations that you normally don’t do?
If you liked what you saw (and love Workaholics!), then please do me a favor and share this article with one close friend (either on Facebook or Twitter!) by clicking the appropriate button below.
Muchas gracias!



1- Katch, Frank, Priscilla Clarkson, Walter Kroll, Thomas McBride, and Anthony Wilcox. “Effects of Sit up Exercise Training on Adipose Cell Size and Adiposity.”Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 55.3 (1984): 242-47. Web. 5 May 2013.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s