Your Ab Workout Isn’t Working – Here’s Why

It seems logical — a toned tummy is the by-product of a million sit-ups. At least that’s what the late-night infomercials lead us to believe. Plus, gym-goers everywhere appear to be using Swiss balls, ab wheels and crunch machines to craft a chiseled core. Case closed: Targeting the midsection is the secret to a shredded stomach.

When we focus our attention on the science, this convenient way of thinking is not so convincing. The idea that we can pick and choose the part of the body we’d like to shape-up is misguided at best.

According to a 2007 study from the University of Connecticut, participants who underwent a single-arm strength training program didn’t just lose fat from one arm, their fat loss was generalized; meaning it came from all over. Similarly, in recent study conducted by Los Lagos University in Osorno, Chile, exercisers who complete single-leg exercises were able to reduce fat mass, though not necessarily in the singled-out body part.

Spot reduction implies that the best way to terminate body fat is to target it. That would mean that any less-than-desirable body part gets special attention; triceps extensions for the underarm area, leg extensions for the legs and crunches for the core. Exercise those trouble areas intently and fat will vanish in no time. On the surface the logic might appear to make sense. But, just beneath the skin, the process is playing out much differently.