Spot Training

Spot Training is defined as attempting to train one specific part of the body at a time.  It is used in gyms on a daily basis, but often times for the wrong reasons.  There are definitely some benefits of spot training, but there are also some negatives when it comes to this type of exercise.  Because many of you have probably heard of, and possibly tried, spot training, I want to explain some of the pros and cons for you.

The biggest misconception regarding spot training is that working one part of the body will result in overall fat loss.  I’ve seen it plenty of times before, and you probably have as well.  The belief that doing hundreds of situps and crunches will result in the loss of belly fat.  Well, unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.  Fat loss works by burning more calories than you bring in.  Your body actually burns fat from all areas during and after exercise, not just from the body part you have been working.  So why all of the crunches and core work??  Well, it’s called the core for a reason.  It’s the center of the body, and if it isn’t STRONG then the rest of the body will not function properly.

**Take away message:  You WILL NOT LOSE FAT at one specific spot by continually working that body part.  Fat loss will come from high-calorie, full body workouts that result in more calories out than in.  Doing just crunches won’t get you a 6 pack set of abs.

Now, when we are discussing the shape and size of our muscles, spot training can be VERY beneficial.  For most people, spot training can be used for muscle TONING.  Do not get this confused with fat loss.  We’ve already discussed how that happens.  You have to lose the fat first.  BUT, once you have lost fat, working specific muscle groups can lead to a more tone muscle and a better overall physique.  Spot training can also lead to muscular hypertrophy for those interested in gaining lean muscle mass.  It’s a simple principle, the more you work a muscle or muscle group, the bigger and stronger those muscles will become.

**Take away message: You can change the shape and size of muscles by focusing on one muscle at a time.  If you want more defined arms, pick up some dumbbells and do some curls or tricep presses.  If you want a bigger chest, hop on the bench press or throw in some pushups.

I hope this has cleared some things up for you and maybe even answered a couple of questions.  Spot training can be a very good thing if it is used in the right manner.  Know what you want out of your workouts.  If toning or hypertrophy is your goal, spot training is a must.  For fat loss, focus more on full body exercises with caloric expenditure the main goal.

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