Want to know a secret? Like THE secret? The secret to losing fat? It’s actually no secret at all. This is the age old question everyone asks me, and one of the most common questions asked to any fitness professional is “how do I lose the fat around my (fill in the blank)?”. And if it’s a woman asking, it is usually accompanied by the infamous skin-pinching of the area they are asking about with a look of disgust. The short answer to this question is probably not what you want hear: you cannot spot reduce. I know, I hate that answer as much as you but it’s the truth! You can work out specific parts of the body to try to tone or build muscle but burning fat in certain areas of your body just isn’t going to happen. What’s the key to getting rid of fat, what’s the magic pill? I’ll give you the answer in one word: muscle! That’s right, building lean muscle is really the only way to get rid of body fat. Muscle actually burns fat while you’re at rest, so the buff guy at the gym is burning more fat just sitting still then you are during your sweaty cycle class. The more muscle you build, the more fat you are going to burn.
So how do I build muscle without looking like a meat-head, you might ask? One of the biggest misconceptions people (especially women) have about muscle is that once you start lifting weights you will blow up into the Hulk; it doesn’t happen like that. These bodybuilders and fitness competitors work REALLY hard to build that much muscle, tons and tons of calories, protein on top of protein, tons of supplements and hours of weightlifting. So while it is possible to build a body like a bodybuilder, it isn’t something you do passively, it takes commitment and a TON of food. To build lean muscle, you do need to hit the weights though. It doesn't have to be super heavy weights every day; it could be as simple as going up a couple pounds in your bar class, grabbing the tighter resistance band for arms in dance cardio, or grabbing the heavier medicine ball in your sculpt class. Weight training, along with adequate protein, is going to be the best way to build and maintain lean muscle. It is weight training, and can help tone and build lean bodies. And, to build the lean body you want it is a combination of weight training AND the right amount of protein.. One without the other will result in you burning through your muscle during your workouts (the result: “skinny-fat”) or just eating a ton of protein for the sake of eating protein. You need both to create and maintain muscle.
Here’s how it works. Weight training puts stress on your muscle fibers which then have to repair themselves. These repaired muscle strands increase in thickness as they repair creating muscle growth, as long as your body is adequately nourished and rested. You see, this process happens when you are resting, not while you are working out. If you are not nourishing your body between weight training bouts, you are just going to continue damaging these little muscle fibers so they never repair themselves which means they never have chance to grow to build lean muscle. The long and short of it is this: you can’t spot reduce fat (sorry!) but if you want to lose body fat you need to begin weight training while keeping yourself nourished and well rested!