Spot Reduction: Fact or Fantasy

For many years our obsession with reducing fat from one are of our body (know as “bodyfat spot reduction”) has launched a whole industry dedicated to selling us the latest and greatest 6-pack formula, workout plan or fitness gadget. Spot reducution remains today the holy grail yet it remains a widely held belief that spot reduction simply isn’t possible. So to get that 6-pack, doing plenty of crunches will not help you! Instead, fitness experts advocate a low calorie diet plus cardio and resistance training to achieve body fat reduction as a whole, but as to where this body fat will disappear from depends upon your genetics. This makes a lot of sense and lets face it, if you do thousands of sit ups everyday but don’t burn the fat over the top of your abs, I guess you’ll never see that 6-pack.

For me  the stubborn areas have always been hips, thighs and upper arms. For years I would concentrate on performing squats, lunges and triceps dips but never seemed to slim down those areas that much, until I changed my diet and really increased my cardio. Then things started to happen. I remember the trainer I had at the time telling me that spot reduction is a myth and that my genetics would determine my general shape and where I would gather fat and where I would lose fat from first. “Forget spot reduction” he would say, “just concentrate on fat burning and it will eventually happen.”

It was with interest then that I read a recent article about Bio-Signature Modulation which claims that spot reduction is possible with the right understanding of hormones, training principles and supplementation. Developed by Charles Poliquin over 25 years I was really interested to hear that many who follow it, claim it to work.  However, just like many claims in the past, is this really true or just more hype in an Industry known for tapping into people’s desire to achieve their dream body.

Whilst the program itself seems very complicated it claims that by determining the cause of the fat you can alter your diet to directly impact that area.  By controlling the blood sugar levels of the body with more frequent meals, reduced daily carbohydrate and also low GI food you can reduce fat in one area whereas, reducing consumption of simple sugars will help another area.  I don’t know of anyone personally who has ever followed this program but would certainly be interested in anyone’s view. Real science or more science-driven fantasy. The jury’s out…

My First Foam Rolling Exercise Class

About 5 years ago I was encouraged to try out the foam roller by my then gym instructor in New York.  I had no idea what it was or that it would hurt so much. Since that day I have never gone near a foam roller since. But a few months ago I was reading up about the foam rollers and I thought I would give it a go. I purchased one off of Amazon and began using it at home. With a bit of practice I found that I was able to get to grips with it much better than before but still wanted to make sure I was using it correctly.

Foam rolling for those who have never tried it is simply a way to improve recovery and reduce soreness. It has become one of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment and I think everyone should use one. It can work out kinks and knots in your muscles through self-myofascial release. It loosens muscles whilst promoting mobility. It can replace the BOSU or Swiss Ball trainer for many common exercises and is used very often in Pilates classes too to give a whole body workout.

So today I went to my first ever foam roller class. Never knew such a class existed but when my friend Kate told me about this I had to give it a try. Kate our class instructor asked if anyone had done foam rolling before. I eagerly raised my hand and she then produced a foam roller for me with lots of rubber spikes on it! This she said is a rumble roller and handed it to me with a smile whilst the rest of the class got a regular foam roller.

Kate then spend the next 45 minutes showing us the different movements and positions to hit troubled spots that none of us had reached before. She was able to adjust the exercises for those with small injuries so that we could all join in.  I have to say there were groans of pain from most of us – this thing does hurt – but Kate told me well done for sticking with my roller. There is no doubt it can be quite painful but as the saying goes…no pain, no gain.

TRX Suspension Training Class at Virgin Active

So many times when I am exploring new routines I focus specifically on cardio and neglect the toning and strengthening exercises. So when I first heard about TRX Suspension Training I was intrigued to hear that I could tone, sculpt and get a great cardio workout at the same time.

Being quite obsessive I read up all about this exercise. Was it a type of training or a piece of equipment? I wasn’t too sure. Well in fact TRX is a form of suspension training developed by the Navy Seals and then has permeated the fitness clubs. It relies upon harnassing the body as a natural form of resistance but by being suspended allows movements that would be impossible otherwise. Emphasis is on toning and strengthening and it is particularly good for the core. I wanted to do it!

So I research on the Internet how I could take part and I found  a class offered by Virgin Active GTC (Group Training Class) in Barbican, London. I did plenty of research first about the different exercises – I didn’t want to be caught out on the day! Knowing that it all orginated with the Navy Seals I knew it would be tough but I was up for the challenge.

When I turned up at the class it was full! A good sign. We were introduced to our trainer Paul who told us all about the benefits of TRX training and how it will improve our balance, flexibility, strength and cardio fitness and that we can choose our own difficulty level..that was good to know!

I have done so many routines of squats and lunges and so I knew that I needed to shake up my routine with something new – and I was excited by giving this a go! I know that the body can get stale with any repetitive routine. I can assure you that my body was in for a shock that day! I was asking so many questions to Paul and I am sure he must of thought I was the strangest client he had ever come across. What I loved about TRX was that in every exercise you could just shift your bodyweight to make the exercise harder or easier – we were taught by Paul about progressing and regressing each exercise and he demonstrated this with each new move.

The first move he had us doing was a plank where we had the put our feet through the straps. This was harder than it looked and laughter all round as many fell flat on their faces, but we all soon got the hang of it. We had to move our legs from side to side whilst holding in our stomachs and wow within a few seconds I could start to feel my abs working.  We continued into many more routines including lunges and tricep work – is there no muscle this device cannot hit! It seems not.

The acid test for me is always 2 days later and yes, my body was in agony. I know that this was the shock my body needed. I loved TRX and have continued to attend classes since. I have even asked my hubby to buy me my own TRX for Christmas. I am sure I can do it in the home and have seen many folks using it in the park too. I have now progressed to using the TRX rip-trainer which is a great addition to my workouts.