Saddle Bags and Workouts

Every so often I’ll get an email from a woman asking some variation of this question: What is the best exercise for losing fat in [fill in the blank for whatever area you’d like]? How ever the question is phrased, my response is always…’I wish I had the magic bullet exercise…but I’m sorry…it simply doesn’t exist’

Here’s the reality of spot reduction…It doesn’t exist. You can not ‘spot reduce’ fat in any area of the body. It is simply physiologically impossible. All of the core exercises…sit ups…crunches…leg raises…side planks in the world will not and can not preferentially flatten the mid-section or slim down the ‘saddle bags’. And trying so will be nothing more than a practice in futility.

So why doesn’t spot reduction work?

When too many calories are consumed (beyond energy needs), our bodies will convert the excess calories into fatty compounds called triglycerides, which are then packed and stored into specific cells called adipocytes (a.k.a. fat cells). These fat cells are located throughout the body and are pliable sort of storage spaces that will either shrink or expand depending on how much triglycerides are actually being stored in each of these fat cells.

When you exercise, these triglycerides are broken down into their constituent fatty acids, which are then transported through the circulatory system to the target tissues that will use them for energy. Because these fatty acids have to travel through the circulatory system to get to where they are needed, it is understood as efficient for these fatty acids to come from any area of the body (known as a systemic process). Note: All skeletal muscle contains a low level of fat stores that are used directly by muscle as potential fuel. These specific fat stores do not have any meaningful impact on one’s appearance, though) 

The Bottom Line: The proximity of fat cells to any muscles being ‘exercised’ is absolutely irrelevant from an energy use standpoint.

But…

You can improve the shape (aesthetics) of the lower body with resistance training exercises like Squats, Trap-Bar Deadlifts, Lunges (loaded if applicable), Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats…

 To make sure that you are effectively using these exercises for the purpose of ‘shaping’ (re-contouring) your lower body, you should have a clear and detailed journaling of the exercises mentioned above where consistent progression is monitored assuring that you are moving towards your goal. In short…build the awesome muscles of your lower body and shape your body the way you want it to look.

Not easy…but I promise it will be well worth your effort