Spot Toning: Possibility or Myth?

You’ve probably heard the claims that if you’re spot toning, you can practically change your body overnight.  So you have to wonder if spot toning is a possibility or a myth.  There are so many gadgets, supplements, nutritional products and exercise programs on the market these days telling us we can make over our body bulges here…and there.  It’s not surprising if we’re more confused than ever!

“Lose the belly.”

“Banish your trouble zones.”

“Drop stubborn fat off your thighs by drinking this special shake.”

But, can you really lose fat from specific places — and not others?

A recent study compared the results of women who focused on diet changes only and those who made dietary changes but also did abdominal strengthening exercises.

Researchers wanted to see if the addition of abdominal exercises had any bearing on belly fat loss.

And, the results?

Both the exercising group AND the non-exercising group saw almost identical results!

All of the participants lost overall body fat, reduced their BMI and lost belly fat.  The women who added abdominal exercises were no further ahead at reducing belly fat (or overall body fat) than their non-exercising counterparts.

What’s the takeaway on spot toning?

You can’t pick and choose where you want your body to lose fat.

Our bodies are each unique and they store fat differently based on our individual situations.

When we lose weight, our bodies decide where to keep fat and where to release it.

Factors such as our age, gender, hormones and genetics all play a role in how and where our bodies store fat.

But, can’t you spot tone?

So, if you can’t spot reduce certain areas of your body, can you “spot tone” them?  Well, sort of.

To achieve that 6-pack look, you can start working on your core training regimen.  Over time, you’ll gain strength and build muscle.  However, if you’re still carrying a hefty layer of body fat over your abdominals, you won’t be able to see this hard-earned definition.

Furthermore, only training one or two specific muscle groups on your body is not the most “functional” way to train.  All the muscles in our body work together to move us safely and efficiently every single day.

Our exercise regimen should be no different!

What does work to shed body fat and tone “trouble areas”?

Chris McGrath, ACE Fitness Consultant says, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  If you want to burn more fat and sculpt more muscle, increase your fitness level.”

He advocates for full-body resistance training exercises and focusing on larger muscle groups with simple bodyweight exercises such as the following:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups

McGrath also adds, “These movements incorporate large and small muscles, giving you far more bang for the buck.  Work them in a circuit fashion that promotes non-stop movement, and you can improve your fitness even more.”

Nutrition is the magic bullet!

Both groups in the study mentioned earlier had this one thing in common:  a change in dietary habits.  I know, what a shock, right?

The bottom line is that the food we consume (or don’t consume) has more effect on your bottom line.

A balance of proteins, healthy fats, fruits and veggies will give you a strong advantage in reducing your overall body fat.  Sorry if this wasn’t the “magic bullet” you were seeking, but nutrition truly does play a huge part in (re)shaping our bodies.

To get you started in the nutrition department, check out the Spicy Fat-Burning Chili recipe below, which has the metabolic boosting advantage of chili peppers to reduce your overall body fat.

Spicy Fat-Burning Chili


1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 pound ground turkey, lean

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bell pepper, any color

1-2 finely chopped Serrano or Jalapeño peppers (remove the seeds for less heat!)

2 cans (x 400mL) diced tomatoes, no salt added

1 can (400mL) red kidney beans

1 can (400mL) pinto beans

2 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin


Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the turkey, and cook until browned.

Add the onion, garlic and peppers, and sauté until tender.  Add the tomatoes, beans and spices, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, and simmer until chili thickens.  Serve and enjoy!

Please let us know if you’ve ever tried spot toning to reduce a body bulge.  If yes, how did it work out for you?  Are you surprised to find out that nutrition plays such an important part in shaping one’s body?  Have you included full-body resistance training in your quest to burn fat and sculpt more muscle?  As always, we love to hear from you so please comment below.

Categories: Blog, Exercise, Nutrition, Reducing Belly Fat, Spot Toning, and Strength Training.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.