You’ve been told spot reduction is impossible. You laugh at the ladies (and some men) wearing their ‘waist trimmers’ (don’t stop laughing at them) And you think to yourself “Just eat clean and train hard.” Right? Sure. That’s all I knew for the better part of a decade. You know these things too… but that doesn’t mean they help you do them consistently. (Stay with me here… it’ll all make sense very soon). I lived like a monk in pursuit of the perfect body for years. I watched everything I put in my mouth and sacrificed a lot. I would never eat the foods I loved — and never dared miss a meal for fear of losing ‘muscle’ On top of that, I trained excessively as often as I could. Did it work? Sure, well, maybe, but I could’ve gotten there an easier way.
Let me explain…
These days, I don’t spend hours in the gym. I’m building a business, have a beautiful family and work with a growing roster of guys across the globe. I eat fun ‘off limit’ food such as hamburgers and fries, ice cream and guess what? I found a way to look decent and feel great anyway. My bloodwork is top shelf, according to my doc. Plus, I enjoy the process a lot more these days. The diet isn’t a chore because I always have something to look forward to. The workouts are of my choosing, not some random roided up bodybuilder. I THOUGHT I had to eat dry chicken every day. I THOUGHT I had to do crazy workouts, buy a ton of supplements and wash it down with a fancy shake immediately after. But I now realize this is unsustainable when you have other priorities in your life. And all of my clients are in the same boat. But we know there’s a fine line there. You are on this site for a reason. You are not your average Dad Bod totin’, lethargic couch potato. If you read the TOT Optimization Bible (if you haven’t, what are you waiting for… you aren’t getting any younger), you know getting older requires you to find that 2% to improve your manhood, body composition and quality of life. That may mean TOT, shoring up your diet or smart supplementation. It’s no different in the gym. As a guy, you’ve probably dealt with stubborn belly fat at one time or another (unless you’re Jay Campbell)
The Belly Fat Solution
Now, according to science, you can actually spot target that stubborn stuff – with the right approach to training. Poor blood flow to certain areas of the body – obliques and lower abs for example – equats to poor fat loss from those areas. Hence the ‘stubborn’ term. But the right training strategy can shift calorie burning toward localized areas of fat storage. (Stallknecht, 2007) Blood flow and lipolysis (i.e. fat burning) are generally higher in subcutaneous adipose tissue adjacent to the contracting muscle. In layman’s terms, if you train your abs the right way at the right time, the belly fat on the outside of the abs will “burn” preferentially when you throw some conditioning work at it. Essentially, finish your workout going back and forth between an ab exercise and a conditioning exercise. Pick an ab exercise. Any movement will work. The goal is just to direct blood flow toward that area. For maximum effect, you want the ab set to last 45-60 seconds. Less than that and you won’t be getting as much blood flow to the region, according to an article on T-Nation. Then jump to a conditioning exercise. Any demanding energy systems activity will work here. Sprints, hill sprints, Prowler pushing, battle ropes, tire flipping, etc. You want the whole session to be non-stop for 10-15 minutes, supersetting the two exercises with minimal rest.
In a more recent study, the researchers tested this hypothesis with a small change – pairing steady state cardio (not HIIT) with circuits. In this study, combining circuit-based resistance training with steady state endurance exercise (i.e. 30 minutes at a steady pace on a bike) resulted in fat mass reduction adjacent to the trained muscle due to enhanced blood flow. In other words, train legs followed by cardio, and your leg bodyfat will reduce preferentially. One problem: Excessive cardio (or timing cardio and weights concurrently in this fashion) can have an “interference” effect on the muscular adaptations you want to occur after resistance training. If building muscle is your primary focus, exercise caution with this strategy and/or separate weights and cardio by several hours (or even days). Now, let’s be clear. This is only a couple studies as well. Many other studies stand in contrast, showing localized fat loss adjacent to trained muscles do not occur. No study stands on its own, especially those with small sample sizes. Further still, spot reduction is not something you need to worry about when you have a lot of body fat to lose all over. Focus on the big rocks of nutrition, starting with the Metabolic Blowtorch Diet.
FREE Download: Have a fair bit of fat to lose first? Need a place to start in 30 seconds or less? Grab this easily digestible (pun intended) two-page diet cheat sheet to simplify your diet without fads, quick fixes or calorie counting, courtesy of coach Mitch, free for TOT readers.
The Belly Fat Solution – Part II
There may be a way to dig into those stubborn fat stores even more so, combining the strategy above with this small addition. As you may have read in the TOT Optimization Bible, nicotine can help your body convert stored fat into energy that is then used by your muscle tissues. When your body is in a state of low insulin/glucose, using nicotine will help get stored fat out of cells and make it ready to be used as energy, like say, during cardio after weights when you’re carb depleted. The TOT Optimization Bible advocates for its use, with a disclaimer: “When you use nicotine in a nasal spray, gum or lozenge, it is much different than using a tobacco product. Tobacco is a known carcinogen, whereas nicotine is not. Nicotine, by itself in its pure form, has shown no adverse health effects. When used in conjunction with a fat loss diet, such as The Metabolic Blowtorch Diet, supplemental nicotine gum has been shown to suppress appetite. If it is combined with caffeine, these actions are enhanced. Lastly, nicotine can also help your body convert stored fat into energy that is used by your muscle tissues.”
About The Expert
Mitch Calvert is a transformation coach for men like his former self, with worse genetics than Chris Farley. Yes, the chubby dude from Tommy Boy. Get Mitch’s free Mansformation Cheat Sheet to simplify your diet and start shedding that stubborn belly fat.