Fitness & Equipment Guides > Fitness Myths: Targeted Fat Loss

Fitness Myths: Targeted Fat Loss

26th Jul 19

The fitness world is full of amazing discoveries and new health trends daily. Sadly, not all of them are entirely accurate. It would be easy to meet your goals in a perfect world and find little fitness shortcuts, but sometimes, it’s just not the case. So we’re here to point a few of them out to make sure you’re doing what’s best in the long run and not making false expectations and unhealthy goals or workouts! This time, we’re looking at targeted fat loss.

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What Is Targeted Fat Loss?

Man exercising arms for targeted fat loss

Targeted fat loss is the idea behind burning fat from one particular area of your body. Usually, that’s your arms, thighs, bum or abs. There’s a good reason for that too. These are the areas of your body where fat builds the easiest, so that’s where it stays. To get rid of this fat, many diets and exercise plans suggest that doing exercises there will burn that fat, like ab exercises for a smaller stomach.

Why It Doesn’t Work

Most people have tried or believed it at some point or another. It is pretty much everywhere, after all. Sadly though, it is a myth. Targeted fat loss does not work. There are many reasons for it too, and we’ll talk you through it.

First of all, fat loss itself. Losing weight and fat, in particular, is done through burning stored energy. That’s what fat is. As you exercise to get more energy, your body breaks down stored fat into useful chemicals that go to wherever you’re exercising and keep you going strong. That fat can come from anywhere, and sadly, not just where you’re exercising. It goes into your bloodstream from all over the place until it gets to where it needs to be, and thus, no targeting involved.

Secondly, targeted fat loss can actually work against you in the long run. You might be trying to lose some fat from your arms, for example, and so do constant arm exercises to try and achieve it. The issue? That means

  1. You aren’t burning as much fat as you would doing cardio or other exercises.
  2. You are neglecting the rest of your body and overtraining simultaneously.

These are both huge issues that you need to address for the sake of your health in the long and the short term. But, unfortunately, doing this will make things harder for you, even if you work harder than ever before.

How To Burn Fat

Woman squatting for compound exercise

So what do you do instead of trying to target fat loss? Well, there are a couple of things. The first thing that you need to be making sure that you do is cardio or HIIT exercise. This is where you’re burning the most calories per workout, and that’s what you need if you’re going to burn off some excess fat, alongside your diet, of course. It happens all over your body, not just where you want it. That’s actually a good thing in the long run. Trust us.

On top of cardio, strength exercises are still a good idea too. When you train in the area you want to lose the fat from, you’re going to improve your muscle definition, and that’s a good start. What’s even better, though, is compound exercises (like these). They make you work more muscle than you do outside of the compound workout and burn more calories. Not only do you burn more in the workout, but you raise your resting energy expenditure AND get the afterburn effect too. Talk about efficiency!


Before you go and start your awesome newly found exercise methods, there’s another VITAL thing you need to think about, though, and that’s your diet. Ultimately, fat loss is dependent on your diet more than anything else. Therefore, you need to be consuming under your daily caloric maintenance needs to burn fat at all, usually by around 250 calories per day in a combination of diet and exercise.

If you’re just exercising your heart out but still eating more calories than you need, you are still going to put on more weight. You’ll build more muscle as a result, don’t get us wrong, but you won’t be burning fat since all that energy you’re using is coming from the food you eat THAT SAME DAY. Fat is stored from earlier, and you could be storing more.

Basically, you just can’t get targeted fat loss, and it is nothing more than a myth. It’s a nice thought, but nothing more. Fat loss is much more complicated, and it is not an easy thing to come across. Find a way that works best for you to exercise regularly in a way you can enjoy. That’s the best way to be healthy in the long run.

For more info, check out our fundamentals of weight loss!

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.