The Spot Training Myth

About a month ago, I posted about how my friend Priscilla wanted to lose weight before she went away to Thailand.   Let me apologize to her first, for using the name Priscilla as her pseudonym, and explain that she is NOT prissy by any means.  However, in spite of her probably wanting to kill me after I mention her again in a posting, I really do have to mention her warped sense of health and fitness, which is certainly probably shared by at least a few other people.

Let me share an excerpt from an IM conversation we had a few weeks ago. (OMG, she is going to KILL ME; good thing she’s still in Thailand).

Priscilla55: so my friend at work told me

Priscilla55: i should do sit ups with a bar

Priscilla55: then ill have abs of steel

FitFiend: so why did your friend tell you that?

Priscilla55: i asked him if i lost weight

Priscilla55: and how i can lose weight in my abdomen

FitFiend: and what did he say?

Priscilla55: he said to use a bar

Priscilla55: and do sit ups

Priscilla55: and the oblique table

FitFiend: holding a bar above your head while you do sit ups will make you lose weight in your abdomen?

Priscilla55: sets and do them fast

Priscilla55: i think that is what i understood

FitFiend: uhm, it doesn’t sound like you did understand

FitFiend: how are his abs?

Priscilla55: solid

Priscilla55: he doesn’t eat any junk

Priscilla55: like tuna

Priscilla55: eggs

Priscilla55: wheat bread if that

FitFiend: that how you have to be

Priscilla55: he’s one of those neckless guys

Priscilla55: he wants to be big

Priscilla55: no i want a neck

Priscilla55: and i don’t want to be big

Priscilla55: i don’t care for muscle

Priscilla55: i just don’t want to jiggle

FitFiend: part of toning down is getting some muscle

FitFiend: you should do sculpt classes

Priscilla55: my friend said

Priscilla55: i have to give up chips too

Priscilla55: not just ice cream

FitFiend: you didn’t say chips before!

Priscilla55: i cant give up soo many things ok

FitFiend: you have to give up your crap snacks

Priscilla55: all at once

FitFiend: you can do it for like 2 weeks.


Now, in Priscilla’s defense, she is by no means very jiggly, and probably weighs in at the low end of what might be considered optimal for a chick at 5’4, but, she feels the need to reconstitute her body. 

Unfortunately, this is something that can only be done by exercise and healthy eating habits, not one or the other.  What Priscilla was describing, by talking about getting a solid stomach by doing ab exercises, and well, nothing else, is spot training.  I would think that most people realize that spot training does not work, but a small number of “newbies” probably think that it will lead to results; it won’t.

In a vacuum, all the crunches in the world will not melt away the fat around your tummy.  If anything, doing a lot of ab training will serve to build the muscle of your abs, and which might even make your stomach look bigger if you aren’t doing anything to lower your body fat (like cardio and a caloric deficit).

Now, I say that Priscilla has a warped outlook on health and fitness because she believes in spot training and also, doesn’t really believe she needs to eat properly.  She actually went into greater detail about what exactly she eats everyday, which is simply pretty bad; snacking (on crap) all day.  This is certainly not something that will help her get that tone body she wants. 

Her takeaway from the conversation with her friend was that she could eat all the crap she wanted, do those ab exercises, and get a tone stomach.  Only if she wanted to get big and muscle-y does she need to eat properly.  Still, she has only recently made the commitment to leading a healthier lifestyle, and I’m sure will be able to incorporate a healthier, more sensible outlook on her own fitness.  As I’ve said before, start small because trying to make an overnight transformation will probably lead to a quicker failure. 


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