Have you ever tried to lose weight or create more muscle definition in a specific part of your body? Do you only focus on exercises that target those specific areas to try and reach your fat-loss goals? If so, you might have noticed that this method doesn’t work. But why?

This approach to physical fitness is called spot training, and we’re here to tell you why it doesn’t work and what you can do instead to achieve your desired physique.

Let’s get started.

What is Spot Training?

Spot training—also called spot reduction—is the idea that you can lose fat in an isolated area by doing spot-specific exercises without affecting other parts of the body. For example, spot training implies that a person could do 100 sit-ups a day for a month and this effort alone would result in stomach fat loss and a six-pack. Unfortunately, fat reduction doesn’t work that way. 

Why is Spot Training a Myth?

Spot training is a myth because of the way our bodies function on a physiological level. Each person’s genetic makeup (and to some extent their hormone levels) determines where and how their body stores subcutaneous fat (the layer of fat just beneath the skin) and what fat stores are used for energy.

In other words, when you exercise, your body requires energy to perform those movements. The body gets this energy from fatty tissue that has already been stored throughout your body. These fat cells release fatty acids into the bloodstream that travel to the muscles that are being used where they are, then metabolized into energy. 

Spot training doesn’t work because your body pulls fat for energy from all over the body and not directly from the area being used to perform a movement.

For example, when you do a sit-up, your abdominal muscles are being utilized to perform the movement, but the energy source isn’t necessarily being pulled from your abdomen. Instead, the body sources energy (fat) from your entire body to provide energy to those core muscles performing the sit-up. 

This is the same reason why waist trainers don’t help with spot reduction. Just because you sweat in a specific area doesn’t mean that the energy being burned to create that sweat is coming from that same region of the body.

Burning fat in a specific region of the body isn’t something anyone can control. Just like breathing, our bodies do it on their own without conscious decision from us.

While spot training isn’t possible, spot toning is. 

What is Spot Toning?

Spot toning is the process of working a certain body part to increase muscle tone. This can only happen if a small amount of fat is covering that muscle to begin with. With little existing fat overtop, the muscle can become more defined and toned through specific exercises. 

How to Spot Tone

You can spot tone by performing strength training exercises that strengthen the specific muscle or muscle group in the desired area. This can be done by doing bodyweight or resistance training workouts and isolating different movements to grow certain muscle groups. For example, performing a bicep curl targets the bicep muscles, making them grow and create definition. 

Resistance training can increase the size of a muscle group. When resistance training is paired with a reduction in body fat, the appearance of that area looks more defined and “toned”.

New to strength training? Follow lululemon Studio’s handy guide on How to Do Strength Training at Home Without Equipment.

How to Lose Fat

If you are starting with some body fat in the area you desire to be more defined, work on fat loss first. The best way to lose fat is by upping your cardiovascular workouts while incorporating some strength training and eating a balanced diet.

Cardiovascular activity is proven to help with fat loss while gaining muscle actually helps you burn fat at rest. More lean muscle mass also means more calories burned during exercise since leaner muscles require more energy to move than underdeveloped muscles.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and approaching fat loss with the proper exercises will help you work towards your spot training goals more effectively.

How to Spot Tone & Lose Fat at Home

To lose fat and spot tone at home, the best approach is to find an online workout solution that works for you and invest in the necessary workout equipment. Without the proper coaching and equipment, it can be difficult to achieve your fitness goals if you’re a beginner. While spot toning is possible without equipment, no equipment does limit how much muscle you can build. Make sure your fitness routine has a focus on cardiovascular exercise and workout classes that can help tone such as Pilates, barre, or lululemon Studio’s Sculpt classes

Staying motivated at home can be challenging as well. That’s why it’s important to find a workout solution that keeps you interested with a variety of workouts, fun and motivating instructors, and workouts that push you just enough to see and feel results, but not so hard that you’re discouraged and don’t feel like returning. Look for online workout programs with varying intensity levels for each class and those that offer different types of cardio and strength training classes to help you achieve your fat loss and muscle toning goals.

lululemon Studio’s Strength: Total Body classes focus on both strength and cardio to help you burn calories towards fat loss.

Get Fit With lululemon Studio

lululemon Studio is the nearly invisible home gym that’s a sleek piece of home decor when it’s off and an interactive smart gym when it’s on. With lululemon Studio, you can join live workout classes, catch them on demand at a later time, or get some one-on-one time with our personal trainers.

lululemon Studio offers a wide range of workout classes including Sculpt, Cardio + Strength, and more. These classes range in difficulty and length of time, so they’re perfect for all fitness levels and all lifestyles. lululemon Studio classes are designed to keep you interested, motivated, and working towards achieving your fitness goals while feeling supported by a like-minded community.

With over 10,000 workout classes to choose from across 50+ categories, you’ll approach fitness, weight loss, and strength training holistically. A well-rounded fitness routine is the best way to achieve long-term, positive results from the inside out. 

Download the lululemon Studio App today and get FREE access to our library of over 10,000 classes and over 60 workout categories for 30 days.