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How Do I Target My Belly Fat?

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

One of the most common questions I've received as a personal trainer is "How do I get rid of this?" followed by pointing to whatever area that person would most like to reduce or eliminate.

What follows is the following 3-part discussion.

  1. The bad news

  2. How it actually works

  3. What to do about it

The Bad News

The bad news is that, despite what you might've heard, you cannot target a specific area for fat loss. Sit ups do not burn fat from the stomach. Tricep pushdowns do not reduce fat from the back of the arms. And side bends do not eliminate love hands.

This might come as a shock, but all those late-night infomercials selling the Ab Blaster 3000 have lied to you. You can no more choose to burn fat from a specific area of the body than you can burn gas from the upper left corner of your gas tank.

That's just not how the body works.

How It Actually Works

Many men tend to store fat primarily around the midsection and love handle area. This is called an android distribution. As a result, men tend to lose weight from the outside in. Their arms and legs will get leaner first with the abdominal region being the last to go.

Women, on the other hand, tend to store fat primarily around their hips and thighs. This is called a gynoid distribution. As a result, women tend to lose weight from the top down. Their upper body will lean out, then their abdomen, and finally the hips and thighs.

If your body doesn't fit into the fat distribution associated with your sex, don't get too hung up on it as they're just generalizations. What matters is that your body will have its own pattern and it will come off in the order it wants regardless of your exercise selection.

As a general rule, the first place you gain it is the last place you'll lose it. If you tend to store fat first in your abdomen or your thighs, that'll likely be the last place that it comes off. So don't waste time trying to target those areas to the detriment of others.

What To Do About It

Since there is no such thing as spot reduction, the best approach is to first establish a calorie deficit (eating fewer calorie than you burn) by paying attention to your nutritional habits. This is the most critical element of weight loss and is necessary in order to lose body fat.

Next, it is important to establish a strength training program in order to work each of the major muscle groups. Again, there is no benefit to doing extra exercises for the areas you'd like to lose fat, so focusing on all of the large muscle groups will have the greatest effect. By doing this, you'll help to create the toned physique you'll be revealing as you get leaner.

Finally, you need to be consistent and patient. As I mentioned earlier, the body is going to lose weight in the order that it wants. The secret is to approach your goal with the expectation of it taking time and focusing on a sustainable approach to get there.

If you do that, the fat will eventually come off where you want with no need for the Ab Blaster 3000.

Mark Young, BKin, is Head Personal Trainer at Heron Creek Yoga & Fitness, a locally-owned health facility located in the Ancaster Rotary Centre at 385 Jerseyville Rd W. Contact us for top quality professional care at our 10,000 sq ft facility which has plenty of equipment, a dedicated Yoga studio, and much more. Email:, phone 905-648-4571, ig @heroncreekyogaandfitness, fb heroncreekyogaandfitness

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