Can You Spot Reduce Body Fat?
"Will crunches help get rid of belly fat?"
"Will tricep extensions eliminate the fat on the back of my arm?"
and so on...
The short answer is kinda. Let's go over a couple of things first. When people ask if a specific exercise can help reduce body fat in a certain area, they are under the impression that body fat will be "burned" at that spot.
This however is not the case, or at least not a very effective case. Let me explain. Your body utilizes it's fat stores EVENLY from the body. Your body does not prioritize "fat burning" based on location, but rather on the amount of energy that is required from an external task. If your body is not required to expend a lot of energy then it says "cool, I'm just gonna keep everything running the same, all energy systems running in balance, I love balance! No change in energy systems needed!"
But what if your body is required to expend a lot of energy... Say during a short, high-intensity workout, then what does it say? Something like this "He's exercising again. More energy required. Divert all energy sources to performing that squat! He's doing more! We need more energy!"
Alright back to first person.
So think of your body as a system that always wants to create balance. When we place a beneficial stress on the body (like exercise) we are intentionally throwing the body out of balance to create a shock and awe on the system. The thing to remember though, is that one of the responses by our body is that it can utilize body fat as an energy source, but it utilizes it EVENLY. Not specific to certain areas.
So the question to ask is not whether exercise targets location, but rather what exercises require the most amount of energy to perform.
The more muscles recruited to perform an action, the more energy that is going to be required. The less or smaller amount of muscles needed, the less amount of energy required.
Incorporating a variety of push, pull, press and squat exercises will induce a higher amount of required energy than say tricep extensions or body weight crunches. Your body breaks down body fat evenly and one of the most effective principles to be open to is that the more energy required to perform an exercise, the more opportunity you have for your body to dip into an energy source that you want it to utilize. Like body fat.