Myth: You Cannot Target Fat Loss

Okay now that I have your attention, that is most definitely a myth. However, you CAN target muscle building. Let me say that again: muscle building can be targeted. Here’s the thing, I have been very active in the wedding forums as well as the fitness and weight loss forums and almost every question that asks something like “how can I get abs?” is first and foremost responded with “remember that you cannot target fat loss.”

Let me tell you, I have been (hard) at this fitness thing for two years now. I have gone through all stages of weight loss, weight gain, and weight maintenance. Here’s what I have learned, whatever muscles I use day in and day out are the strongest muscles on my body. If I choose to keep drinking, particularly beer, I will have a gut. I might have the strongest abs on the block, but they will still be hidden by adipose tissue. So, no, you cannot target fat loss. But you can also target fat gain and maintenance.

If you are like me and you have a wedding dress without sleeves, you probably want to make sure your arms look nice. This does require being conscious of the food that you put into your body and making sure that some sort of calorie deficit exists to promote overall fat loss. You also need to make sure that you are exercising in such a way that promotes building both biceps and triceps. Hold your arm out relaxed like the flexed bicep emoji (💪). Wave it gently from side to side. See any jiggle? Where is it jiggling? Look closely, it’s probably a little bit of everywhere (unless you’re flexing, I didn’t tell you to flex). Work both sides. Stand sideways without a shirt on and look in the mirror. Where is the extra fat? Front and back. If you want abs, don’t just focus on getting a six pack. Focus on both your front and your back, and even your sides, you will be impressed with the results, I promise.

The thing that disappoints me about responders on the forums is that I think it is so tempting to quit when you hear “you can’t target fat loss.” If we instead changed the initial response to, “the best way is to focus on building muscle on a diet” I think people would be far more encouraged to pursue their goals. Even if you are operating on a calorie deficit, you should still exercise with the intention of building muscle. It really is the best way to lose fat because the muscle displaces the fat. One more anecdote before I get out of your hair, and I promise this will be the very last thing I say so if you don’t want to keep reading, by all means, jump ship. I have the Nexplanon implant. Whenever I start building arm muscles, I can feel the muscle moving it around. It causes soreness sometimes, and this is a known thing to happen. But in truth, I love it. I love it because I can feel the progress long before I can see it. It’s like a wonderful non-scale victory to remind me that every day I show up for my workouts, I am doing something great.


Published by She Got The PhD

A web-based soapbox of an Assistant Professor of color in Chemical Engineering; sharing my feelings on books, academia, and current events. I hope you enjoy reading :)

2 thoughts on “Myth: You Cannot Target Fat Loss

  1. Hi Britany,

    great tips. It is life style, to eat healthy food and to work out in the gym. But we should not be too restrictive. We will be in the good shape with good food because that is the most important thing, and with some training !


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