Every single day – without fail – someone will email me, or leave a comment on this website, or send me a message on Facebook, or a tweet on Twitter, or make some form of communication with me where they ask me the following question:
How do I lose [insert some body part here] fat?
Every. Single. Day.
- How do I lose stomach fat?
- How do I lose arm fat?
- How do I lose back fat?
- How do I lose thigh fat?
- How do I lose chest, neck, face, belly, butt, hip, lower back, lower stomach, lower chest, inner thigh and back-of-the-arm fat?
Every single day of my life, for over a decade now, I’ve been asked some version of this question. Often more than once. Often A LOT more than once.
So, I’ve decided it’s time to write an article that answers it once and for all, which I will then direct all future askers-of-this-question to in an effort to save myself some time and sanity.
The best part? It’s only going to take a simple 3-step process.
Are you ready? I sure as hell am.
Step 1: Identify The Problem
Let me know when this sounds familiar.
You have some fat you want to lose from a specific area of your body.
Many people have the goal of what I’m going to refer to as “overall fat loss.” Meaning, they want to lose fat from their entire body as a whole rather than from one particular spot. This, of course, is something I’ve covered in detail before: How To Lose Fat and The Best Way To Lose Weight Fast
But, this definitely isn’t that.
The goal here is much more targeted. You DO want to lose fat from one particular part of your body rather than from everywhere on your body as a whole. There IS one specific body part that you want to direct all of your fat loss efforts towards.
Sound about right?
In my experience, the most commonly targeted body parts for women tend to be the thighs, stomach, arms and back, and for guys it tends to be the stomach and chest. But, it could really be ANY single part of the body for men or women, including the neck and face.
Regardless of which area of the body it is, though, the simple fact is that there is one particular spot that you want to lose fat from.
This is your problem.
Step 2: Kill The Assumed Solution
Now how do we solve this problem?
Well, if you’re like the vast majority of the population, you assume that the solution lies in the way that you workout the specific area of your body that you’re trying to lose fat from.
So if it’s stomach fat, you put your time, effort and focus on exercises like crunches, sit-ups, leg raises and various other ab exercises.
If it’s chest fat, you put your time, effort and focus on exercises like bench presses, dumbbell flyes, push-ups and various other chest exercises.
If it’s thigh fat… it’s usually the inner-thigh machine, outer-thigh machine, squats, lunges, leg presses, leg extensions and leg curls.
If it’s arm fat… it’s usually triceps kickbacks, overhead dumbbell extensions, skull crushers and cable pushdowns.
If it’s back fat… it’s usually various rows and lat pull-downs.
Basically, think of any part of your body. Then, think of the most common exercises for that body part. Got them? Cool. THAT’S what most people will turn to when they want to lose fat from that specific part of their body.
From there, people will typically do multiple sets of multiple exercises, and those sets will almost always be higher in reps (anywhere from 10-20 reps seems most common, although it can go as high as 50 or even 100 reps per set when it comes to ab exercises).
Sound about right?
I had a feeling it would.
There’s just one teeny, tiny problem with it all.
The Spot Reduction Myth
“Spot reduction” is a term used to describe the concept of targeted fat loss. That you can magically “reduce” fat from a specific “spot” on your body by simply doing exercises that target that body part.
You know, like thinking ab exercises burn stomach fat, back exercises burn back fat, chest exercises burn chest fat, arm exercises burn arm fat, thigh exercises burn thigh fat, etc. etc. etc.
As obvious as this concept seems, it’s not actually true. Spot reduction is one of the biggest time-wasting fitness myths of all time.
The truth is…
The human body is only capable of losing fat from the entire body as a whole.
Exactly where on your body you lose fat from the most, or what part of your body you lose fat from first, second, third, etc. is all predetermined by your genetics and cannot be changed whether we like it or not.
No workout or exercise, type of workout or exercise, form of workout or exercise, type of equipment, amount of reps, amount of sets, amount of advanced methods or anything similar can change this and somehow allow you to burn fat from the exact spot you want to burn it from.
Sorry, but it’s true.
What’s that you say?
“But what about the people I see at the gym doing 100 sets of 100 reps of every ab exercise there is?!?”
Those people are wasting their time.
“But a few of those people actually have flat stomachs and six pack abs?!?”
Sure, 95% of them don’t, but there is a legit 5% or so that does. You’re right. What’s wrong however is the idea that their hilariously pointless never-ending ab workout is what got them those results. It didn’t. It had absolutely nothing to do with it.
The same goes for the girls doing infinite sets on the inner and outer thigh machines to lose their thigh fat, the guys doing 100 chest exercises to hit every part (especially the lower chest) from every angle to lose their man boobs, the women doing 20-rep sets of triceps kickbacks and dumbbell rows with a 2lb pink dumbbell to lose their back-of-the-arm and bra-strap fat, and on and on and on.
The one and only thing any of these people are doing is training the muscles under the fat they are trying to target. (And even for that purpose, this sort of training is horribly ineffective. And laughable.)
Which means, not a single one of them is accomplishing anything whatsoever in terms of burning any of the fat they’re trying to burn. It’s all just a huge waste of their time and effort, all thanks to their misinformed belief in the possibility of spot reduction.
“But I’ve seen people, products and programs that claim this is possible?!?”
Those people, products and programs are all horseshit, and you can tell them I said so.
“But I thought there were certain ‘toning exercises’ that made this possible?!?”
Horseshit. Read this: The 10 Best Toning Exercises For Women
“But I thought higher reps and lighter weight made this possible?!?”
Horseshit. Here, I made you a flowchart…
“But how can you be so sure?”
Because it’s physiologically impossible to target specific areas of body fat. It just can’t happen.
WHAT CAN and DOES happen, is that the muscles underneath the fat get trained. This is what exercises do. In fact, this is the only thing exercises do. They train muscles. Not the fat that’s covering those muscles. They have no meaningful effect on that fat at all. Not even a little.
So ab exercises will target your abdominal muscles just fine, but not the stomach fat that happens to be sitting on top of them. The same goes for your back fat, arm fat, chest fat, thigh fat and on and on and on.
Every single exercise for each of these body parts will only ever train the muscles of those body parts. They will do nothing to the fat on those body parts.
Need some proof?
There are a few studies that come to mind (like this one and this one, both of which looked directly at the effect ab exercises have on stomach fat and found that effect to be nonexistent), but the one I’ve referenced most over the years involves the arms of tennis players (this one).
Why tennis players? Because they spend the majority of their time using only one of their arms to hold and swing a tennis racket, which means that this one arm gets hours upon hours of additional usage compared to their non-racket arm. Which means, if spot reduction was real, surely the arm getting a ton of additional exercise activity would be leaner than the other arm. Right?!?!
There was, however, no significant difference in the thickness of subcutaneous fat over the muscles of the arm receiving more exercise as compared to the arm receiving less exercise. These studies provide direct evidence against the validity of the concept of “spot reduction.”
Need some more proof?
The easiest way is to do a little experiment. Keep your diet the same and your activity level virtually unchanged, and then spend the next few weeks, months, years or decades doing all of the crunches, sit-ups and leg raises you can and use every fancy ab machine your gym has for dozens of sets of hundreds of reps… and see what happens to your stomach fat.
Feel free to do the same with your thighs, arms, back, face or whatever the hell else… and see what happens to the fat on those body parts.
Spoiler Alert: Nothing whatsoever is going to happen to any of that fat.
For additional proof, feel free to check out the millions of other men and women working out at home or in gyms all around the world who are doing the exact same thing in an attempt to spot reduce body fat and are getting exactly the same nonexistent results.
As someone who was a part of that group back in the day (I even owned a contraption called the “Ab Rocker” or some shit), I have the wonderful first-hand experience of seeing exactly how nonexistent those results are. Fun times.
Step 3: Provide The Actual Solution
So if spot reduction is just a stupid myth, and you can’t target specific areas of body fat… what in the holy hell are you supposed to do to lose fat from the area you want to lose fat from?!?
You lose fat from your entire body as a whole… BECAUSE THAT’S THE ONLY WAY FAT LOSS IS CAPABLE OF HAPPENING.
At some point, the fat you lose will begin to come off from that one particular body part you wanted to lose it from the most.
Like it or not, there’s not a single thing you or anyone else can do to change the order or pattern in which this “overall fat loss” occurs.
How do you actually cause this overall fat loss, you ask?
By eating a little less calories, burning a little more calories, or some combination of the two so that the sole cause and requirement of fat loss – a caloric deficit – is created.
How do you do that?
By doing what I explain here: How To Lose Fat
And here: The Best Way To Lose Weight Fast
And here: The Best Diet Plan
And here: Superior Fat Loss
54 thoughts on “How To Lose Fat From Your Stomach, Arms, Thighs, Back, Neck And More”
An alternate version of this article would basically be “You can’t. Only eat less and let the body burn the fat from wherever it damn well pleases”
Perhaps, but that version doesn’t give me a chance to refer to something as horseshit.
Haha! Please rant, I love your rants.
I respectively request a list of possible excercises one can do at home, without weights. My stomach needs the most work in terms of change (fat loss) but I need a routine I can do from my living room to accommodate my goals. I consider you “the” godfather and patiently await your guidance. Thank you.
Read this one and this one.
Great job you’re doing. I asked a question a few months ago about what are the best exercises to do, in order to burn the most calories in the shortest possible time. No answer. I appreciate you receive tons of emails and requests, and you’ve probably answered some of these questions to death. However, I guess not everyone has the time to search for some of their answers on your website. I’d suggest you set up a system where certain keywords from reader questions are matched to articles where you’ve previously treated the question, and said article(s) are auto emailed to the reader,saving you precious time.
A second option that would save both of us plenty of time would be:
1. Go to Google.
2. Search for “site:aworkoutroutine.com” followed by the topic you are searching for. For example… “site:aworkoutroutine.com bench press” (without quotes)
3. Instantly find everything I’ve written about the topic you have a question about.
The question that I’d previously asked, was in response to your kind offer that subscribers could send you an email with any question related to working out, fat loss etc with a promise to answer in your unique manner, not merely a random Google search for generic answers. My keyword “search and tag” suggestion was essentially what it is… a suggestion. Hopefully that would free you up to answer more useful, previously untreated questions.
Gotcha. That “promise to answer” you are referring to was actually a promise to answer as many questions as possible. Considering I got literally thousands upon thousands of questions sent in after that, there’s no way I could ever possibly answer 100% of those questions, or even 50% of those questions. Instead, I’m slowly going through it all answering as many as I can and turning others into full articles.
In all other cases where someone asks something that I don’t get to answer, searching the site (especially in the cases where it’s something that I’ve already answered on the site… which seems to be the case quite a bit) would be the next best option.
How are you gonna stick to a workout routine if you can’t even be bothered to do some searching on this website?! :))
Please stop kidding yourself and stop being a douche who thinks the world revolves around him.
I agree with Triple R. Damien is in no position to be condescending. He gave it a shot though.
Hi Jay-I purchased your e book last year and I finally started the beginner workout 6 weeks ago. I just want to tell you thanks. I feel better, look better and I’m amazed how much I actually enjoy weight training. I have a long way to go but seeing results in just this short amount of time, I am inspired and hooked! Thanks again for making weight training and proper nutrition understandable.
You are quite welcome! Glad everything is going so well so quickly. Keep the updates coming!
Yet another enlightening and informative article from the Fitness Guru that Gotham Needs!! Straight and to the point! Loved it Jay! YOU RAWK!!
Great article man, I’ve dropped over 25lbs since Jan. with this crazy and elusive “caloric deficit” thing. I’m rocking a nice six pack now, but when I started, I thought that maybe I needed to lose about 10lbs. When I could not see my abs after 10lbs. I thought holy shit, maybe more crunches. But no, I just needed to stay on the deficit longer. And wouldn’t you know it, that worked.
Congrats on the progress dude! A caloric deficit works? Crazy.
Behold the magic of basic math.
Typo in your blue box you refer to genetics as generics
Good catch… thanks!
Where, sir, can I obtain this horseshit elixir that allows me to spot reduce my muffin top?
I’ll let you know. I have the bottles ready to go… I’m just waiting on the horse now.
Man, I wish there was a way to get this out everywhere in the world to where everyone was forced to see this at least once a day. Life would be a lot simpler!
Just wait till I’m president of the planet.
You have my vote.
You never disappoint man! Keep it up
Thanks for the article, caloric deficit is the only way to reduce fat. I did so, but I have become skinny fat because I was doing too much cardio and no weights. I’m trying to reverse this problem, I’ve increased my calories to maintenance level (~2700) and I’m working on compound exercises (Squats, deadlifts, inclined presses, military presses, etc…) at about 80 – 85% of 1RM. I see some muscle growth and planned to stay on this phase until end of July. Then I will go back to deficit of 2100 – 2400 calories while maintaining the same compound routine and heavy weights.
I’m on the right path? do I need to make this current phase longer (end of Sept, or year end) before cutting again? or should I have stayed in the deficit all along? Any advise will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks – J1
Your questions mainly depend on what your current body fat percentage is?
I don’t want to say it, I absolutely don’t want to admit it, but for the sake of those ignorant who will surely come in the future .. he is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. and I sadly learned that the hardest way possible
I am obese, for 5 years straight I have been walking 30~60 minutes DAILY WITHOUT FAIL, by walk I mean 5.5 MPH speed.
now what happened you asked? well duh! I got those nice and lean thighs and sexy legs .. not.
nothing happened at all, I didn’t even lose weight.. nope, not even a single pound, why? because I was eating tons of food before starting walking, and then increased the amount a little because “oh I definitely burned tons of fat! gotta eat more so I won’t be in starvation mood” haha fun times.
I then after 5 years decided to announce that losing weight is impossible, however I was too fat so I decided to once again try to lose some weight
after that I learned about calories, and decided to for real lose weight, I am now 200 lbs which means there is tons of weight still left to lose (I am 5’5). however, when I lost weight I noticed something VERY important .. my calf is super strong and lean!! I didn’t even exercise when I create the calorie deficit the first time!!!
it is amazing how I look now, although I am indeed fat, and my thighs are like pig’s thighs, I have tons of stomach fat, but despite them all my calf looks good. and that didn’t happen AT ALL when I was exercising for 5 years, it only happened when I finally lost some serious pounds that were enough to reveal my calf shape now
this is probably why I am strength training and cutting calories at the same time, I absolutely don’t want to be skinny fat, and I know I won’t be if I exercised while losing weight
it is amazing how excited I become, it is like I am hiding tons of treasures under my fat (strength training) which will NEVER EVER EVER appear unless I cut the fat of it (calorie deficit)
well that was long, BTW THANKS JAY! this post is one of your most important post
Nice! Congrats on the progress… both in terms of physical progress as well as learning what does (and does not) need to be done in order to make that physical progress.
Your articles are exactly what I’ve been searching for on the net and never found… You make sure ALL possible aspects of the problem are covered and the reader is left COMPLETELY satisfied. This is so rare. Thanks a lot for that.
And the style! OMG, I get almost physical pleasure from reading your stuff… So I have to disagree with Sotiris’s comment )
Thanks for the compliments… definitely appreciate it!
Classic Jay…I was giggling from the second I saw the title. I knew that the whole article would be a series of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5X8qDDMC-o
Good info as usual nonetheless for so many people going at it wrong!
There really needs to be a way to write an article that automatically plays specific sound effects for the reader when they reach a certain sentence/word.
I laughed out loud when I saw the title of your article, anticipating your humour and straight forward approach. I must say I was not disappointed !! I admire your restraint, it must have been hard to keep the ” horseshit” descriptions to a minimum and not curse out every person who has asked the question. Loved it!!!
The muscles involved in remaining calm upon hearing the same questions over and over again are quite well developed on me. 😉
Jay, very nice article. I have a problem. I learned everything for fat lose from your articles and followed it and got good results. But one thing is still need yo know that when i bench press i don’t feel a contraction on my pec. I tried everything. I googled and got lots of tips but nothing worked yet. Can you suggest me some instruction so that i can develop mt pecs. Thanks.
Read this one.
Yours is one of the few newsletters I keep a subscription to. Keeps my feet firmly on the floor where they should be, not to mention gives me a smile – thank you.
You are quite welcome!
I love your articles. You tell it like it is and back it up by examples that no one could refute.
thanks so much
Thanks! Glad you liked it.
When I got your email with the link to this article I was skeptically optimistic. I thought, finally, Jay has figured out how to target problem areas! Yay! Having read pretty much all your articles and purchasing SMG, I already learned that spot reduction was a myth. But hey, one can hope, right? So I just read your article and you didn’t disappoint. You are consistent and honest, no horseshit! I’m just sad because I have problem thighs but I only weigh like 102 lbs. So I’d have to pretty much become a skeleton to lose my thigh fat, ugh. Oh well, at least I’m seeing some new “pop” in my biceps from lifting! Thanks for all you do!
Ha, you’re welcome!
I enjoy reading your articles. Right to the point and no horse shit. Thanks man for your honesty
Glad to hear it!
Hi Jay, I don’t know where you’re located but I read your articles all the way from tiny Malta and I love them. You know your stuff and your writing style strikes my funny bone….which means that I learn and laugh at the same time. I do weight training and your articles usually consolidate what I know but there’s always a couple or more of things that I learn. Thanks and keep it up!
Awesome to hear it Claire!
‘Course, to be more-nearly-exhaustive on this topic of spot reduction, the procedures such as liposuction and the four current methods of lipolysis (here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipolysis) might be mentioned.
For those so inclined who are financially-able, these pricey procedures (especially the cryolipolysis) offer ways to actually remove at least some of the fat cells from areas where genetics stubbornly retain fat even after substantial overall bodyfat has been shed.
If I’m recollecting accurately, over the past few years I noticed something about a few physique competitors resorting to one or more of these (possibly liposuction) to spot-reduce lower-abdominal fat.
Your blog is absolutely hilarious. I knew all this before, but your way of phrasing things is awesome thank you 😀 😀
Glad you like it. 😉
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