It flattens, firms and tones . . . how many times have you heard that expression? Heaps, I’ll bet! It usually refers to some workout plan or device that supposedly targets the abs, buttocks, or thighs.
It sure sounds good! Who wouldn’t want their abs, tush and thighs flattened, firmed and toned?
But what does it really mean?
Well that’s a good question. Because the truth is, it’s all just marketing-speak. These are just some fancy words designed to make you believe that the product in question will directly target your problem area, and make your problem go away.
But the real problem is, it usually doesn’t.
It’s very frustrating to see just how many women still believe in the myth about targeting specific areas of the body with fat-burning exercise. Frustrating, but understandable – when you consider just how constantly the general public is mercilessly bombarded with this lie.
I can’t count the number of times a woman has looked at me in utter bewilderment when I tell her that sit ups, crunches and ab exercise machines DON’T burn belly fat.
So let’s talk a little more about flattening, firming and toning, and set the record straight in plain English.
First of all, flattening and firming. These terms both simply refer to the removal of body fat. When you remove fat from an area of your body – your abdomen, for example – it becomes flatter. And because body fat is soft, the area also becomes firmer. Makes sense?
Now, here’s the vital point that many women still don’t realize.
It’s impossible to remove fat selectively from any area of your body by targeting that area with exercise, or by any other means known to man.
This is referred to as targeted fat loss, and it’s nothing but a myth. It’s just not true!
That’s why you can’t remove body fat exclusively from your abdomen by doing sit ups or crunches, or by using any abdominal exercise machine. In other words,
when you’re being told that some product will flatten and firm an area of your body, you’re being lied to!
So how do you remove fat from your abdomen, or any other area? Well, that’s simple – create a calorie deficit though exercise and/or a dietary restriction. In a calorie deficit, your body is burning more calories than it is being supplied with, on average.
But the problem is this. You can control how much fat you burn – the bigger the calorie deficit and the longer you sustain it, the more fat you lose (within reason) – but you can’t control where on your body the fat is burned. Only your body decides that, and you have no say in the matter.
So, if your objective is to flatten and firm your abs, buttocks or thighs, you’ll need to burn fat through cardio exercise, and as part of the process those areas will become flatter and firmer, along with all other areas of your body.
As counterintuitive as it might sound, that means that an exercise like swimming will actually remove more belly fat than sit ups. Why? Because it burns more calories. Sit ups, crunches and ab exercise machine routines are NOT specifically calorie-burning exercises, which make them sub-standard exercises for burning fat.
Now, what about toning?
Well, toning basically refers to the development of your musculature, to make it more shapely and give it a more pronounced definition. This is where targeted exercise DOES work.
Developing muscle tone and strength is the domain of resistance exercise. And whichever muscles and muscle groups a particular resistance exercise targets will develop accordingly. Sit ups, crunches, and most ab exercise machine routines are predominantly resistance exercises, so these will in fact tone your abdominal muscles.
The point to watch out for, however, is this. You can knock yourself out doing exercises to tone any muscle group you choose – abs, buttocks and thighs included. You can even end up with the best toned muscles on the planet.
But if those muscles are buried under kilos of body fat, then no one will ever know any different – not even you. For toned muscles to show and therefore be appreciated by anyone, the fat covering them must also be removed.
So at the risk of playing what sounds like the same old tune, the way to a great looking body is through good quality exercise (forget the targeted fat loss gimmicks) with an appropriate resistance training routine targeting all-over muscle development, but focusing on any areas that you choose.
This common-sense approach to exercise will produce for you what the marketing crowd refer to as flattening, firming and toning.