Why I can choose which part of the muscle body, but not where I lose weight

Although it is of a thin constitution, Chema, 45, has a slight belly that resists disappearing. Eight months ago he left sedentary life behind and put on the tights to run three to four days a week, combining it with exercise of strength. His body has begun to be defined with a somewhat more robust musculature, and the ribs and hips begin to be seen. However, the float is still installed in your abdomen. The same sense of frustration shares Barbara, 52, whose obsession is located in the fat of her arms. As much as he's crushed with biceps and triceps in intensive weight sessions, he's about to throw his tank tops in the trash. The limbs are palpen and have certainly hardened, but the layer of fat around them remains as visible as ever. Many of us feel reflected in their stories: how is it possible that such an effort does not erase michelines and cartons? The explanation is in metabolism, in which muscles and fats don't react the same,

Cincellate the former involves increasing their volume by the local effects that occur when contracted, and only the area being worked on is hypertrophied. With fat, the process is simply different. In response to hormonal and genetic stimuli, fata either functions as a single organ by losing weight: it can decrease overall fat, but not localized. Same thing that happens to your car. "It's one thing to wear the tires, the muscles, and another the fuel expense, the fat. When the vehicle moves, the entire tank is emptied, not the area closest to the wheel that has done the most work. The human body works the same. We have a reservoir that serves to energize all organs. If working a muscle would cause fat to be lost from the area where it is located, people who eat a lot would have a very thin face", describes Jorge García Bastida, professor at the International University of La Rioja, who has prepared elite teams such as the Spanish Women's Hockey Team.

Doing abdominals doesn't lose weight

Thinking that exercising the abdominal muscles will burn the wrapping that we dislike so much is a classic of gym novices. Scientists have been debunking it for a long time, since a reference study came out in 2011. Scientists divided 24 healthy and sedentary participants, aged between 18 and 40, into two distinct groups to subject one to general exercises, and the other to work only abdominals during. That's how they did it for six weeks. Researchers did not observe any significant effects of abdominal work on body weight or to reduce subcutaneous abdominal fat, although training did improve muscle endurance.

"The most recommended exercise to lose fat is to train in a generalized way", notes Luis Perea, coordinator in the Body Coach Unit of the Tintoré & Brasó Clinic and physiologist at Clínica Exolife, in Barcelona, who adds that much of the scientific evidence shows that the decrease in fat in localized points with exercise is not possible. To understand the difficulty of the phenomenon, it is best to look under the microscope. The fat in our cells is stored in the form of triglycerides, which the body uses as energy in smaller sections that reach the bloodstream – free fatty acids and glycerol. During exercise, the acid and glycerol used as fuel can come from any part of the body, and not from the specific area being muscled. "The main deposits are in the abdomen – the visceral fat –, in the lower part of the body – gluteal, subcutaneous leg fat and intramuscular – and in the upper – also subcutaneous fat –", explains Pedro Manonelles, president of the Spanish Society of Sports Medicine (Semed).

The most prominent roundness is the last to disappear

The tendency of fat to be distributed in our body is determined by genes, hormones and physiology, with no possibility for change. In fact, adipose tissue is considered an entire endocrine organ, to regulate lipids as an energy resource from fat located in different areas and with its own physiological characteristics (something that, as has been said, complicates its elimination). However, even if it cannot be acted on locally, exercise does destroy it; and there are some parts of the body from where it comes out with more difficulty than others, emphasizes García Bastida.

"It's the accumulation that makes it more like it to go away. I give an example: let's imagine that we have four different accounts in four different banks, with a lot money in one and very little in the other three. If every month we take the same amount out of each bank, where will we always have more money? The same goes for our body fat," compares the physical preparer. It all depends on the amount of adipocytes, the fat deposits that make up the fat mass, greater in some areas than in others: in the case of men, in the abdomen, and in that of women, in the buttocks, hips or legs. "When exercising or improving the diet, results will always be more apparent wherever less fat mass accumulates. In contrast, in areas where there is more concentration of adipocytes, the results will be less visible.


Burning fat (tuntun) is easier if you're a little slutty

Once you understand that weight loss will be whimsical and will probably start where you least need it, it's time to assume that there isn't a single exercise that tones and burns fat at the same time. Physical preparers advise a workout that combines strength and endurance to achieve the double end. "Ideally, the ideal is to alternate weights with cardiovascular work and changes in pace and intervals, in a program designed according to age and physical possibilities, and always with adequate nutrition," recommends physiologist Perea, who remembers that optimal strength work must lead the muscles to a certain level of stress ("if not, there is no nuance,"


However, don't expect the sweat that comes with carrying the load will help lower a trouser size, because, as Manonelles describes, "the duration of a demanding weight exercise is very short and with a limited number of repetitions, so the energy supply comes from the glycogen of muscles and liver, and not from fat deposits". The exceptional happens next: "The recovery time after a strength training is longer, and the calorie intake continues," says Perea, who gives more data on the process: "At the end of the training, the metabolic rate remains high for hours, spending reserve fuel and burning fats, if glucose reserves are not replenished until three or five hours later, although, on the latter, there is still no scientific consensus


The reason for this plausible argument is behind the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (COPD) effect, whereby muscles need the arrival of extra oxygen, and spend calories to recover. "It's almost a chain: more muscle mass, less fat, because there's more calorie burning engine, Interval training (HIIT, which involves cardio and strength) is up to three times more effective at consuming fats than conventional aerobics, thanks precisely to the concept of COPD," says Perea.

A tailor-made workout

All, any muscle hypertrophy program with training aerobic and anaerobic can achieve the mixed goal. "I would start by prioritizing the increase in muscle mass to raise baseline energy expenditure, and then raise the level of cardio training, more focused on burning fat," proposes Luis Aguilar, dietitian-nutritionist and personal trainer, as well as a member of the Evidence-Based Nutrition Network.

"For muscle as effectively as possible, it is recommended to reach, with a previous progression, about 20 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions per muscle, in exercises where you work with several of them at once. And to eliminate fat, you have to combine the high intensity work with the medium work, The target should be at least 10 minutes of high intensity at intervals with another 10 minutes of low intensity, two or three days a week; and another three days, 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-stress cardio, plus walking at least 10,000 steps per day," Bastida Ditch. Nobody said being skinny and hard was easy,