Beer belly, saddlebags, lunch-lady arms – every person has so-called problem areas where fat seems to accumulate more quickly. The fitness industry advertises products and exercises that claim to specifically target and get rid of these fat deposits. But these promises unfortunately have little to do with the reality. It may be advisable to tailor your exercise program to focus on the desired areas, but the problematic flab will not be specifically reduced. You cannot choose which fat to target with your workout – it’s mostly genetic predisposition that determines where fat will be stored or burned first. But it’s still possible to strengthen and sculpt specific areas of your body. Keep reading to find out how – and what the different problem areas actually mean.

Can sit-ups get rid of belly fat?

It may appear logical that the way to get rid of unwanted belly fat is to step up the exercises aimed at strengthening your abdominal muscles. And if you are unhappy with your thighs, you should start doing more squats. It seems like sound reasoning. Which makes the disappointment all the greater when your hard work has no positive impact on your problem areas.

The reason for this is that your body builds muscle faster than it burns fat. This means that the fat is pushed outward by the growing muscles and the trouble zones appear even bigger as a result. Don’t let this discourage you! Because it is only temporary. With a balanced diet and regular exercise, you really can accomplish a lot.

How do you conquer your problem areas?

To get rid of your beer belly or saddlebags, you should reduce your overall body fat percentage. Sport scientist Ingo Froböse of the German Sport University in Cologne recommends a combination of endurance and strength training to achieve this. What’s important is increasing your body’s total muscle mass. This boosts your basal metabolic rate and lets you burn calories more easily.

The basal metabolic rate is the energy required to keep your body functioning while at rest. It represents 70 to 80 percent of your metabolic processes. When you have more muscle mass, you burn more energy even when resting, e.g. sitting on the couch. Eating less is the wrong approach, however. This causes your body to slow down your metabolism and your basal metabolic rate goes down. The result is that you’ll notice a yo-yo effect after you stop dieting and return to your “normal” eating habits.

Problem areas and what they tell us

The fact that it’s mostly men who develop beer bellies has nothing to do with women drinking less beer. Instead, it is due to the individual distribution of fat, which is different from person to person and is also affected by our hormones. Women are more likely to store fat on their thighs and bottoms.

It is also interesting to note that the place you accumulate fat says something about your lifestyle and nutritional habits. If you have gained weight uniformly over your entire body, it is often due to your diet. Simply put, you are consuming too many calories. Sweets and other treats are okay in moderation, but in larger amounts they seem to gravitate toward the problem areas mentioned. So try to eat healthy, low-sugar snacks and make sure you get more exercise.

If you gain more weight in your lower abdominal area, that may be a sign that you are suffering from stress. When we feel stressed, our bodies release the hormone cortisol, which can cause strong food cravings.  Try to find out where your stress is coming from and how you can take a more relaxed approach to the hustle and bustle of your daily life.  Strategies might include getting out in the fresh air to exercise, going to the sauna, or using meditation techniques.

Is your problem area your belly and bottom? A lot of the time, hormones play a determining role for women. Hormone fluctuations and too much of the female sex hormone estrogen lead to the increased storage of energy reserves in the fat cells of the buttocks and thighs. In addition, hormones can cause heavy water retention. In such cases, it may be useful to consult a physician to get to the bottom of the causes.

And the conclusion?

Unfortunately, you can’t exercise away your problem areas. Plus fat tends to disappear last from the areas where it appeared first. However, if you get enough exercise, do strength training, and stick to a balanced diet, your problem areas will shrink – and eventually disappear altogether.

Start to integrate your FiTS workouts in to your daily routine and try to exercise two or three times a week for at least 30 to 45 minutes