You’ve probably heard about spot toning before. Like a unicorn of the fitness world, you suspect it’s more fantasy than fact. Then again, you’ve probably also seen a multitude of commercials and products that promise crazy-impressive results in one specific area with one simple exercise (looking at you, ThighMaster).
And the idea that we could all get legs like Misty Copeland or biceps like Joe Manganiello is pretty tempting. Could a couple hundred lunges or curls be the secret? Bummer alert: It’s not that easy.
Spot Toning Vs. Spot Reduction
First things first: The terms spot toning and spot reduction are often used interchangeably, and both play into the dream of having more muscle definition and less fat in key areas (read: your thighs, arms, or lower abdomen). That said, they don’t actually mean the same thing. With spot toning, the goal is to strengthen and develop a certain muscle or muscle group. Not so much with spot reduction.
“The idea behind spot reduction—and it’s been perpetuated for a long time in the health and fitness space—is that we can target certain areas of the body—’trouble’ spots—and selectively burn off fat,’” says Jessica Matthews, an assistant professor of exercise …