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The Myth of Spot Training for Skinny Arms

Earlier today I saw a website promoting the myth that doing weight lifting exercises for your arms can help women to get "skinny arms". The website contained a list of exercises, mostly weight lifting exercises like bicep curls and body weight exercises like push ups. It made me so angry I wrote a lengthy comment on their website.

My comment below:

"Wow. Such misinformation. The exercises listed above would give people BIGGER arms, not skinny arms. I am a personal trainer and I come across misinformation like this way too often.

#1. Doing weight lifting or body weight exercises will make your arms get BIGGER, not smaller, because you will be building more muscle.

#2. Spot Training for Weight Loss is a MYTH. You cannot do weight training with your triceps and expect your triceps to shed fat. It doesn't work that way.

#3. If you want to shed fat you need to be doing cardio. Jogging, swimming, cycling, aerobics, etc.

#4. Extra skin is normal after sudden weight loss, but there are tricks to fixing that problem - they're listed on my website."

The level of misinformation in the exercise industry boggles my mind quite often. It is due to a combination of factors:

#1. People who just plain don't know what they are talking about. They are perpetuating a myth due to sheer ignorance.

#2. Companies that are trying to sell you a product and are deliberately giving you false information in an effort to trick you into buying their product.

#3. Personal Trainers who have become so focused on one style of training that they warp, twist the truth and outright lie to their clients. Eg. Weight lifting trainers telling people that they can lose weights using weightlifting - or vice versa, cardio trainers telling people they can build lots of muscle by going jogging.

The third cause above makes me so angry because it means my own industry is partly to blame for the misinformation. It not that my fellow colleagues are stupid or anything, they are simply doing math: more clients = more money, and men who can easily be tricked into thinking weightlifting sheds fat is an easy way to get more clients. It is basically preying on the gullible and/or the ignorant.

But for a website that isn't actually selling anything, that is just posting free information (or free misinformation) what is the purpose of that? They don't make any extra money off perpetuating a myth. Unless they were selling a product I wasn't aware of, or maybe it was the advertising on the website - which implies that their primary goal is to keep their advertisers happy, not to inform the public.

And so to summarize:

Weightlifting and resistance training builds lots of muscle. It will not give you skinny arms. Spot Training to build muscle does actually work, but it only works for building muscle - not for shedding fat.

Cardio exercises shed fat. So if you are looking to shed the extra arm fat, you need to be thinking of a full body workout like jogging or swimming.

Spot Training to remove fat in specific areas is a myth. You can build muscle in specific spots, but you cannot shed fat in that manner.

If your goal is to do BOTH, to build muscle and shed fat at the same time you need to be doing a combination of both cardio and weightlifting. Eg. 15 minutes of weightlifting and a 15 minute jog every day.

FACT - 30 minutes of exercise per day is approx. 2% of your day, but that 30 minutes of exercise can make a big difference towards your exercise goals.

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