Spot reduction is a myth, right?
Sure, there are endless articles in fitness magazines about how to target and tone specific muscles, but no personal trainer worth his certification will promise he can help you take off fat from specific areas. Reduce your body fat by three percent, no problem. But get rid of that annoying cellulite on the back of your thighs or that little pouch on your lower belly – and nothing else – well, that’s just not possible. Or is it?
The promise of spot reduction is an obsession that many in our culture just won’t abandon. How many pills, creams and celebrity-endorsed gadgets have people tried that were supposed to help you develop ripped abs or slender thighs? And even though those tight corsets of the Victorian era that caused women to pass out due to lack of oxygen are a long-dead fashion trend, today there are special pants and girdles that give the illusion that the troublesome fat is gone.
Trainers constantly warn their clients to stay clear from such nonsense. However, the advancements in exercise endocrinology may give personal trainers new tools for combating site specific fat storage. The system is called Biosignature Modulation. Biosignature Modulation is a scientific approach to spot reduction I developed from over 20 years of performing blood, urine and saliva tests while working with world record holders, professional athletes in all the major sports and Olympic medalists in 16 different events.
My entire professional life has been devoted to finding ways to improve athletic performance among the elite, and along the way, I have found innovative and amazingly effective ways to help the non-athletic population in the area of fat loss. Based on my testing, the reason so many people have stubborn problem areas is due to imbalances in their body biochemistry, especially with hormones. Doubt the power of hormones? Just look at what steroids have done to so many athletes, turning men into supermen and women into superwomen (and sometimes into supermen!
Unfortunately, these drugs do have side effects). And just as steroid hormones can build muscle, other hormones can cause unwanted fat stores in your back, legs, hips and – well, you get the idea. Here’s how Biosignature Modulation works. There are 12 major body fat sites that can be quickly and accurately tested by a pair of quality skin calipers. These sites include the cheek, chin, pectoral region, triceps, umbilical, supra iliac, subscapular, mid axillary, quadriceps, hamstrings, knee and calf. Although there are many other methods to test body fat, such as underwater weighing and electrical impedance, I believe body fat testing with skin calipers is the best method to be used for Biosignature Modulation because it can determine precisely the amount of fat in each of the major fat testing sites, the same way a far more expensive Dexa scan would.
Measurements from each site are then compared to the tricep reading, and this identifies which areas of the body have excessive levels of fat relative to the other 11 body fat sites. Some people may have excessive fat in just one area, while others may have several problem areas. Most clients will already be quite familiar with their problem areas. An experienced practitioner in Biosignature Modulation can often make an accurate visual determination of the problem, but the calipers are quick, easy and reliable.
Once the Biosignature sites are analyzed, the next step is to set out a specific protocol of diet, exercise and supplementation to resolve the problem. Let’s say that after being tested, it’s discovered there is an excessive amount of fat on the lower thighs (again, relative to the other major fat sites). This indicates there is a problem with the estrogen levels. If the problem area is the triceps, the issue is with the androgen levels. If the problem area is the shoulder blades or hip, the problem is with insulin levels.
The shoulder blade area has to do with the genetic ability to handle carbohydrates, while your supra-illiac skinfold is a direct reflection of your dietary intake. Therefore, if a client cheats on an assigned low carbohydrate diet, the skin folds will not lie. After determining the cause of the fat, the next step is to make appropriate modifications in your client’s diet. For the subscapular and supra-iliac, controlling the blood sugar levels of the body with more frequent meals, reduced daily carbohydrate and low GI food choices is critical.
For lower abdominal fat, the key is reducing cortisol levels by restricting the consumption of stimulants and simple sugars. For the glutes, it’s important to detoxify estrogen levels by consuming vegetables such as broccoli that have biochemicals to accomplish this important task. Many of these dietary recommendations overlap. None of them involve any method harmful to the body, and in fact, all of them will improve the overall quality of life. The next step is supplementation.
For the fat on the back of your arms, herbal products such as licorice root, ginseng (which is most effective when taken 45 minutes before a meal), suma, holy basil and rhodiola rosea might be prescribed. For the fat stored around mid-axillary, a supplement of guggul, coleus root and bladderwrack algae could be recommended as it contains iodine that will strengthen the thyroid gland. For the fat stored around the shoulder blades and hips, corosolic acid, R-form stabilized alpha lipoic acid and fish oils may be prescribed to control insulin. For fat storage on the thighs, indole-3-carbinol, phosphatidyl-choline may be recommended. The cortisol site on the abdominal wall can be addressed mainly with what traditional Chinese medicine practitioners would call Yin tonics.
In the Biosignature model, over 26 types of Yin tonics are used. The choice of a specific one is regulated by other factors than cortisol, such as the client’s personality, levels of neuro-transimitters, exercise levels, circadian rhythms, to name a few. Taking a well designed multivitamin/mineral helps out the overall process, as many nutrients act as intermediaries in detoxification of hormones and provide building blocks for all the neuro-transmitters. Male slanted formulas tend to work on correcting blood fat values. Female slanted formulas are more geared towards the detoxification of estrogens.
The final step is determining an appropriate exercise regimen. For example, for those with lower body fat, spinning will likely do more harm than good. Spinning will increase the storage of intramuscular and subcutaneous fat in the hip and thigh areas to provide a more readily available source of fuel for the muscles. Instead, a weight training protocol of high reps (10 to 15) and short rest intervals (about 30 seconds between sets) would be a much more effective choice. The Biosignature Modulation program will always be in a constant state of growth with the publication of new and better research that improves the system.
But now, personal trainers can effectively combat site specific areas of fat storage using a simple 12-point skinfold test, dietary changes, supplementation and exercise based on their individual biochemistry.
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Charles Poliquin and Poliquin Performance