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Do the Ab Roller, the Abdominizer, and the Ab Dolley really work? Will you get ripped abs and a six-pack if you use these devices?

Not likely! Spot reduction, or the ability to lose body fat in a desired location, is a common exercise misconception. Performing  a lot of sit-ups or abdominal exercises will strengthen and firm the underlying abdominal muscles, but will have little to do with losing the fat in that specific area.

Men typically store fat around their stomach and have an apple shaped body type. Women tend to store fat in their hips, thighs, and buttocks and appear more pear shaped. It is possible for these fat storage roles to be reversed. Fat storage in the body is based on our own individual genetic code that we inherit through our ancestors.

The places we store our fat can have a major impact on our health. The good news for women is lower body fat is not associated with an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, or other health issues. The bad news is it takes longer to lose lower body fat and is often the last place fat is lost. The good news for men is fat stored around the stomach is easier to lose, because the body readily uses it for energy. The bad news is fat stored around the stomach puts men at a greater risk for developing heart disease and other health issues.

Regardless of where you store your fat, exercising that specific area will not help you lose it. Exercising will, however, help you build muscle. Building your stomach muscles will improve your posture and strengthen your back. Muscle burns more calories than fat. So, doing spot reduction exercises may not help you lose fat in that specific area but exercising and eating a variety of food in moderation will help replace fat with muscle and ultimately help you maintain a healthy weight.


Stephen D. Ball, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension


Jo Britt-Rankin, Ph.D., Associate Dean, State Specialist, Associate Professor, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension


Candance Gabel, M.S. R.D., Assistant Program Director, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension






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Last update: Thursday, December 04, 2008



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