Bodybuilding Myths Debunked: Stubborn Body Fat, Part I

Tom Venuto Debunks The Bodybuilding Myth of Stubborn Body Fat

Natural Bodybuilder Tom Venuto
Natural Bodybuilder Tom Venuto.

"Stubborn body fat." Those three words conjure up some very unpleasant images in the heads of bodybuilding enthusiast of those "last few pounds" in those "hard to lose" places. In men, it's the annoying pockets we get right around our navel, lower abs, lower back, and sides of the waist that make us want to leave our shirt on. In women, it's the "grandmother arms" tricep flab that sort of flaps around in the breeze when you wave to someone… and those dreaded "saddlebags" - the upper thigh, hips and butt area - especially that place where the back of your thighs meet your gluteus maximii.

If you want to "minimize your maximus" and other trouble spots, I have a theory about so-called "stubborn fat" and what to do about it. Some people might not agree with me, holding fast to a belief that certain fat cells are simply harder to burn due to some kind of alpha 2 receptors or hormonal anomaly, but I at least want to offer my hypothesis for your consideration.

Even Bodybuilders Have "Localized" Fat Deposits

If you've seen my pictures, you might be shocked to hear that - like many men - I store fat very easily on my lower abs. You might not even believe me (unless you're one of my college buddies, then you know what I use to look like).

It's true. I've had challenges losing lower ab fat just like everyone else. I don't call it "stubborn fat" though. I call it "localized fat." It was extremely challenging to lose the first time because I didn't know how the human body worked. I didn't understand the weight regulating mechanism, starvation mode, feedback loops, thyroid, leptin, lipoprotein lipase, insulin, metabolic rate and so on.

But I searched for answers and eventually found them.

I was able to lose these localized abdominal fat by learning human physiology and by changing my attitude towards the entire situation. I definitely didn't lose it by using some "magical" spot-reducing machine, drug, bodybuilding supplements or "fat melting crème" because such an animal does not exist.

Would you like to learn how to permanently lose localized fat deposits no matter how "stubborn" you think they are - and do it the natural way? …The permanent way?…. so it never comes back?…. if so, then this might be the most important article you ever read.

Do You Cling Onto Self-Limiting Beliefs?

A big part of the problem is that many people believe in stubborn fat so much that they literally manifest more of it! I don't know everything about everything... heck, I'm just a "muscle head" from New Jersey… but one thing I am 100% certain about is that if you walk around all day long complaining, "I can't get rid of this stubborn fat!", well, my friend, you aint gettin' rid of the fat! No person ever became successful by thinking about failure all day long! You need to have the right bodybuilding mindset

The ironic thing is, nearly ever email I receive from distraught overweight people starts off with, "Help Tom, I CANT LOSE THIS FAT!" It's rarely, "Hey, Tom I know I can lose this fat, I just need some coaching. Teach me how to lose it. Show me what to eat and what bodybuilding workout routines to do. Just tell me what it takes and I'll do it." Nope, hardly ever get emails like that.

I don't believe in "stubborn fat." There is no such thing as stubborn fat in the sense that one pocket of fat does not burn in the same way that all the other fat on your body burns - There is only "stubborn fat" if you're referring to certain areas as being the last place to go.

Genetics and Fat Storage

To explain energy in - energy out, I've often likened the body to a bank account when referring to caloric energy deposits. Ironically, however, the body is not at all like a bank account with respect to fat withdrawals. You could deposit 20 five dollar bills, 10 ten dollar bills and 5 twenty dollar bills in that order, and you'd have $300 stored in your account. If you wanted to take out $100, you could selectively withdraw the first $100 you deposited - the 20 five-dollar bills. Body fat cannot be withdrawn this way.

Fat storage patterns are genetic. The first place you store fat is where you're genetically predisposed to deposit it. Over the years, I've measured body fat on thousands of people. It's always been interesting to see the disparities in the places that individuals store fat. I've seen women with very small iliac crest (hip bone) skinfolds of only 4-5 millimeters in thickness, but they have very large tricep skinfolds (20 millimeters or more). I've seen guys with arms and legs that were ripped and veiny, with 3 millimeter skinfolds, while still having a roll of lower ab fat.

It's very frustrating for many people to be lean in most of their body while still storing fat in one localized spot, but it's actually more common than having fat spread evenly throughout the body.

Most men store fat first in the lower abdominals, sides of the waist and lower back. Women tend to store fat first in the hips, upper thighs, and often the back of the arms. As body fat percentage increases further, you will continue to deposit fat in those spots and everywhere else on your body - even your face and fingers. Once deposited, you can't selectively choose where you withdraw the fat - you will lose fat all over your body and it will more or less come off in reverse order: The first place you put it on will be the last place it comes off.

In part 2 of this article, I will talk about spot reduction and will reveal the reason why most bodybuilders have so much trouble losing the "stubborn body fat".

Go to Part 2 => Bodybuilding Myths Debunked: The Myth of Stubborn Body Fat, Part II

About the Author

Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, gym owner, freelance writer, success coach and author of Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 150 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Men's Exercise. Tom's inspiring and informative articles on bodybuilding, weight loss and motivation are featured regularly on dozens of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" e-book, visit To subscribe to Tom's free monthly e-zine, visit