The following is an excerpt taken from the June 2007 issue of Muscle & Fitness, on newsstands May 7.

Who would you believe? The Barbie and Ken look-alikes who say on the infomercials that if you use their ab-training gizmos, "You'll lose inches off your waist in just a few weeks!" or the many scientists who say such a claim is totally bogus? After all, attaining a washboard midsection simply by doing an ab exercise for five minutes a day is more or less the definition of spot-reducing, an outdated method of fat loss that had been relegated to a weight-room punch line. Well, now you can stop laughing – it seems the spot-reduction theory may actually hold water. Doing ab exercises for prolonged periods can, in fact, help you get better abs, and we've designed a program for you to achieve just that. All of which makes Barbie and Ken's logic, according to scientific research, brilliant!


OK, maybe Barbie and Ken aren't 100% correct. Although you may not be able to spot-reduce your midsection fat to reveal ripped abs by using some gizmo for just five minutes a day, you can spot-reduce your waistline with the right program.

Spot reduction refers to the ability to train a muscle group, such as abs, with region-specific exercises, such as crunches, in an effort to remove bodyfat from just that area of the body. Until last year, if you asked any exercise physiologist if it were possible to spot-reduce your middle, you'd get an emphatic "Hell, no!" Now, that same expert, assuming he or she has been paying attention to the latest research on the subject, would want to retract that statement.

A major study published in a 2006 issue of the American Journal of Physiology uncovered some interesting results, effectively turning the world of exercise science on its ear. In the study, conducted at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), scientists had male subjects perform single-leg extensions with light weight for 30 minutes straight. The researchers then measured the amount of blood flow to the subjects' subcutaneous fat cells (those under the skin) in both the exercising and resting thighs, as well as the amount of lipolysis (release of fat) from those fat cells. The scientists discovered that the exercising leg experienced a significant increase in blood flow to and lipolysis from the subcutaneous fat cells, compared to the resting leg. In other words, during exercise, the fat cells surrounding the trained muscle released more fat into the blood, meaning a greater quantity of fat is fed to the exercising muscles to be used as fuel.

For the rest of the report on this groundbreaking science and the M&F-designed program to go with it, pick up our June issue, on sale May 7.