Dr. Jim Stoppani on the Science Behind Body Fat and Spot Reduction

While uncertain, Stoppani suggests there may be a way to spot reduce fat.

In the ninth episode of BarBend and Generation Iron‘s  interview series with Dr. Jim Stoppani, the topic at hand is “stubborn body fat.” Moderator Vlad Yudin asked the exercise physiologist and JYM Supplements founder if he knew something Yudin doesn’t know about how to “spot treat” areas where many people are prone to storing body fat, such as on the lower stomach, lower back, and love handles.

Typically, we say no.

Stoppani says that if a bodybuilder is cutting weight for a show, but their body is holding onto fat in those previously troublesome areas, the solution is to continue to drop body fat through a calorie deficit and adjusted macronutrients. However, Stoppani does cite a study that suggests spot reduction may not be entirely impossible. Check out the video below, courtesy of Generation Iron‘s YouTube channel:

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Fat Loss and Spot Reduction?

While Stoppani did not specifically cite the study he referred to in the interview, he said that the study found that when high-volume resistance training was applied — in this example, it was approximately 100 reps on a leg extension machine — scientists were able to identify that the majority of the fat burned was in the targeted muscle group (quadriceps). 

This was with very, very, very high repetitions. Given that, [spot reduction] might be possible with very high reps to release the fat from an area.

Stoppani reiterated consistently that the possibility of spot reduction was just that — a possibility. While there have been studies that show spot reduction isn’t possible to reduce fat in a localized area, including in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, there have been others that suggest explosive resistance training before a bout of endurance” may target specific adipose tissue sites eliciting localized fat mass loss.” (1)(2)


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Stoppani reiterates the potential necessity for cardio following high-rep training:

The high reps…freed up the fat, now you have to burn the fat.

Although Stoppani is aware of data that suggests that fat burned can come from the area being worked in a very high rep range, he also states that he is not certain how “reasonable or effective that is.”


  1. Ramirez-Campillo, Rodrigo & Andrade, David & Campos, Christian & Henríquez-Olguín, Carlos & Álvarez, Cristian & Izquierdo, Mikel. (2013). Regional Fat Changes Induced by Localized Muscle Endurance Resistance Training. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 27. 2219-2224. 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e8681.
  2. Scotto di Palumbo, A., Guerra, E., Orlandi, C., Bazzucchi, I., & Sacchetti, M. (2017). Effect of combined resistance and endurance exercise training on regional fat loss. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness57(6), 794–801. https://doi.org/10.23736/S0022-4707.16.06358-1

Featured image: @jimstoppani on Instagram