My question is mostly stated in the title. Let's say you have particularly muscular abs or arms. Does that mean when fat starts building up, it will not build up in those areas?
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The specific distribution pattern of your body fat is largely genetic, but may also be influenced by your hormonal profile and dieting history. But for the sake of this question, let us assume that body fat distribution does not change. What does that mean?
If an individual is 200 lbs and 40% body fat, they have 80 lbs of fat. That 80 lbs is distributed across the entire body, but let us suppose that this hypothetical individual holds 10% of that in their arms (5% for each arm). This means that at 200 lbs and 40% body fat, this person holds 8 lbs of fat in their two arms. Now suppose this same individual drops to 150 lbs and 20% body fat. They will still hold 10% of their total body fat in their arms, but now because their total body fat is 30 lbs, that 10% being held in the arms is 3 lbs.
Now here’s another concept to keep in mind, “body part specific fat percentage”. If our hypothetical individual has 30 lbs of total fat and 120 lbs of lean mass then we have our same individual mentioned above. If that person (for some weird reason) only trains their arms for the next two years and adds 6 lbs of muscle to their arms, suddenly the arms have dramatically dropped in their body part specific fat percentage. Alternatively, if this individual gains 24 lbs of muscle and six pounds of fat across their entire body their bf% will still be 20%, but the arms will LOOK less fat because there is more muscle mass in the area to drop the body part specific fat percentage.
Building muscle isn’t going to change where your body stores fat, but it has the potential to favorably impact the ratio of lean mass to fat mass wherever the muscle is built.