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?

Much thanks

  • 1
    Do you mean that you have very defined muscles? That's not muscular but being skinny. Some people have less fat in certain areas, yes. But unless you're a one in a billion genetic exception, you'll not become fat everywhere but above your abs or so ... I think you need to elaborate a bit more, as it stands this is an obvious "no". Anyone who has ever seen obese people knows that this is not how it works.
    – Raditz_35
    Sep 19 '20 at 19:21

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.

  • 2
    I'd have just suggested "No" as a valid answer, but the site enforces a 30 character minimum on answers, so this one'll do instead as a worthwhile elaboration. Sep 22 '20 at 9:39
  • @DavidScarlett "No" as an answer would have done me very little good as I wouldn't have learned anything. I appreciate this answer more for sure, but I still don't have any sources or science backing the claim, as much as it makes sense. I couldn't find a study on this myself, so I was hoping those more experienced in body/fitness science could help me out. Sep 28 '20 at 22:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.