Can you train a single muscle group to lose fat and gain muscle in just that area? And if you can’t spot train, then why measure individual muscles? There certainly are ways you can benefit from knowing the fat % and Muscle Quality (MQ) of a specific area.
Take your abs, for example. If you are trying to have noticeable abs and start to do abdominal/core strengthening, no matter how many crunches you do, you won’t see your abs until your whole body fat % decreases.
However, by strengthening your core, you can definitely expect to see an increase in your MQ. And since you’re increasing the amount of muscle present in your abs, your fat % will drop as well, even though the amount of fat may remain the same. But, importantly, the reduction in fat % will likely be less than your increase in your MQ since you are building muscle and not making an effort to reduce your fat specifically.
If you really want to see your fat % drop a lot in your abs and decrease the amount of fat, then there is no easy way around it—you simply have to start losing fat. We all know there are only a couple of things that can influence that—decreasing your caloric intake or increasing your daily caloric expenditure (or, preferably, both). But this kind of fat loss will happen pretty much throughout your body and not just your abs.
Of course, some parts of your body, such as your abs, are more predisposed to store fat. These are the regions that are the first to gain it and the last to lose it. If you do diet and exercise, you will lose fat throughout your body, but that loss will affect certain areas more than others. In this sense, you can actually spot train certain areas for fat loss—if those areas happen to be those most susceptible to dietary changes.
Simply stated, you can spot train MQ gains and fat loss. Strengthening your muscles in a given region will help raise your MQ and reduce the % of fat in that area. This will also be helpful in keeping you motivated by seeing results sooner. You’ll be able to see a decrease in your abs fat % before you will in your body fat.