If you're hoping to focus on weight loss in a "problem area" such as your chest, you may be dismayed to hear that you can't just focus on working out that area to lose the fat that's accumulated there. There is no such thing as "spot reduction," reminds ExRx.net, so to lose weight in one area, you have to do exercises that reduce overall body fat. That said, you can still choose exercises that focus on fat-burning but also place special emphasis on the upper body.
Commit to doing at least 30 minutes of cardio -- and ideally more like 60 minutes -- five days a week. Any type of exercise that gets your heart pumping will work, but exercises such as swimming, rowing or playing tennis recruit the muscles of the upper body more than things like cycling or jogging. Whatever exercise you choose, keep in mind that the more time you spend doing it and the more intense your activity level, the more calories you'll burn. Swimming or rowing at a moderate pace will burn about 696 and 572 calories per hour for a 180-pound person, respectively. Tennis, meanwhile, will burn about 534 calories per hour for a person of the same weight.
Perform strength-training exercises to help you build muscle. Since muscle burns calories more efficiently than fat, growing your muscles will help you burn more calories as you do your cardio exercises. Focusing on your pectoral muscles will also create more muscle tone as you start to lose fat. Perform pushups and pullups that recruit the entire upper body, as well as chest presses and butterfly exercises. Don't overlook some of the largest muscles of your body, either, such as the gluteals and quadriceps, by doing squats, lunges and leg press exercises. Schedule strength training into your routine two days a week. It's also OK to do pushups or pullups more often than that, but always give your muscles at least one day of rest between sessions.
Track your caloric intake by keeping a food journal, so you can find ways to cut down and burn more fat. To lose a pound of fat, you have to create a 3,500-calorie deficit through diet and exercise. Start by using an online "calorie needs calculator" to find out how many calories you should be consuming to meet your weight loss goal. Then write down everything you eat throughout the days, and use a "calories in food" calculator to estimate how many calories are in those foods. Tally up your daily totals, and determine whether you can cut out any extraneous foods, drinks, alcoholic beverages or other high-calorie foods to stay within your goal.
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- American Council on Exercise: Calorie Burners: Activities That Turn Up the Heat
- ExRx.net: Chest Exercise Menu
- American Council on Exercise: Q: One of the More Common Perceptions in Some Fitness Circles is That Strength training Individuals Lose Weight Because One Pound of Muscle Can Burn Approximately 30-50 Calories Per Day. Is This Claim Valid?