A well-defined chest can improve your appearance and is the ultimate sign of strength and manliness. However, if you have excess fat in your chest area, your upper body might lack definition. To eliminate this fat, forget about spot reduction and take on a full-body, multifaceted weight-loss approach that includes strength training and cardiovascular exercise.
The Myth of Spot Reduction
If you think that solely working your chest and neglecting the rest of your body is going to reduce fat, you're in for an unpleasant surprise. You can't select where you gain or lose fat. You must focus on losing fat from your entire body, not just your chest. When your total body fat reduces, so will your chest fat. A caloric deficit triggered by diet and exercise is needed to lose weight. Since 1 pound of fat has 3,500 calories, a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories a day can lead to the safe, expert-recommended weight-loss rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Incorporate Cardiovascular Exercise
Swimming laps, rowing, a game of tennis, walking briskly while pumping your arms, and using an elliptical machine with moving handles are all forms of cardio that burn calories and can help reduce your body fat. The American Heart Association recommends performing 30 to 60 minutes of cardio on most days to lose weight. Find cardiovascular activities that you enjoy doing so you can avoid boredom and stick to your workout. In one hour, a 150-pound person can burn 400 calories by playing tennis or 320 calories by walking at a speed of 3 mph.
Perform Strength-Training Exercises
Strength training helps you maintain muscle tissue as you lose weight. This is essential because muscle tissue burns up more calories than fat to sustain itself. A routine that targets your major muscle groups -- including your shoulders, back, legs, arms, chest, abs and hips -- can result in optimal caloric burn. The American Heart Association suggests performing strength-training exercise on at least two days per week. Include exercises such as overhead presses, lunges, squats, crunches, triceps extensions and biceps curls.
Include Targeted Strengthening Exercises
Although exercises that target the chest in your strength-training routine in and of themselves won't reduce fat in that area, but do shape, build, develop and strengthen the muscles hiding underneath that layer of fat. These exercises ensure that as chest fat declines, a toned physique emerges. According to a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, barbell bench presses and bent-forward cable crossovers -- as well as the use of a pec deck machine -- are among the most effective ways to work your chest muscles. Push-ups, dumbbell flyes, and dips and chest presses using a chest-press apparatus are also helpful.
Makeover Your Diet
Although exercise can burn calories, if you regain the burned calories through food, you won't see the desired results. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends limiting foods that are high in cholesterol, trans fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. It suggests choosing low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, eating smaller portions and emphasizing low-fat or non-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein.
- American Council on Exercise: So, You Want to Spot Reduce? Here’s How
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- American Heart Association: Losing Weight
- Effective Strength Training; Douglas Brooks
- American Council on Exercise: ACE-Sponsored Research: Top 3 Most Effective Chest Exercises
- U.S. Department of Health and Humane Services: Aim for a Healthy Weight