No man seeks to acquire "moobs" and a flabby chest. Your man boobs aren't just a fitness failure, however. Gynaecomastia, in which a male's breasts swell and look larger than normal, can occur because of a hormone imbalance — such as during puberty — drug reactions or genetics, as well as due to obesity.
If you've ruled out a possible medical reason for your chest's appearance, exercise is your next step to lose extra fat, get your hormones on track and firm up the muscles of the chest wall. Pushups are part of this equation, but by no means are they the only strategy in your efforts to get the buff pecs you're after.
Pushups on their own won't get rid of "man boobs" or gynaecomastia, but they can be a meaningful part of a comprehensive program to create a more muscular chest.
What Pushups Can Do
Pushups, the do-anywhere calisthenics exercise, strengthen your pectoralis major — the primary muscle of the chest. If you include pushups regularly in a comprehensive chest workout, you may even experience muscular growth. Pushups are also valuable because your triceps, shoulders, core and, to some extent, your legs work during the move, making it a total body movement.
And movement is key. Excess weight can cause an overproduction of estrogen, thus stimulating the growth of your man boobs. To lose this weight, you have to become more physically active. Pushups do count as physical activity.
What Pushups Can't Do
The target muscle of pushups, the pectoralis major, actually lies underneath the fatty breast tissue. If you do pushups only and don't take other measures to lose weight, you may experience greater strength in your chest — but won't lose the fatty tissue on top.
And although pushups do constitute physical activity, they don't elicit enough of a calorie burn to truly impact your weight. A five-minute bout of pushups burns just 48 calories for a 250-pound man, and that's if you're doing the exercise the whole time — which is nearly impossible. A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, meaning you must either eat that many fewer or burn that many more to drop weight.
What You Can Do
Losing man boobs caused by obesity requires a dedicated diet and exercise commitment. Focus on reducing your portion sizes and committing to healthier choices, such as lean chicken instead of fatty brisket, whole grains instead of white bread and steamed vegetables instead of french fries.
Don't give up on the pushups, but make them a small part of a greater regimen that includes more cardio and total-body strength training. Include pushups in a circuit training routine, for example, that also involves sets of squats, rows, lunges and crunches. Spend free doing cardio activity like jogging, biking or playing soccer to help burn calories, lose fat and get your body back on track.