For guys, to call chest fat "unwanted" is probably an understatement. If fact, the proverbial "man boobs" probably top pattern baldness on things most men would rather avoid — although, like baldness, it affects a large part of the male population.
Whether a jiggly chest has been a lifelong annoyance or has manifested with recent weight gain, it is quite possible to lose chest fat in a timely fashion. If you want to lose it fast, just remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare — a steady and persistent effort generally triumphs over manic bursts of activity.
The Myth of Spot Reduction
One of the facts of life is that some people are prone to accumulate fat in the upper body, while for others, it stays south. A fatty chest is likely to be just one aspect of an overall overweight person. However, some guys may accumulate fat around the pectoral muscles disproportionately from the rest of the body.
Perhaps you would like to target that area, thus avoiding the extra work of a well-rounded fitness and diet regimen. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. If you want to lose your man boobs, you're going to have to go for full-body fitness.
How to Make Fat Disappear
In the real world, fat is not burned by working the tarnation out of a fatty area. When people say "feel the burn," they're talking about lactic acid irritating the nerve fibers of your muscle after a workout. Calories are burned, fat is not. It's more like fat gets starved out of your system through calorie deprivation.
For every pound of fat you lose, you have to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in. That works out pretty nicely, considering that the National Institutes of Health advises against losing more than 2 pounds a week.
That means you need a caloric deficit of 1,000 calories a day. Going much faster than that, and your chances of keeping it off diminish — and you're also setting yourself up for rebound weight gain.
Unfortunately, this metabolic system does not care whether or not you have a fat chest, so you'll just have to settle for an overall healthy Body Mass Index, or BMI of 24.9 or less. That's the measurement of your body fat composition based on weight and height.
Diet, Exercise or Both?
It is very difficult to lose weight by exercise alone. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 89 percent of people who've successfully lost weight and kept it off for at least a year used a combination of exercise and diet.
Endurance exercise, such as treadmill, jogging or stairs, elevates your heart rate, ramps up your metabolism and burns more calories. Resistance training with weights or calisthenics builds muscle, which in turn burns more calories just by living. As your BMI score declines and your body grows more lean, your fatty chest will, metaphorically speaking, begin to melt away with the rest of your body fat.
Exercise RX for Chest Fat
Maybe underneath a vast layer of blubber, you have magnificently well-developed pectoral muscles. This possibility is worth mentioning because it's good to understand that fat and muscle exist independently of each other.
However, it's more likely that your pectorals are underdeveloped and could use some work. Where to begin? For starters, do push-ups. They not only work your pectorals, arms and shoulders, but they'll strengthen your upper-back muscles and put your posture right, which will naturally make you appear to have a flatter chest.
If you're feeling and ambitious and want to add some bulk, hit the gym. A study by the American Council on Exercise found the three most effective chest exercises to be the barbell bench press, the pec deck and bent-forward cable crossovers.
- ACE Fitness: "Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn"
- NIH: "Weight Loss and Nutrition Myths"
- National Institutes of Health: "Calculate Your Body Mass Index"
- National Weight Control Registry: "NWCR Facts"
- American Council on Exercise: "ACE-Sponsored Work: Top 3 Most Effective Chest Exercises"