Maybe there are some guys out there who are proud of their "man boobs," but chances are that if you're among the legions of men who've got them, you'd happily trade them for strong, flat sculpted chest. Or at least one that's not going to do anything for a low-cut dress.
Most flabby chests are the result of excess fat and underdeveloped muscle tone. And, as with most shape-shifting challenges, a full-body approach is the only way to go. Diet and exercise are mutually supportive, so let's put the two together and get down to some serious re-sculpting.
From Fat to Flat
First off, let's drop the notion that there's a particular diet that will target your chest fat. "Spot reduction" is a myth. Body fat is body fat, and losing it in one place means losing it everywhere. That means you're going to have to reevaluate your diet.
There are zillions of diets out there, from low-fat to high-fat, but the best diet is one you can live with over the long term. You have to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat.
That being said, according to research in a 2004 issue of Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, there's a strong body of evidence that reducing simple carbohydrates like bread and potatoes — and yes, ice cream and cake — in favor of vegetables and lean protein will get you there faster. As your overall body fat diminishes, your man boobs should gradually dissolve along with it.
Work those Pecs
Push-ups are a great place to start when it comes to tightening up the pectoral muscles. They activate the pecs, but also work muscle groups such as the shoulders, back and even the abs. They're also one of the best exercises for improving slouching posture, which contributes enormously to the appearance of sagging pecs.
If you're really motivated, hit the gym. According to a study by the American Council on Exercise, the top three best chest exercises are the barbell bench press, the pec deck machine and bent-forward cable cross-overs.
Of course you'll want to train other muscle groups as well — back muscles for additional postural support and abs for a strong core. With persistence, you'll be getting rid of flab and building muscle in its place. A bonus of more muscle mass is that it burns more calories than fat just by being there.
Rev Up Your Metabolism with HIIT
Cardio training is an essential way to boost fat-burning efforts and is also crucial to overall health. It's important to do some moderate cardiovascular exercise almost every day. For optimal weight loss, the National Institutes of Health Recommendations for Physical Activity includes 300 minutes each per week.
Or, you might want to try high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. It's a cardio training method that involves alternating brief bursts of speed with recovery intervals to boost your workout's overall intensity in a relatively short amount of time. The Journal of Obesity published a study in 2012 showing that 12 weeks of HIIT helped notably reduce overall body fat in male participants.
The American Council on Exercise recommends doing 30-second to three-minute spurts of high-intensity exercise at a perceived exertion level of seven or higher. These are followed by recovery intervals that are the same or greater than the speed intervals.
- ACE Fitness: Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn
- NIH: Calculate Your Body Mass
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Is a Calorie Really a Calorie? Metabolic Advantage of Low-Carbohydrate Diets
- ACE Fitness: Four Ways to Help You Master the Push-Up
- ACE Fitness: ACE-Sponsored Research: Top 3 Most Effective Chest Exercises
- ACE Fitness: Fit Facts: High Intensity Interval Training