Do I Have Chest Fat or Gynecomastia?

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question-icon-newI have a problem with my chest. I used to be really overweight and about a year ago I got started on an exercise program and lost a lot of weight. After the weight loss, I still seem to have a lot of chest fat left over. The rest of my body looks okay except for my chest. There are pockets of fat on my chest and I’m really concerned. Is there any way to tone up this fatty chest area so I can finally lose my man boobs?

answer-icon-newHaving excess fat around your chest comes down to two main reasons. The first comes from lack of exercise and being overweight which results in excess body fat tissue being accumulated all over your body, including the area of your chest. If you currently have excess fat around your stomach and love handles, your body fat percentage is simply too high. You need to kick up your current exercise routine and work hard on your weight training program and do cardio exercise 4-6 days per week for 45-60 minutes per session. You also need to closely watch the foods you eat and the overall calories since your diet is the most critical element in successfully shedding excess fat.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are on the leaner side with low body fat, the issue of having excess fat around your chest and pecs (man boobs) could be due to a medical condition that is referred to as gynecomastia. This is a hormonal condition where your body produces more estrogen and less testosterone. If the fat is located around your nipple (looks like puffy nipples), have your physician check you right away. There are things to help you remove this fat but it needs to be completed by a doctor. This condition may be caused by taking certain medication which may increase the production of estrogen.

If you end up going to your doctor and you are not diagnosed with gynecomastia, then you just need to continue on your exercise plan in order to start burning off all the excess fat on your body. Unfortunately, there’s no magical way to get rid of fat from a specific area (also called spot reducing). If you think you can just do 100 reps of bench press or an hour of pushups every day and tone up a fatty chest, then you need to think again. Fat is reduced from all over your body as you lose weight, so you need to take a holistic approach when you start on your fitness plan. Choose whole body exercises that recruit multiple big muscle groups. Great exercises include deadlifts, squats and bench press. You also need to include amazing cardio exercises like burpees which burn a lot of calories while targeting all of your major muscle groups (legs, chest, arms, abs).

As part of your fat burning program, you should include specific strength training exercises for your chest. Below are some great movements to include in your workout routine.

Incline Bench Barbell Press
The flat bench press is a great exercise for building mass and power. However, I think the incline barbell press is an even better choice for targeting your chest. I’ve seen scores of bodybuilders who concentrate on doing flat bench pressing movements. And while their middle, lower chest and front deltoids are well-developed, their upper chest thickness lags way behind. Conversely, I’ve seen bodybuilders whose main pectoral movement is incline presses, and their entire chest from top to bottom are thick and full. So try to concentrate on upper chest work and the rest of your chest development will fall into place. The incline bench barbell press is the perfect mass building exercise to include in your chest routine. Always bring the bar down slowly and make sure the bar touches the top of your upper pecs just below the neck in order to get a maximum stretch.

Incline Dumbbell Press
Dumbbells allow you to get a fuller range of motion by giving you a deeper stretch. Also, the movement isn’t as rigidly fixed as it is when using a barbell or a machine. Using dumbbells requires the stabilizer muscles (deltoids and triceps) to work harder, thus working those secondary muscle groups along with the primary chest muscles.

Smith Machine Incline Press
Some bodybuilders like the Smith machine because the bar travels in a fixed and fluid motion. I recommend using it occasionally to provide a good variety to your workout. Your upper chest training should be concentrated on the basics when trying to pack on maximum muscle mass and this includes using primarily barbells and dumbbells as the core of your routines.

Flat Bench Barbell Press
This exercise is the king of all chest movements. Keep your feet on the ground and your gluteus, upper back and shoulders firmly on the bench. Keep your arms close to the body at the bottom of the movement. Exhale forcefully as you press the barbell up and inhale as you lower the weight down.

Flat Bench Dumbbell Press
This is a version of the bench press that many bodybuilders prefer over the one with the barbell. Dumbbells allow a deeper stretch, greater contraction and more fiber recruitment, all of which means greater results.

Smith Machine Flat Bench Press
The fluid and fixed motion in which the bar travels makes this a great choice to work the entire chest depending on your elbow position and where the bar touches the chest. Try this flat bench variation for your upper chest. The farther you bring the upper arms toward the head (the elbows move back into a straight line across the body), the greater the pecs are stretched. Lower the bar until it touches the upper chest. Keep the bar moving smoothly and the weight controlled throughout the movement.

Decline Barbell Press
This is an excellent exercise for hitting the lower chest. Many bodybuilders bring the bar down well below the nipple line, but if you want better results than reduce the weight and bring the elbows up and back and let the bar touch near the top of the upper chest. A few inches can make a huge difference!

Decline Dumbbell Press
You will probably need a partner or a spotter on this exercise to help get the dumbbells into the starting position. Use only a moderate amount of weight until you get a feel for the dumbbells.

Smith Machine Decline Press
The execution of this movement is the same as that of the decline barbell press except you don’t have to concentrate on balancing the weight throughout the movement as the bar travels along a fixed path. Smith machines are a great way to find the right motion by allowing you to experiment on which bar-to-body position is best for you.

Dumbbell Flyes
This is one of the best shaping movements you can do for your chest. Try using different bench angles (incline, flat, decline) and keep the elbows bent slightly, arms wide and don’t let the dumbbells touch each other at the top.

Cable Crossovers
Many bodybuilders use this exercise especially before a contest to bring out more chest definition. For added intensity, bend over at the waist so that the upper body is almost parallel to the floor during the entire movement.

Pec Deck Machine
This machine is a real chest burner. Place your feet on a bench or seat in front of you to keep your back braced firmly against the vertical back pad. The farther you place your arms in front and away from your body, the harder you work the chest.

Dips
Often thought of as a chest finishing movement, dips are also one of the best lower pec mass builders around. Once you’re able to do two or three sets of 12-15 reps, use a weight belt with a chain or strap and do weighted dips with a plate or a dumbbell attached to the chain for added resistance.

If you have been cleared by your doctor and you do not have any issues with gynecomastia, then the above mentioned chest exercises are some of the best movements to include in your overall fat burning and chest building routine. You also need to make sure your diet and your cardio program is “spot on” in order to shed the excess body fat from your physique in order to start seeing big time results!

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1 Comment

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    The best way to tell if you have real “gyno” or just a fat chest is to check for an actual hard lump behind the nipple. When you have real gynecomastia there will be an enlarged gland behind your nipple that you can actually feel, but if it’s all just soft fat then you just have unfortunate genetics that decided your chest is a good place to store fat. The good news in that case is that all you have to do is lose weight – easier said than done though, I know.

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