I joined my local gym about 4 months ago and at that time my body had a lot of extra fat on it. I currently weigh about 220 pounds and I feel really fat and overweight. Most of the fat on my body is around my stomach area and my chest. I have a lot of fat around my pecs which is very embarrassing since I’m a man and they almost look like breasts. I go to the gym daily and workout with weights for about 2 hours. I want to build up a solid chest, lose fat from my stomach and really just tone up my overall body. What’s the best method for decreasing fat and toning up?
If you’re weight training for 2 hours each session, it’s way too much and you need to decrease your workout time to a maximum of 1 hour for the best results. Any longer than this and you are simply overtraining which can cause issues by actually decreasing your overall gains in lean muscle and strength. You want to workout at a very high level of intensity for a short amount of time to optimize your natural muscle building hormone levels (testosterone and growth hormone) and then get out of the gym in order to rest, recover and grow. When you weight train too long (over 1 hour each workout), your body just gets overwhelmed and over the course of several weeks to months (depending on your fitness level), your body will most likely react in a negative way to the overuse and nonstop overtraining.
Your goal should be to break up your entire body into different muscle groups and train them on separate days. This is called a “split routine” and works very well for most people. A sample of a 4 day split routine is:
- Monday: Chest and Abs
- Tuesday: Back
- Thursday: Legs
- Friday: Shoulders and Arms
You did not mention if you were currently doing any cardiovascular exercise, so I will address the importance of this area of training and how it affects your overall level of body fat. You noted that you currently have excess body fat around your stomach and chest area. The abs and love handles are the main area on the body where men tend to accumulate the majority of body fat (for women it’s the hips, thighs and butt). Just look at many of the severely obese men in public and you will quickly notice an extremely large “beer belly” that most of them have acquired due to a poor diet and lack of exercise. The main issue with having so much adipose tissue (body fat) in the abdominal area is what is referred to as “visceral fat”. This is fat that is packed between organs and leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The good news is that visceral fat can be reduced through healthy changes in a person’s diet and by implementing an exercise plan to burn excess calories.
If you currently do not engage in any type of cardio exercise, I highly recommend starting immediately. Performing cardio exercise daily is one of the most important things you can do to start burning calories, increasing your metabolic rate and reducing overall body fat. Start with simple exercises like walking for 20-30 minutes each day and work your way up to 40-50 minutes daily. If you want to increase the intensity and burn more calories, try jogging for 5-10 minutes during your walking sessions. You can also try different cardio exercises like swimming, biking and the elliptical machine. Make sure to try to choose cardio exercises that are fun so you can stick with it for the long run. It could be playing basketball, racquetball or tennis, as well.
The other area which is extremely important is your diet. The foods you eat account for probably 70% of your overall success in losing the excess body fat on your physique. Our Nutrition 101 article provides a great breakdown of different nutrient dense foods and healthy meal planning tips to include into your diet. By combining a clean diet with regular daily cardio exercise and weight training workouts, you will be on your way to reducing body fat levels and attaining a lean physique. Remember that body fat comes off from all over the body and not just for one specific location, so as you start losing weight you should start to notice fat reduction in your chest area. The key is to be consistent with your diet and exercise plan over the long run in order to achieve the best results.