It’s safe to say that “man boobs” typically aren’t desired by most men. The not-so-endearing term refers to an excessive amount of fat or lack of muscle tone around the chest area. (Note: this differs from gynecomastia, a hormone-induced medical condition characterized by the presence of actual breast tissue in men.) If you have man boobs that are not linked to a medical condition, chances are you’re either out of shape or simply not training the right muscles to build your chest muscles. But hope is not lost if you’re looking to tighten, tone, and rid yourself of these pesky pockets of fat. While you can’t spot-reduce fat, you can still use targeted exercises to build up muscle in an area. A solid cardio routine will help take care of that extra fat. Here, top trainers share their best-kept secrets for targeting man boobs. Yes, really.
This may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie that fitness pros still stand by. “Push-ups are one of the best ways to get a great chest and core workout without using weights, so [they] can be done anywhere—plus there are no excuses not to do them!” says Chris Ryan, CSCS, founder of Chris Ryan Fitness. “Fully align yourself in the plank position. Then touch your chest to the ground while keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body. Forcefully push yourself away from the ground to the start position.” He recommends repeating this for ten to 15 reps.
Plank to Push-Up
If you’re looking to build upper-body strength and core endurance, few floor exercises are better than this one, according to Ben Boudro, CSCS, owner of Xceleration Fitness in Auburn Hills, Michigan. “Start in a front plank position. Your nose [should be] in line with your hands and your elbows bent at 90 degrees,” he says. “While maintaining a perfect position from head to toe, come up to your hands in a high plank position.” Continue pushing up and lowering back down on your elbows. He recommends three sets of 30 seconds each for beginners.
Standing Low Cable Fly
Though this move specifically targets your pec muscles, it’s great for burning fat all over your body, especially your core. “The setup is easy, and it’s one of those moves that you instantly feel burning in your chest,” Boudro says. He recommends performing this move in front of a mirror. “Set up resistance bands or a cable fly machine with the handles low and near the ground. Grab the handles (or bands) in a staggered athletic stance. Make sure you are far enough away from the rig or machine that you are using, and there is tension on the cables (or bands),” he says. “Start with your palms facing out. Bring your hands toward the center of your chest (sternum), squeeze for two seconds, then slowly bring your hands back down to your sides.” Repeat for three sets of ten reps each.
One of the most classic chest workouts in fitness is the bench press. It’s a trusty move for building strength, burning fat, and getting that extra little cut in your pec muscles, Boudro says. His preference is a slight twist on the regular dumbbell bench press, called the winding dumbbell bench press. “First, set up like you would for a normal dumbbell bench press, with your hands turned upside down (palms up) and … nearly touching your chest,” he says. “Press your hands toward the ceiling. As you press up, simultaneously turn your wrists over (palms down).” Bring the dumbbells down slowly, and come back to the start position. He suggests three sets of ten reps each.
There’s a reason most sprinters, not just joggers, are typically well-cut and toned. Sprinting utilizes serious muscle from both your upper and lower body. To make sprinting work for your fitness goals—i.e., losing your man boobs—Ryan recommends aiming for a strong finish of six to ten 45-second to one-minute sprints on the treadmill or 100- to 200-meter sprints at the track or football field. “Minimal rest of one to two-minutes max between each rep will keep your heart rate up as well,” he says. “Your effort should be 90 percent or more.”
Reverse Cable Pulls
“One of the big mistakes guys make when trying to get a better-looking chest is that they only work the chest,” Ryan says. “By working your back muscles, you will help naturally ‘pull up’ your chest and back—think good posture here. [This] effectively negates the effects of loose skin and gravity pulling down on your pecs.”
From a bent-over position with your weight in your heels, start by facing the cable machine with the handles at the lowest point to the floor, he instructs. Grab the left handle with an underhand grip with your right hand. Do the same with your left hand on the right handle. “Do a back fist punch style of reverse pull with power, hold for a split second at full contraction, and then slowly lower back to the beginning position below the chest,” Ryan says. He recommends repeating this for three to four sets of 12-15 reps each, working with light to moderate loads, concentrating mainly on form, and fully engaging the upper-back muscles. “You will be surprised at how hard this move actually is when done right.”
If you’re looking for more guidance on toning up those man boobs, check out the strength training section of Aaptiv. You’ll find upper body and chest-specific workouts that will help you build muscle in your chest, stat.