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On a quest for perfect pecs? Losing fat from your chest is no easy undertaking, but it’s certainly possible. You just have to be willing to put in the work, eat right, and have a little patience.
Losing chest fat is no different from losing fat anywhere else on your body, and there’s no way to lose fat from your chest only — it comes as part and parcel of total-body fat loss. Here’s how fat loss works if you’re gonna perk up those pecs.
You’ve gotta burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. It’s just math — more specifically the Forbes equation. You can attain a caloric deficit through diet, exercise, or both.
Figure that most of us eat between 1,800 and 3,000 calories a day. You don’t need to do anything drastic. Dropping 500 calories from your daily intake amounts to a total weight loss of 1 pound per week, and those pounds add up fast.
Two months in, you’ll be down nearly 10 pounds. The key is consistency: Making small changes every day always leads to better, longer-lasting results than starving yourself or crash dieting.
Even if you’re cutting calories, it’s important to make sure the ones you’re eating are working for you, not against you. It also helps if you actually like what you’re putting in your mouth.
Reducing your intake of carbs and unhealthy fats is typically a good place to start. Cutting back on starchy and greasy foods and replacing them with fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products has been proven to maximize weight loss efforts.
Fresh produce contains water and fiber that help you feel full on minimal calories. Talk about a win-win.
Consider the keto craze
If you want to go all in on low carb, the keto diet can be especially effective. A keto diet is essentially a very low carb diet that limits carbs to 50 grams or fewer per day, with moderate protein and relatively high fat intake.
While it may sound counterintuitive to eat fat in order to lose fat, fats and proteins can satisfy hunger, which means you eat less overall.
The point of the keto diet is to put your body into ketosis, a state in which it burns fat instead of carbs for fuel — but only once it has used up any stored sugar in your liver and muscles.
If you struggle with moderation, it may be best to track your calories. Like most things these days, there’s an app for that — in fact, there are many:
- You can try our very own calculator for a quick and easy way to determine your daily caloric needs for weight loss and maintenance.
- Lose It! offers an impressive calorie database of over 7 million foods, as well as a tracker for activities and workouts.
- MyFitnessPal gives users a food log that counts not only calories but also macronutrients. You can also use it to track your workouts and chat with other users to share experiences and swap recipes.
- MyNetDiary may have a smaller food database (800,000 foods), but it’s great for finding support and sharing tips. Plus, it can scan barcodes of packaged foods, so you can keep tabs on calories as you shop.
- Noom offers a more personalized approach by determining your individual calorie needs and also features educational information and biometric tracking.
You don’t necessarily need fancy equipment to work out your chest, but you do need commitment. While working out won’t banish chest fat all by itself, it can definitely tighten the area.
Here are some exercises to consider if you want to target those pesky pectoral muscles:
You’ll need weights and a bench for this exercise. To prevent injury, start low and work your way up in weight — don’t be a hero. We’ll be using a barbell in this description, but you can also do this exercise with dumbbells.
Lie with your back flat on a workout bench with the bar against your chest. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart. Slowly press the bar up until your arms are straight, but don’t lock your elbows.
As you lower the bar back down, try to keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle. Let the bar brush your body before pressing it back up.
Ah, yes, the good old-fashioned push-up — no weights required and highly effective.
To do a proper push-up, start in plank position with hands under shoulders and feet shoulder-width apart.
Keep arms tight to your body as you lower slowly to the floor. Raise your body back up by pressing into the floor. Repeat, and try to increase the number of reps each time you work out.
For this exercise, you’ll need a set of dumbbells and a bench.
Start lying flat on the bench. Hold the dumbbells straight up, over your chest — the dumbbells should be parallel to the floor. For safety’s sake, keep your thumb firmly wrapped around the bar. No one likes a dumbbell to the head.
Slowly lower the weights over your head toward the floor, but don’t go past your ears. Then, bring them back up to the starting position. Repeat.
Remember: Start with lighter weights and work your way up. There’s no shame in asking someone to spot you, either.
You can do a cable cross on a machine at the gym or with exercise bands at home. The cable cross pinpoints the area of your chest that’s under your arms (near your armpits).
If you’re using a machine, set the weight to your desired resistance. For tightening and firming purposes, it’s better to do as many reps as you can with a lower weight.
Start with your hips square and back to the machine. Pull the handles towards you until they cross and form an X shape.
It’s probably safe to say no one likes cardio, but it’s in your best interest to kiss and make up if you want to slash calories and burn fat. For optimal results, aim for 20 to 40 minutes four times a week.
On the bright side, the world is basically your oyster when it comes to the kind of cardio you choose. Some ideal options include:
- jumping rope
- running at a medium pace (outside or on a treadmill)
Men may sometimes find themselves with a little more cushion for the pushin’ in their chest area. Yes, we’re talking about “man boobs.”
In some cases, excess chest fat in men can be the result of low testosterone levels, or gynecomastia, which causes swelling of the breast tissue. It doesn’t affect your health and is totally safe.
Gynecomastia typically affects infants, young men in puberty, and those between the ages of 50 and 80. It’s a fairly common condition too — nearly one-third of men experience it at some point.
Gynecomastia may have nothing to do with diet or exercise. It can be a side effect of many medications, including:
- ulcer medications
- cancer treatments
- anti-anxiety medications
Excessive consumption of alcohol or other substances (including marijuana, heroin, amphetamines, and methadone) can also cause gynecomastia. So just say no.
This one’s for the ladies
Losing chest fat is a fairly equal-opportunity affair. The same rules apply to men and women looking to slim down up top.
While there are no quick fixes, burning chest fat is a perfectly feasible goal, as long as you put in the effort and have realistic expectations.
You can’t lose fat in one part of your body alone, but with the right combination of diet and exercise, your best chest is waiting to be discovered.