Men can develop fatty deposits in their chest area, which are sometimes known as man breasts, or man boobs. Man boobs (also called “moobs”) are the result of excess fatty or glandular tissue around a man’s breast area. This unflattering condition can be due to high estrogen levels, which is known as gynecomastia, or it can be caused by obesity. Since some men develop the problem over years and decades, it can take 6 months to several years of a healthy exercise routine to remove them. Man boobs must be reduced through a combination of diet and exercise.
Understanding Your Situation
Consider your weight. Excessive weight is the most common cause of enlarged breasts in men. If this is your problem, then you’ll need to make diet and exercise changes in order to get them to go away.
Consider your medications. If you’re on certain medications, you should look at the side effects list and see if the medication might be the cause of your problem. If hormonal changes or man boobs are a known side effect, you may want to discuss a change in your medication with your doctor.
- Steroids and some anti-depressants, for example, are known to cause this problem.
Consider your age. Your breast size may increase temporarily while you are young and undergoing puberty. If this is the case for you, there’s not really too much that you can do except mask the problem until it goes away. Don’t worry! It should resolve itself within a few years.
Identify potential health problems that may be causing your man boobs. If you are not overweight or if they came on quickly without an increase in body weight from a lack of diet control or exercise, you may have a medical problem called gynecomastia.
- Get an appointment with your doctor if you suspect that your increase in body fat may be caused by hormonal imbalances or the effects of a prescription drug.
- Gynecomastia can also be caused by illegal drug usage. If this is a possible cause, seek treatment or stop using the drug. Marijuana has been linked with these fatty deposits.
Changing Your Lifestyle to Get Rid of Man Boobs
Assess whether your man boobs are caused by being overweight or obesity. Men who carry over 22 percent total body weight in fat are likely to have fatty chest tissue.
- You can get an appointment with a personal trainer or physical therapist who can analyze your percentage of body fat.
Lose weight overall. It’s important to understand that no matter what magazines try to tell you, you cannot target fat anywhere on your body by choosing particular exercises. If you want to burn fat, you have to burn it everywhere. Take this approach when choosing your exercises, otherwise you’ll end up with a super buff upper body and legs that can’t support you.
Drink plenty of water as you change your diet and begin an exercise routine. Drink 16 oz. (1/2 liter) 1 hour before you exercise, 16 oz. for each 1/2 hour of exercise and 16 oz. after the workout.
Increase the number of fruits and vegetables you eat each day. These high fiber foods will fill you up and give you essential nutrients that will help build muscle and reduce fat. Make vegetables the majority of your meal, supplemented with lean protein and some whole grains.
Cut unhealthy fats and sugars from your diet. Unhealthy fats, such as trans and saturated fats, are really bad for you and can be significantly contributing to your weight problem. You should eat as few of these as possible, and opt instead for healthy fats, like those found in fish.
- Sugar should also be cut from your diet, as it will quickly pile on the calories.
- You’ll want to avoid fried foods, butter, mayonnaise, and other sources of lots of fat.
- Soda, candy, too much fruit and juices are the usual sources of excess sugar.
Cut your salt intake. Having too much salt in your diet can cause your body to retain water. You do need some salt in your body, but it’s easy to have way too much. Look out for foods like pork rinds, chips, pickled items, cheese, bacon, salami, and canned soup broth. You should also refrain from putting salt on your food directly.
- Less than 2300 mg of salt a day is the recommended intake for adults. A single slice of pizza can have almost 800 mg alone!
Reduce your caloric intake by approximately 25 percent, as you start your exercise regime. Crash diets are not recommended, since replacing sugar and fatty foods with vegetables and proteins can improve your diet, while you still eat a full meal.
- You may feel excessively hungry in the first month of your routine, as your body adjusts, but try to eat foods like carrots, celery, unsalted nuts and non-fat yogurt if you must snack.
Limit your intake of alcohol. Alcohol can lower testosterone and increase estrogen. This can indirectly help to maintain or increase the appearance of gynecomastia and male breast tissue.
Use proper portion control. You should also eat meals that are proportional. You probably need to eat meals that are much smaller than the ones that you eat now. Overeating will expand your stomach, making you feel hungry when your body really doesn’t need any more food! This can quickly lead to gaining weight.
- If you’re having trouble gauging if you’re eating the right amount of food, start by using a side plate instead of a dinner plate in order to eat your meal. Wait 15 minutes after finishing one before going for seconds. If you feel full (not on the verge of exploding but just full) then stop eating!
Get a good night’s sleep. It is important to go to bed at a reasonable time and get a deep sleep of 8 to 9 hours.
Exercises to Get Rid of Man Boobs
High intensity cardio and interval training are especially recommended for getting rid of man boobs.
Start running. If your joints and back allow you to start this high-impact exercise, 20 minutes of running 3 to 5 days per week is 1 of the most effective and least expensive exercises you can start.
- Create a training routine where you run in intervals of 3 to 5 minutes and walk for 1 to 2 minutes in between, until you can run for a full 20 minutes.
Begin a rowing routine. Rowing machines are a great way to target your upper body. Of all the cardio equipment at a gym, this is most likely to be effective at reducing chest fat.
- Start by doing 10 minutes every other day and working up to 30 minutes every other day.
Take interval classes. Boot camps, cardio burn classes, barre and other gym classes that use free weights and other equipment are a great way to start building muscle and reducing fat in all areas of the body.
- Sign up for a class that you do 3 to 4 times per week, with a day of rest in between.
- These classes may also teach you proper form so you can do the exercises on your own later on.
Do the elliptical or swimming instead of biking. These 2 low-impact exercises target your arms and legs, instead of focusing on your legs.
- Do interval training by working hard for 5 minutes and resting for 2.
- These workouts are better choices for people with joint or back problems, as well as those who are obese.
Enhance your cardio routine by adding chest strengthening exercises. Adding muscle speeds up your metabolism and helps you burn more fat and get rid of man boobs.
Do cable crossovers. You can use a cable weight machine or a resistance band connected to the upper portion of a wall.
- Grab the pulley with your right hand and place it at shoulder height.
- Pull the cable from the upper right to the lower left, near your left hip.
- Slowly return the weight to the original height. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.
- Do 3 sets.
Do chest flies.
- While lying your back, take a 5 lb. weight in each hand with the palms facing each other.
- Lower your arms to the side until your upper arms are parallel to your body and return them to position above your chest, at 2 second intervals.
- Your shoulder blades should press together when your arms are extended to the sides.
- Do 10 repetitions of up to 3 sets and add increase the weight as you grow stronger.
- Change your hand position so that your thumbs touch above your chest to work different muscles.
Do chest presses.
- Lay on your back on a chest press weight machine or with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Start with 5 lbs. (2.3kg) and work up to more weight, once your form is good and you can safely perform a set of presses.
- Bend your elbows, with your upper arms parallel to your chest.
- Push up slowly for 2 seconds, stay at the top with your arms straight for 2 seconds and return slowly to your original position.
- Do 10 repetitions and up to 3 sets.
Do incline rows.
- Set your weight bench so that it is at an incline. Lean back into the bench. Take hand weights in each hand and bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle.
- Push your weights forward until your arms are straight and slowly bring them back to the original position, taking at least 2 seconds in each stage of the exercise.
- Do 3 sets of 10, starting with light weights and progressing slowly.
Do push ups. If you are unable to do push ups in a plank position right away, do a half plank with your knees on the ground.
- Place a mat underneath your knees to cushion them. Make sure your groin, chest, and chin touch the ground at approximately the same time.
- Do a set of 10 military push ups, with your hands outside your chest, a set of standard push ups and a set of push ups with your elbows bending parallel with the side of your body to work different parts of the chest.
- Unlike the other exercises, you should do these push ups every day, instead of every other day.
Understand the risks. For many men with gynecomastia, surgery is the only way to completely get rid of it. Nonetheless, it is important to understand that male breast reduction surgery, like all surgery, has some inherent risks.
- Speak with your surgeon ahead of time and be sure you’re completely clear about potential complications during and after the surgery.
- Follow any advice he or she gives you to the letter to minimize your risk.
Undergo surgery. The surgery will begin with anesthesia, and then take one of two directions.
- Excision: In cases where mammary glands are causing the condition, the excess tissue from them will be carefully excised with a blade.
- Liposuction: If the source of the gynecomastia is primarily fatty deposits, liposuction will be used to remove them and lower the profile of the breasts.
Recover and enjoy. Recovery from reduction mammoplasty typically takes some time, as the incisions need to heal and scar, and any fluids building up underneath them will need to be drained. However, this surgery is not considered particularly invasive, so any hospital stay is likely to be minimal.
- Your surgeon will give you specific recovery instructions; follow them closely.
- Be aware that the surgery will leave faintly visible permanent scars, typically on the underside of the breast area.
- Don’t go on a crash diet! You will only regain more weight than you lost.
- Stretch and warm up before doing any intense exercises!
- Do your strength training routine with the help of a personal trainer the first 2 to 3 times. The trainer will look for signs of improper posture and body mechanics. Working with free weights and weight machines can hurt your back if done improperly.
- After 12 weeks of doing this original routine of cardio and strength training 3 to 5 times each per week, ask your personal trainer for new exercises that will challenge your chest muscles in new ways.