Of all the indignities age thrusts upon your body, a sudden swelling in your chest might the toughest to stomach. Man boobs – medically, gynaecomastia – is the result of hormone imbalances, when your ratio of oestrogen-to-testosterone shifts too far to the female side. It’s a common problem, affecting around half of all men, according to the Cleveland Clinical Journal of Medicine. But that doesn’t mean you need to start shopping in the lingerie section.
Nor should you live in the pec deck. Your body burns up fat uniformly, so hammering problem areas won’t fix problem areas. Instead, you need to focus on exercises that work as many muscles as possible, says Leo Savage, PT at luxury London gym The Third Space. “The more muscles you move, the harder your body works.” And the more fat you burn. He recommends compound moves that recruit your body’s biggest muscles, like deadlifts, squats, and pull-ups. Counterintuitively, working your legs and back is the best way to burn fat off your chest.
You also need to up your cardio. Fat tissue encourages your body to convert testosterone to oestrogen, which only swells your cup size. Burning blubber helps reconfigure your hormones, so food turns into muscle not ‘moobs’. What you eat is vital – less processed junk, more natural meat and veg – but so is what you drink. Alcohol stresses your body and reduces testosterone production, according to Dylan Jones, founder of TwentyTwo Training, gearing your body towards fat, not muscle.
But your most potent weapon in the war on moobs is heavy metal. Lifting weights ups testosterone levels, which helps rebalance your hormones. Follow this circuit of total-body lifts three times a week to torch fat, build muscle, and bid adieu to your moobs.
The No-More-Moobs Workout
Warm-Up: Row Sprints
Row at a gentle pace for two minutes to get your blood flowing. Then switch between intervals of 100 per cent effort for 20 seconds, with 10 seconds rest. Repeat eight times to spike your metabolism and increase fat burning even after you’ve left the gym.
This workout pairs exercises in your upper- and lower-body, known as a superset, to shunt blood between distant muscles. This keeps your heart rate elevated and gives your muscles more time to recover so you can lift more weight, with less rest time.
Perform one set of each exercise, then move onto its partner immediately, before taking 60 seconds breather. Repeat each superset four times, then move onto the next.
Deadlift – 4×8 reps
Stand with a barbell on the floor in front of you, close to your shins. Squat down to grab the bar, keeping your chest up and weight on your heels. Drive your hips forward to lift the bar off the floor, then slowly lower back the start position. Repeat.
Military press – 4×10 reps
Stand upright with your feet together, with a barbell held in front of your chest, palms facing forwards. Brace your core to keep your back straight as you drive the barbell up and over your head. Pause at the top then slowly lower. Repeat.
Barbell squat – 4×8 reps
Stand with a barbell racked on your shoulders. Push your hips back to slowly squat down, keeping your weight on your heels and chest up. Sink as deep as possible, pause, then drive back to the start position. Repeat.
If you can’t squat with a barbell, hold two dumbbells at shoulder height instead.
Dumbbell chest press – 4×12 reps
Lie flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing towards your toes. Engage your chest muscles to drive the weights up. Lock your arms and pause at the top, then slowly lower. Repeat.
Dumbbell lunges – 4×12 each leg
Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand holding them at your sides. Step forward with your right foot as far as possible, bending so your back knee almost touches the floor. Drive back to standing through your front heel, then repeat.
After 12 reps, swap to the other leg.
Barbell row – 4×8
Grab a barbell and bend forward so it’s hanging in front of you, with your torso 45 degrees to the floor. Use your back muscles to pull the barbell into your stomach – imagine you’re squeezing a tennis ball between your shoulder blades. Pause, slowly lower, and repeat.