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Will Bench Press Get Rid of Man Boobs?

Most overweight people have had hurtful comments thrown at them related to their extra chest fat. It gets old, quick. That may be why you are here. An insecurity about your chest. And I just want to throw a disclaimer that I'm not trying to be insulting with the phrase "man boobs" or "moobs" I just don't know what else to use.

Though, you're specifically wondering if the bench press is enough to get rid of all your chest fat. No. The flat bench won't get rid of man boobs because it doesn't isolate enough chest fibers and there's no variation for the upper chest. It's wonderful for building strength, which will increase progression in more specific chest accessories like flies and dips. Progressing in those accessories, along with the bench in a smart program with a calorie deficit is key to combating chest fat.

Do I Have Gynecomastia?

There are ‌two kinds of “man boobs” or that uncomfortable extra bit of fat on your chest that keeps you picking at your shirt in public. Really such a nuisance. Human biology deserves such a punch in the face sometimes. 
There's gynecomastia, which is an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone, which leads to enlarged breast tissue in men. Pretty much mostly beyond your control, usually happens in teenage years.

Then there's pseudo-gynecomastia, or just excess fat, plain. There's only one cause; fat caused by poor diet and lack of exercise.

The difference is gynecomastia may require surgery if it's not gone by teenage years or if exercise has done nothing for it, while resistance training and diet can cut pseudo gynecomastia down.

So you should assume you have the latter, and your excess chest fat, or “moobs” for lack of an easier word, is treatable and within your control. You’re probably on the step of developing a weight training program or already on one and wondering if a bench press is an adequate exercise for this reason.

Gynecomastia pre and post surgery

Is Bench Press Enough to Help Get Rid of "Moobs"?

Bluntly, probably not. You're going to want to do anywhere from 9 to 20 sets close to failure of the chest per week to stimulate hypertrophy, and eventually progress in volume.

The compound elitists may tempt you. It amazes me that some people really think the bench press can sculpt the upper body alone. Sure, it makes for a convincing sales pitch. Minimalistic training is easy and sounds doable. But do you really think just 20 minutes of bench a week will get you to your goals?

I don't mean to sound harsh, but the bench is simply not enough, just like rows are not enough for the back, chins not enough for biceps. Of course, if your goal is to be a powerlifter, specificity is everything, so training just bench is okay. But even powerlifters train accessories. Don't take me for someone who thinks all realms of lifting exist separately. But if one of your goals is to get rid of extra chest fat, the bench is certainly not enough. Not only does it not stimulate the chest enough since it uses delts and triceps just as much, it also is heavily taxing.

Best Exercises to Help Get Rid of Man Boobs

I mentioned the bench is taxing. Programmed intelligently, it will ramp up your strength and increase your accessory lifts, which grow you more, giving you more space to gain neuromuscular adaptations, priming you to move bigger weight to grow muscle with accessories, and recruit more muscle fibers for strength. As you can see by this self-reinforcing cycle, accessories are important for every lifter, but especially the bodybuilder. I recommend choosing two of these (or any chest accessory) and adding them onto an existing bench press framework to opposing muscle supersets on upper days. If you're doing a full body split, pick one and put one every day. If you're on a PPL split, add 1-2 to your push days.

Incline Dumbbell Flye

This isolation exercise will stimulate your upper chest. Note: don't let anyone tell you “Oh, there's no such thing as muscle targeting. You use your entire chest. Just do bench only because it engages more fibers.” Even though we know we can manipulate angles to add tension to a certain part of a muscle. There are heads to a chest. You don't have to train them separately like shoulder heads, but you should include some exercises for the upper and lower portions. Superset with a chest supported row.


Set up, keep your back flat. Use your knees to get your dumbbells at chin height. Have your palms face each other. The dumbbells might naturally move to pronation on the way down. Don't move your forearms. Stop at a stretch, around 90 degrees, and reverse the movement, squeezing your chest.

Dumbbell Press

The dumbbell press is fantastic at being an accessory to the bench because it requires more stabilizing muscles and stimulates the chest more effectively. Use a 8-15 rep range and go close to failure. Superset with a DB row or any horizontal pull, so as your chest solidifies, so does your posture.


These next two exercises are calisthenics oriented and may be a bit more difficult but are amazing for hypertrophy.

Pushups

Pushups are absolutely fantastic for chest hypertrophy and triceps. I recommend a 10-AMRAP range for this exercise. Depending on your skill level, for pushups, you may need to start with an easier progression. Superset with an inverted row.

Dips

Dips are one of the best chest exercises. They require impressive control but give substantial reward. What makes them so great is that they are like a vertical press downwards. There's no exercise that gives a better stretch and contraction for the chest than dips. Fantastic exercise. Again, depending on your level, you may need to work up with dip progressions. The website I keep linking to is an excellent resource if you're interested in combining calisthenics and lifting. Superset with chin ups.


Set up with a parallel bar. Grab with a full grip near the ends and support yourself on your triceps. Retract your shoulder blades. Lower yourself straight down to where your elbows are roughly at 90 degrees, or a little lower, then press back up.

Can Exercises "Fix" Man Boobs?

Disclaimer: I don't like the word fix. I feel like some gym goers only support or care for overweight people when they are working out. Some people don't understand life and its circumstances. Don't internalize that you are less deserving of well being just because you have extra flaps of fat on your chest people might care about. I'm not here to tell you no one is judging you. But if you're here, I applaud you, and I wish you luck if you choose to go any further with fitness. Also, if you're just here out of curiosity or have already been working out but wondering if you're doing anything wrong, you're probably not. Some things are always beyond your control. I can't guarantee implementing any of these tips will get rid of your extra chest fat or potential gynecomastia, but I can guarantee a fighting chance.

But no. Unless you're severely overweight, working out isn't enough. And this is the number one reason I see people give up on lifting. Diet. They get a gym membership, get excited, maybe expect to see results in a few weeks, but see nothing and figure they could spend better time and money elsewhere. What they should've done was get their diet in check first. I know it's easy to say on paper. There are a few scientific hobby based tips to get started. I may write a post soon about it. But for now:

Try, if you live alone or with a partner, convincing them to choose healthier options at the store, eventually ridding your fridge and pantry of easy foods. Some foods to replace are sugary cereals, sugary drinks, and excessive desserts. Also, fast food. Not that sugar or carbs are bad, but too much certainly is. Even if you have a family you at most need two boxes of desserts a week. Single, only a small box of cheesecake, or a pint of ice cream. Try to buy more colorful veggies. Add some spice. Learn to cook decent chicken breast. If you're busy, look into meal prep. I know this is ramping up, but basically, try to control your environment, social and just the surrounding foods, rather than relying on willpower alone. Here's a popular book about building habits, in a small way. I recommend it. Affiliate disclosure, I may receive a tiny commission if you choose to purchase at no extra cost to you.

To sum up, exercise alone will do an okay job, but if your goal is to lose fat, you should be in a calorie deficit, or if you're a beginner who's not sure where to start and feel they are on the "skinny-fat" spectrum, see this video. I am a personal fan of tracking food. The rule of eating 90% clean and 10% dirty is dumb. There is no “dirty” food, only more or less filling. Don't restrict yourself, just try to eat more vegetables and protein, like chicken, eggs and red meat. Have some useful carb sources too like rice, fruits and cereals. Make meals you enjoy. It's possible. I recommend an app called “Macros” in the Google Play Store. It's free and I've used it for over three years to track; and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sample Habits:

  • Trying to cut out (specific food) and replace it with something healthier.
  • Checking out the nutrition label on the next item you buy
  • Tracking your breakfast.
  • Measuring your weight every Saturday after you wake up.
  • Using a macro calculator to determine your starting macronutrient requirements.
  • Find a cue that leads you to go to the gym (i.e, changing into your shoes soon as you get home from work; just getting dressed is 90%).
  • Going upstairs to watch TV in the evening to avoid the kitchen.
  • Pre inputting meals in macro tracker before bed, after washing face/brushing teeth.

Conclusion

I hope you guys got something from this. Whether you think you may have gynecomastia or just some extra fat, it's better to get started now with exercise and small diet habits than wait longer to find out.