Archive for the tag - chest

Can I Turn My Man Boobs Into Pec Muscles?

Dear Davey,

I’m overweight and I definitely have a case of the man boobs. Is there any way that I can turn my man boobs into pec muscles?

From,
Rob

perfect pecsHey Rob,

I get a lot of questions about man boobs, often called moobs. Urban Dictionary defines moobs as “a combination of the words ‘man’ and ‘boobs.’ This is what happens when fat gathers in a male’s chest area, and gives him the appearance of having breasts. Floppy, Jell-O like protrusions.”

Moobs or not, it’s important to know that fat can’t turn into muscle. Conversely, muscle also can’t turn into fat – despite the myth claiming otherwise. As such, strictly speaking from a technical standpoint, you can’t “turn” fatty moobs into muscular pecs.

Instead, you can first shed excess fat from your body. This will help flatten your chest. Then, you can add muscle to your body – and, in particular, to your chest. This two-step approach will build up your pectoral muscles and result in a strong, muscular chest.

When it comes to losing weight, there’s really no secret. Weight loss is achieved through a calorie deficit of moving more and eating smarter; decrease the calories going in and increase the calories going out. Keep in mind, fat loss is a total body experience. Though you want to lose your moobs, fat will come off your entire body including face, neck, stomach, butt and so on. It may take a considerable amount of fat loss to fully reduce your moobs.

Once a flat chest is achieved, it’s time to shift gears. Instead of focusing on fat loss, switch to a workout centered around hypertrophy – which refers to implementing a workout strategy designed to build muscle. Unlike fat loss, you can build muscle on specific areas. In this case, we’ll focus on your pecs.

Here’s the chest workout that I use:

  • 4 sets of 8 reps on the flat bench press
  • 4 sets of 8 reps on the incline bench press
  • 4 sets of 8 reps on the decline bench press
  • 4 sets of 8 reps of dumbbell pec flies alternating with 4 sets of 10 one-leg push-ups
  • 4 sets of 8 reps of pec fly machine

Once or twice per week, I complete this chest day workout.

Because you’re looking to increase the size of your muscles, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to progress to heavier and heavier levels of resistance on the bench press, dumbbell pec flies and pec fly machine. You’ll also need to give your body the fuel it needs by eating smarter.

While there’s no magic fix for moobs, the above formula is a real and lasting solution based on science. And, in addition to transforming your body, this solution will result in improved health, increased energy and better quality of life.

Love,
Davey

P.S. For more help increasing muscle size, download Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle.

Top 3 Most Effective Chest Exercises!

shirtless chest pressStrong and developed chest muscles don’t just look sexy, they’re essential to a wide-range of everyday activities and can help boost athletic performance. If building chest muscles is in line with your fitness goals, it begs the question: Which exercises are the most effective?

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) enlisted the help of researchers from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse to study the effectiveness of various chest exercises including the barbell bench press, pec deck machine, bent-forward cable crossovers, chest press machine, inclined dumbbell flys, dips, suspended push-ups, stability ball push-ups and standard push-ups.

For the study, participants included fourteen healthy men between the ages of 18 and 30 for which baselines were established. Electromyography (EMG) electrodes were placed on the pectoralis major muscle of each subject to analyze motor-unit recruitment, firing rate and synchronization. Using this data, researchers were able to determine which exercises resulted in the highest levels of muscle activation.

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 9.52.10 AMAfter pouring through the data, researchers concluded that the barbell bench press was the most effective exercise. The pec deck machine and bent-forward cable crossovers came in as a close second and third, respectively. (See chart at right for the full listing of exercises.)

If your goal is hypertrophy (muscle size) and if you’re able to commit a to several days of exercise per week, then the barbell bench press can’t be beat.

However, if you’re more interested in overall health, functional strength or don’t go to the gym daily, then don’t write off some of the lower-performing exercises altogether. Though push-ups, for example, don’t result in the highest levels of chest muscle activation, they’re a great exercise that works several different muscle groups and that results in real-world strength.

All of these chest exercises can play a useful role in your workout routine; it’s just a matter of customizing your regimen based on your goals and time commitments.

 

 

 

How to Get a Bigger Chest: 10 Tips.

People don't recognize me with my shirt on.

Because my pecs have become something of a Davey Wavey trademark, it’s no surprise that I get a number of emails about chest workouts. More specifically, most guys write asking for tips to increase their chest size. It’s a common goal and the game plan necessary to make it happen is fairly straightforward.

Here are 10 tips for getting a bigger chest.

  1. Bench press. Tried and true, there is no better exercise for building up your chest than the bench press. You can do bench press exercises with either dumbbells or a barbell – and each have their own advantage. With dumbbells, you’re able to work through a great range of motion. But with a barbell, you’re able to press heavier amounts of weight. Since heavier loads will result in bigger gains, I recommend using the barbell – though it’s fine to use either or both.
  2. Low reps, heavy weight. Doing a lower number of repetitions at a heavy weight is best suited for increases in size. I usually target 8 repetitions. On the last repetition, your muscles should feel fatigued. If you can do more than 12 repetitions without feeling fatigued, then the weight is definitely too light.
  3. Do at least four sets. It’s true that you get a ton of benefits from performing only one set, but if you’re looking for maximized results, the additional sets are important. I do four sets on the bench press, then four sets each on the incline and decline bench press.
  4. Only train your chest once or twice per week. Since I train different muscle groups each day, I usually only work my chest once per week. Sometimes twice. I don’t train my chest often, but when I do, it’s a quality workout and that’s what matters.
  5. Increase the amount of resistance or number of repetitions. If you did 6 repetitions at 180 pounds last week, try for 7 repetitions at the same weight this week. Or if you did 8 repetitions of 150 pounds last week, go for 7 or 8 repetitions at 160 pounds this week. You need to overload your muscles to increase their size.
  6. Keep a log. Because the exact number of repetitions and amount of resistance can be difficult to remember, bring a notebook and log your progress. When you go in for your next workout, you’ll know exactly where you were last week – and exactly where you want to be this week.
  7. Try drop sets. Once a month, really mix things up by doing a drop set or two. To perform a drop set, select an amount of resistance that will result in muscle failure after 8 – 12 reps. While you’ve reached relative failure, you haven’t reached absolute failure; quickly decrease the amount of weight by about 15% and continue. After 8 or so reps, you’ll hit failure again. Reduce the resistance by another 15% and continue. Keep going. It’s a great way to build size.
  8. Don’t overtrain. More isn’t better and your muscles need time to rebuild and recover. Don’t train your chest more than twice a week.
  9. Eat right. Ensure that you’re eating enough calories and getting the required amount of protein to support muscle growth.
  10. Keep good form. While the occasional cheat is acceptable, the majority of your bench presses should demonstrate proper technique. Most people cheat by not lowering the bar fully to their chest before pressing it back up. Ensure that you’re getting a full range of motion.

Building a bigger chest isn’t rocket science – but it does take a little know-how and some real effort and dedication. And if you have any other chest-building tips, share them in the comments below.

How to Work Inner Pecs.

Hey Davey,

Quick question, when working out my chest how can I gain more muscle in the inner/middle of my chest? I have pretty good pecs, but I have a little bit of a valley between my pecs and they are kinda separated so I almost have the appearance of “moobs.” Any ideas of how to fix this?

Adam

Hey Adam,

Many men strive for chiseled, balanced pec muscles – but working the inner area can be a real challenge. In fact, there’s actually some debate whether or not you can actually target this area of your chest through exercise. Ultimately, it’s going to take additional research to settle the debate once and for all.

In the meantime, I do have a few exercises and techniques for you to try.

  1. Close-grip bench press. When performing bench press exercises, changing the width of your grip changes the muscles being used. A wider grip targets the outer portions of you pectoral muscles, while a closer grip brings the focus inward. With your arms fully extended, try gripping the barbell with hands shoulder-width apart. As you lower the bar toward your chest, you’ll feel it in your inner chest and triceps.
  2. Flies. There are a number of ways to perform pec fly exercises. You can use a machine, dumbbells or a even your own bodyweight. While the machines are great, dumbbells provide more of a challenge. Recline on a flat bench with a dumbbell in either hand. Keeping your arms straight, extend them outward from your sides. Using your chest muscles (and keeping your arms as straight as possible), pull your arms straight up in front of your face. Lower, and repeat.

    If you don’t have access to weights, you can do slider push-ups on the floor. On a flat and smooth surface, press your palms against the floor in a push-up position. Place a facecloth under each palm. Keeping your body in a push-up position, slide both hands out to either side. Then, pull back in. Repeat.

  3. Cable cross-overs. Though I don’t usually do cable cross-overs, they are a great exercise – and you will feel them in your inner pectoral region. Stand equidistant between two cable towers with the handles close to the top. Grasp the handles and pull in front of you. Bending a bit at the elbows, cross one hand over the other and complete the exercise. Repeat.

Whether or not these exercises will specifically develop your inner pectoral region, they will build and enhance your chest. And fear not: Pectoral muscles are notoriously slow to develop, so keep with it! And make sure that you continue to increase the levels of resistance to keep your muscles building!

Love,
Davey

Wide Grip Vs. Narrow Grip Bench Press.

Mr. McMuscles demonstrates the narrow bench press grip.

The bench press is one of the most common strength training exercises around; it’s tried, true and extremely effective. Though the bench press primarily works the pectoral muscles in your chest, by changing the width of your grip, you can change the focus of the muscles being worked.

Standard Grip

Though many Olympic barbells come with etched guides for your hands, a standard grip is different from person to person. Generally, a standard grip results in a perfect 90 degree elbow angle in the starting position of the exercise. In addition to your pectoral muscles, the standard grip will also result in some activation of the deltoids and triceps.

Narrow Grip

To use a narrow grip, exercisers must start with their hands shoulder-width apart (as depicted in the accompanying photo). This is several inches closer together than in the standard grip. With this grip, and by keeping your elbows in towards your hips as you lower the bar, you shift the focus of the exercise more into the triceps.

Wide Grip

To use a wide grip, extend your hands a few inches beyond the standard grip. While widening your grip will reduce the range of motion in each repetition, the focus of the exercise will primarily be on the outer portions of your pectorals. Since this exercise puts considerable stress on shoulder joints, it’s not for everyone. In addition, it’s generally recommended that exercisers only lower the bar 3 – 4 inches from the chest – and not all the way down.

By changing your grip, you can change the focus of the muscles being exercised. But for most of us, a standard grip is safest and sufficient. Still, it’s always good to occasionally mix things up and to keep your workout fresh.

5 Biggest Bench Press Mistakes.

There’s no doubt that the bench press is one of the most effective strength training exercises available. To make the most of your time on the bench, avoid these 5 common mistakes and pitfalls:

  1. Bad shoulder and/or back posture. When performing reps on a bench press, good form is paramount. Ensure that your shoulder blades are squeezed in and retracted. While your butt and shoulders will make contact with the bench, you should maintain a natural curve in your lower back.
  2. Improper grip. Gripping the bar properly can make a world of difference and prevent wrist injury. Grasp the bar in the lower part of your palm and ensure that your wrist is over your elbow and in straight alignment with your forearm.
  3. Negative self-talk. If you say, “I’m not going to be able to lift this,” then you probably won’t; you’ve defeated yourself before you even started. Replace doubt and negative self-talk with positive affirmations. You may still fall short – but you’re more likely to get that extra repetition in. “I think I can” will get you further than “I think I can’t.”
  4. Lifting feet off of ground. As I’ve mentioned before, elevating your feet while bench pressing is dangerous. If you’re looking to add extra challenge or variety to your workout, try drop sets, incline or decline benches, negative sets or adjusting your rest time.
  5. Lack of goals. A lot of people perform exercises like the bench press without considering the larger picture. Everything you do in the gym should be connected to a goal. Are you training for size? Strength? Endurance? Maintenance? Depending on your goal or goals, you’ll need to use the bench press differently. Spend time articulating your goals and figuring out how the bench press can help you get there.

Do you have any other bench press mistakes that you’ve noticed while at the gym? Share them in the comments below!

Bench Press with Legs Up: What’s the Deal?

Dear Davey,

I’ve seen a lot of guys at the gym bending their knees or raising their legs in some way while they bench press. What’s that about? What are the benefits?

From,
Mitch

Hey Mitch,

Like anyone who has spent some time in a free weight room, you’ve seen individuals perform the bench press (or similar chest exercises) with their feet up on the bench or in the air. It’s fairly common.

However, I’d advise against it.

I’ve talked to a number of people that perform the bench press with their legs elevated and they usually do it because they believe they’re challenging their muscles more and/or they have lower back pain and it makes the exercise more comfortable. Unfortunately, lifting your legs makes the exercise unsafe. Consider the lack of balance and risk of injury when pressing heavier weights. And when it comes to challenging your muscles, there are better ways to train for gains.

To bench press properly, you should create a wide base by spreading your feet apart. Your knees should be above your feet and most of your weight should be driving into your heels. While the bench press is a chest exercise, much of the weight is supported by your legs – and by pushing through your legs and into your heels, you can help drive the weight up. Doing this will enable you to move more weight (vs. a legs elevated position), so I’d make the argument that the traditional bench press position is both safer and more effective.

If you are looking for alternatives and variety, consider drop sets, incline or decline benches, negative sets, grip variations or adjusting your rest time.

Love,
Davey

How To Get Davey Wavey’s Chest.

It shouldn't be about creating Davey's chest so much as it should be about building the best version of your own!

A lot of people send me emails asking about my chest and the exercises that I use to build and maintain it. While I’m happy to share my chest routine, I don’t think it should be about trying to emulate my chest. I think it should be about creating a stronger, healthier chest for yourself. It’s about building your best chest – not mine.

Having said that, most people are surprised to find out that my chest workout is only 35 minutes long – and that I perform it only once or twice a week. I’m a huge fan of effective and efficient workouts. None of us – unless you’re training for the Olympics – need to be spending hours and hours at the gym. And in many cases, longer workouts can actually be detrimental.

At any rate, my typical chest workout consists of four basic exercises:

  • 4 sets of 8 reps on the flat bench press @ 185 lbs
  • 4 sets of 8 reps on the incline bench press @ 145 lbs
  • 4 sets of 8 reps on the decline bench press @ 165 lbs
  • 4 sets of 8 reps of 45 lb dumbbell pec flies

I use free weights since I have access to a gym, but many people – especially beginners – will see great results even if they start with body weight exercises like push-ups. In other words, you’ll need to modify my routine to make it your own.

Beyond doing effective exercises with good form, it’s important to remember a few things when aiming to build a bigger chest:

  1. Fatigue on last rep. Whatever weight you currently use, you should be fatigued after the last repetition. If you aim for 8 reps like myself, and if you want bigger muscles, then you should be unable to perform a 9th rep. If you can do a 9th rep, then you need to add more weight.
  2. Progression. In order to build bigger chest muscles, progressing to heavier levels of resistance is absolutely necessary. As your muscles build, you’ll have to increase the amount of resistance to maintain muscle failure on the last rep. You muscles only grow if they are forced to do so – and so progression is a requirement.
  3. Fuel your body with proper nutrition. Ensure that you are getting both protein and carbs after your workout – and that you are meeting your daily requirement of protein. Moreover, proper nutrition will support a lean body mass to help increase muscular definition. Do your best to eat like a caveman.
  4. Time. Allow yourself some time; Rome wasn’t built in a day. And it takes serious time and dedication to transform your body. But a year from now, you’ll be glad that you started today.

There’s really no magic to it. A stronger and healthier chest is just a matter of effective exercises combined with a little fitness know-how.

The Most Effective Bicep and Chest Exercises.

Dear Davey,

I want to get my chest/pecs to pop out more. Any suggestions on what exercises that may help with that? I work both my chest and biceps vigorously to get them bigger, but nothing seems to work. Can you help me out?

From,
Keith

Dear Keith,

This is actually a really common question – and it’s one that I get a lot.

Interestingly, the two most effective exercises for biceps and chest are barbell bicep curls and the bench press, respectively. While both of these exercises are definitely old school, they are tried, tested, true – and effective.

A barbell bicep curl, pictured to the right, is pretty straightforward. Simply load a barbell with weight plates. Stand in an upright position with an underhand grip. Contract your biceps to pull the barbell up toward your shoulders. Pause, lower and then repeat.

The bench press is also pretty simple – though it’s always a good idea to work with a spotter. Load the bench’s barbell with weight plates. Lie on the bench and hold the bar just beyond shoulder width apart. Lift the barbell off of the rack, and lower until it touches your chest lightly. Then, press the barbell away from the chest until arms are extended. Pause, then repeat.

Since you’re going for size, it’s important to use the right amount of weight. Use enough resistance so that you’re only able to do between 6 and 10 repetitions of each exercise before your muscles are fully fatigued. If you can do more than 10 repetitions, the weight it too light. Moreover, keep pushing yourself to heavier and heavier levels of resistance; your muscles won’t grow unless they are forced to do so.

If you don’t have access to a gym or equipment, push-ups are a great bench press alternative. To make push-ups more challenging, try some of my push-up variations. Or strap on a backpack loaded with extra weight. This will help force your muscles to grow.

The best at-home bicep exercise is a chin-up. You could buy a chin-up bar at a local exercise supply store. Most can be installed quickly in a doorway in your home. Or, you can take your workout outside – and perform chin-ups on playground equipment. To make it harder, you can even make use of ankle weights.

Hope that helps!

Love,
Davey

How to Get Rid of Man Boobs.

For most men, man boobs can be eliminated through a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and nutrition. For others, a conversation with the doctor may be needed.

Dear Davey,

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have man boobs.

It’s hard for me to even write this email, but I really have no idea how to get rid of them and you’re my only hope.

What advice do you have?

Thanks,
Ryan

Dear Ryan,

Thanks for your email and the courage to reach out.

Let’s face it: Man boobs can be a sensitive subject for men. It can be embarrassing and emasculating, despite whatever humor the name might imply.

What Causes Man Boobs?

Man boobs are generally caused by body fat, gynecomastia or some combination of the two. Often times, men gain weight in an unflattering way on top of their pectoral (chest) muscles – and this can lead to the creation of man boobs. For other men, man boobs are the result of a hormonal imbalance in a medical condition termed gynecomastia. The body produces decreased testosterone and increased estrogen, usually in response to medicine. And of course, for some people, it’s a combination of both weight gain and gynecomastia.

How to Get Rid of Man Boobs?

If your man boobs are the result of weight gain, then your remedy is a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and proper diet. It’s not a magic fix, but it’s very doable. In essence, you’ll have to create a calorie deficit wherein you burn more calories than you consume – and the most effective way to do this is through exercise (and not starvation).

As cardiovascular exercise is very demanding, you’ll incinerate calories during and after your workout. Interval training is recommended for weight loss, and intervals can be practiced on a treadmill, bike, rowing machine, elliptical, etc. In a nutshell, interval training is alternating between a medium-intensity pace and a high-intensity pace.

Strength training does two things: It adds on muscle (which will burn calories all day long) and helps to shape and remodel your body, including your chest area. While a total body exercise program is recommended, put special effort into chest exercises like push-ups, the chest press, the pec fly, etc. Since you’re looking to build muscle in this area, it’s best to do a workout that combines a low number of repetitions for each exercise (6-10 reps) and heavy resistance (i.e., a lot of weight).

But if your man boobs are caused by gynecomastia due to medication, then you’ll need to talk to a physician. There may be alternative treatments, or options that are available to you. I’m not a physician, and I do understand that each situation is very different. A conversation with your doctor is strongly recommended, difficult as it may be.

But for most men, it’s a jockstrap and not a bra that is needed to treat man boobs. It’s about hitting the gym, or even exercising at home. It’s about becoming more active, stronger and healthier through exercise and proper nutrition. Man boobs are treatable, and the sooner you get the ball rolling, the better. As one of my favorite fitness quotes says: “A year from now, you’ll be glad you started today.”