Men and Flabby Chests

Dear Chris,

I am 71 years old and have been working out for the past 2 years. I have lost about 20 pounds and feel good. My question is: How do I deal with the flabby chest? It is the only area of my body which has not responded to my work-outs. I am 6.1 and weigh about 190 lbs and about 15 is pure fat “boobs”. Thanks for any advice.

Bill

Dear Bill,

It’s great to hear that you are working out regularly and have also lost some weight. Your question about flabby chest is a good one. As we age, there is both an increase in fat and a redistribution of that fat, even though our body weight may not increase or even decrease somewhat. That is because with the increase in fat, there is a natural decrease in muscle and bone mass. What you are doing when you do resistance exercises (weight training) is slowing down that process so keep up the good work.

However, some of the decrease in muscle is due to changes in our hormonal balance, which also happen as we age. So, although you are combatting the changes that occur with disuse, you can’t entirely reverse the clock. I’m assuming that you have put on some muscle as you’ve increased your physical activity. Are you increasing your muscle size, firming up the muscle you currently have throughout your body, or just working on certain areas? You should be exercising all of the major muscle groups regardless if some areas have more fat than others.

One way to help combat the “flabby chest syndrome” is to work on your pectoral (or chest) muscles. Although you can not “spot reduce” in any one area, you can continue to lose fat by being active and you can firm up and even increase the size of the muscles that are hidden underneath the fat. That combination of bigger and firmer muscles along with continued fat loss will reduce the flabbiness in your chest area.

How is your mid-section? Do you still have excess fat around your gut? This is more important than in your chest area since fat in that area is very portable and can play havoc on your blood cholesterol levels. Fat in the chest is more of a nuisance than anything else. If you still have excess fat overall, you may not see the flabby chest reduce much unless you lose a bit more weight. Don’t get me wrong, 190 lbs is not bad for someone who is 6′ 1″, but you may still be 15 or 20 lbs overweight (depending on the size of your frame). If you continue to lose the weight gradually and if you build up the pectoral muscles, you should notice a change in the flabbiness. You may not ever get in to a perfectly firm chest, but you should see continued results even at 71.

So, let me know what you are doing for your chest in terms of weight training. That will help me determine a little more if you can be doing specific exercises to help firm that area up. Maybe you could also tell me roughly what your weight loss pattern has been say in the past few months. Are you losing consistently and if so, roughly how much per week? Are you eating a balanced diet? These are all important factors to consider.

To your health

Chris


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