A regular client of mine struggles with love handles. His stomach looks and feels like a basketball. He also use to have “moobs”. I don’t particularly like the term. It stands for “man-boobs” which is an even worse term. The stigma attached to these unwelcome tenants is unfounded and hurtful… often leading to feelings of depression and low self-esteem. The correct term in most cases for enlarged male breasts is Gynecomastia.
After a year of faithful weightlifting, an active job and cutting out all sugar, my client lost most of his gynecomastia. With testosterone supplementation, he gained nice lean muscle. His body was transforming, but his love handles and distended gut remained. He still looked nearly obese.
“Why?” he asked. “Is there an exercise to “target” these areas?”
Easier said than done
On men, these are the toughest areas to tackle and sadly, they can’t be eliminated through movements like side bends and crunches. In fact, chances are better than 50% that solving the underlying issue involves seeing a doctor. My eventually client went to the doctor and was prescribed testosterone.
Three months later the stomach and love handles still remained.
Doctors will sometimes mistake the symptoms of gynecomastia, love handles and round gut for a low testosterone issue. But if the man is overweight and/or has an unhealthy liver, hormonal remedies (like testosterone cream or injections) will often fail. The body will likely convert the additional testosterone into more estrogen. This can worsen the original problem and also may risk enlargement of the prostate.
If you’re thinking about treatment for any of these issues, it may behoove you to consider the following:
- Improve the health of your liver. If your liver is healthy you will find it significantly easier to maintain a healthy body weight and your liver will break down excess estrogen effectively.
- Ask your doctor to consider Hormonal Imbalance, Type 2 Diabetes, Insulin Resistance or Syndrome X. Fat cells in the torso will cause the body to manufacture Aromatase (raising estrogen levels once again) and elevate blood insulin levels.
- Weightlifting (linear and progressive, closed chain movements like the squat and deadlift) along with vigorous, sweat-producing explosive, steady state or HIIT cardio … all these have proven benefits in raising testosterone levels, elevating mood and well-being, and giving a big boost to fat metabolism.
Bottom line: You’ve done a thousand sit-ups a day and not seeing results? Check your diet, your liver and hormonal health. If you’re exercising regularly, you may not be pushing yourself quite hard enough. I don’t believe in extreme reps or boot camps, but I do believe you should be breaking a good sweat during cardio or training. That requires 30 minutes or more of rigorous cardio and/or training, 5 days a week.
See you at the gym!