Tag Archives: working out

MDJ vs. The Man-Boobs

Those would look awful even on a chick.

Even worse than love handles, the most painful part of being an XL Dude like me are the man-boobs.

Man-boobs, or “moobs,” as they’re popularly (or unpopularly) called, are the unfortunate fat deposits that form over your pectoral muscles and inevitably lose the battle with gravity, causing a dude to look like a Baywatch star, and I’m not talking David Hasselhoff.

Sir Isaac Newton – 1, XL Dudes – 0.

Obviously, the best way to lose fat is to burn it, so part 1 of winning the Manboob Battle is to have a light salad once in a while, and do 25-40 minutes of good cardio 3-4 times a week.

But have you ever seen how a balloon looks when you let all the air out of it? It’s saggy, droopy, and all stretched out. That’s exactly what happens when you lose your pectoral fat, but don’t invest a bit of effort into shaping the underlying muscle.

That’s where lifting weights can help.

This is the chest workout I’m using to burn off my giant, gelatinous manboobs.


1. Incline Bench Press

This exercise targets the upper pectoral muscles – roughly the area between your collarbone, and halfway down to your nipple. Building this area allows you to “cheat” having a great chest, especially when you’re in a t-shirt – it creates a “cliff” for the fabric to hang off of, giving the impression of mass and shape.

Normally, people like doing these towards the middle part of the workout, but given my terrible manboob affliction, I’ve decided to put it up front, so I can work my upper pecs hard and heavy, while I’m still fresh.

I normally do a quick warm-up set of 18-25 reps with a very light weight, then do three sets of 12-10-8 reps, adding additional weight each set (or, as Joe Weider calls it, “pyramiding”), working to fatigue each time. On my last set, as my upper pecs fatigue, I quickly drop off 5-kilograms on each side to be able to pump out more reps, then keep on progressively dropping more plates as fatigue hits, until I’m sweating and grunting for my 25th repetition with a naked bar.

It gives a fabulous burn, and makes you feel like a Greek god when you pull on your Spider-Man t-shirt afterwards.

You can do this with dumbbells too – it’s a bit trickier because you have to balance both sides individually, but gives a great stretch.


2. Flat Bench Press

This is the bread and butter of any half-decent bodybuilder, and helps give overall fullness and mass to the total chest area, with a bit of impact on your front deltoids and triceps.

There really isn’t much to this exercise other than to just go for it.

I’ve seen a lot of dudes cheat on this exercise, not even letting the barbell all the way down for the sake of looking like they have a big bench. Don’t fall for that macho alpha male poser fluff – if it isn’t a weight you can’t comfortably allow to descend all the way to a finger’s width of your sternum, it’s too heavy.

One tip that helps me get through my final reps on each set, as I feel my pecs faltering is to squeeze the bar as hard I can. I read somewhere this recruits more muscles to help you keep pumping out the last few reps, and I’ve found it to be extremely effective.

I don’t do a warm-up set for this anymore, since I’m still pumped from the incline bench press, but still stick to the 12-10-8 pyramid sets.


3. Decline Machine Press

It’s hard to find a gym that has a decline bench, so I’m stuck doing machine presses by default. But I think that works better for me, since I’ve always felt a bit awkward and wobbly doing barbell presses on a decline bench.

This is a really delicious exercise to be doing, since the machine guides the motion, so you can really just savor the push of each rep, and getting a really amazing squeeze at the peak of your press.

I like to go really, really slow on the decline machine press – each push lasts about 2 seconds, the squeeze on top lasts about a second, and I really slow down the descent to 3 seconds, just feeling the resistance pushing against my muscles.

Most dudes ignore any movements that target the lower chest, but I strongly advise against that. A well-developed lower chest is what gives separation and fullness from your ribcage, just like a WWE wrestler.


4. Incline Chest Fly’s

This is the only sculpting exercise I do on my chest, since I feel that detailing moves like cable fly’s won’t do me much good until I’ve lost a significant enough amount of fat for the striations and veins to pop out form my chest. This particular motion gives an extra pump to the part of your chest connecting to your shoulders and armpit, and is probably my all-time favorite chest exercise.

I tend to go light with this exercise, partly because my chest is just on fire by this point, and partly because I like to get a really good spread at the bottom. I want to be able to control the weight all throughout, so I don’t tear up my rotator cuffs or anything.

I’ve seen guys struggle with this exercise, doing it completely wrong – they turn it into a press (pushing upwards motion), instead of a fly (sweeping squeezing motion). The best tip I read says that to perform this exercise properly is to imagine yourself hugging a giant tree.

I make sure not to clang the dumbbells at the top, too – that relieves your muscles of tension (which is not the point of working out!), and the momentum might cause you to go too fast on your downward motion and rip your arm off. Instead, I bring them within a millimeter of each other, and give one good squeeze before the descent.


I hope to have some decent pictures of my chest to post in a couple of months. My manboobs aren’t exactly fit for public consumption just yet.

“M” is for “Manboobs,” apparently.

Got any other anti-manboob exercises you’d like to share?

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The Manly Man Manifesto (Why Real Men Work Out, and the Cheats We Need To Get There)


This article appears in the launch issue of Manila Bulletin’s super cool new men’s magazine, Garage, coming out sometime between now and February 2017.

Everybody needs to agree on this: real men work out to look sexy.

Once upon a time, being buff served a practical purpose. Buff cavemen slaughtered more stegosaurus for steak-and-bowling nights than scrawny ones. Buff religious figures (see: Samson, 88 Old Testament Road, Rome) put up bigger fights than their daintier counterparts (see: Jesus Christ, 3 Salvation Way, Bethlehem) before dying at the hands of pagans.


But these days, being buff satisfies a less pragmatic but infinitely more pleasurable cause than securing dinosaur steaks or conquering infidel hordes: bagging babes. I’ve learned one thing from the ones I’ve dated. All else being equal, they would rather make out with a sleek, nicely-toned dude than a pudgy man-boobed one.


Sadly, muscles don’t come easily. It’s not uncommon to see a skinny nerd complaining how six months of workouts have failed to produce the slightest change in his physique, except for a mildly uncomfortable hernia. Neither is it unusual to see a chunky slob moaning how despite a daily 8-kilometer jog, he still can’t see his toes without an intricate system of perfectly aligned hand mirrors and a miniature forklift.


Here’s the tragic reality. Just like on our LTO tests, we sometimes need to cheat to get babe-baggingly sexy. This is where fitness supplements come in.


Supplements falls broadly into two categories: mass-builders (which make us Really Big), and mass-reducers (which make us Really Ripped). There is, of course, the third category of anabolic steroids, which make us Really Dead, but seeing how dead men don’t get to bag quite as many babes as live ones do, we will artfully ignore them for now.


First Sexiness Postulate: to get Really Big, muscles need protein to reconstruct themselves. Chicken breasts, tuna, and lean pork seem to be favorites among the monsters I’ve lifted weights with. The problem is that these natural protein-packed choices come with excess baggage like sodium and calories.


Here’s where protein shakes come in. Concentrated protein in powder form with minimal nasties. Brilliant. If Bruce Banner had heard of them, he’d never gone lounging in front of a gamma ray to mutate himself into a permanently roid-raged, green freak.


They don’t taste particularly great though.


Imagine a tall, cold glass filled with a rich, creamy, chocolate froth. Sounds nice? Now imagine accidentally tipping a muddy-tasting ladleful of munggo guisado into it. (That fluttering you hear is the sound of bodybuilders all over the country nodding sadly in agreement.)


Second Sexiness Postulate: getting Really Ripped means burning more calories than are consumed. Since it’s impossible to convince us real men to swear off pizza and sisig, fitness manufacturers instead sell us products called thermogenics, whose function is to throw our metabolic systems into overdrive the Whole Freaking Day.


Here’s how they make you feel.


You’re in an incessant sweat. Your pulse is racing the whole day. I am told that your body is operating two degrees above normal. No wonder bodybuilders are cranky. Their armpits are perpetually damp. Imagine having to walk into a swank Serendra date with wet armpits. There is no way you would be sweetly pleasant in this state.


I suppose that what I am looking for is compassion for bodybuilders, despite their general appearance as a conceited, temperamental bunch.


I ask you this – if you ate nothing but munggo milkshakes, and had persistently wet underarms, wouldn’t you be in a foul mood too? Around us are men who have sacrificed worldly wonders like deep-dish pizzas and frappucinos for a simple, noble vision: to be sexy enough to bag a babe. I say that vision is worth respecting. We have no stegosaurus left to slaughter, no barbarian heretics to slay. A man of muscle needs assurance that he remains relevant and useful to this world.


And what better reassurance is there than being loved?

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Another Testosterone Explosion Worthy of Jestoni Alarcon

I punished myself with a hardcore chest-and-shoulder 2-hour session at the gym tonight – first time I’d touched those two bodyparts in almost three weeks, and the first time I’d had the stamina to do a back-to-back at the gym this year.

(You’re getting old, MDJ – you used to rip out 4-hour marathons when you were a strapping young buck of 22. Now you’re 27 and fat.)

I confess that I have been getting lazy. Lately, I find myself using machines whenever I can, instead of free weights. And so as punishment, I forced myself to do my whole chest routine using dumbbells, which technically is the most difficult way to work out. You need to balance and stabilize using just your body, you see, no levers and pulleys to help cheat your way through.

I amazed myself. I pulled off a final set of  dumbbell bench presses using a pair of 95-pounders.  That’s the heaviest I’ve ever lifted on dumbbells.

But it’s all good.

Summer is coming up, and I do need to get into slim, trim, pumped up shape. Much like this man, the true mecca of manhood, the shaman of sexy, the Thursday night delight, Jestoni Alarcon.

MDJ Superstar is confident that by the time summer comes around, he will look exactly like his good friend Jestoni.


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