If you're unhappy with your bulky pectoral muscles, you can reduce their size by paying less attention to your pecs and more attention to the remainder of your body. For muscle mass, the basic principles of "use it or lose it" apply. Dietary and exercises changes can help you meet your goals.
Reduce fat all over your body. It's impossible to target the fat cells you want to shrink, but losing weight will help you lose pectoral fat. There are 3,500 calories in 1 pound fat, so to lose weight, you must use more calories than you consume. Reducing your daily calorie intake by 500 calories allows you to lose 1 pound per week. There are several online calculators to help you determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body burns if you stayed in bed all day and night. If you're not physically active, any calories consumed over your BMR are stored as fat.
Change what you eat. Your diet should mainly consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Fat intake should not exceed 35 percent of your daily calories and no more than 7 percent should come from saturated fats, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Reduce your portion sizes. If you consume two servings of a food item, you're eating double the calories listed on the nutritional label. It's important to measure your servings to avoid overeating. The American Council on Exercise recommends cutting portion sizes by 10 to 15 percent to help lose fat.
Strength train your major muscle groups. You can strength train without adding bulky muscle to your physique. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so this increases your BMR. An example workout routine for your full body includes squats, lunges, crunches, back extensions and biceps curls.
Avoid large amounts of weight during pectoral strengthening exercises. Bench presses and pec flyes are common pectoral targeting exercises, as well as pushups. You can still perform these exercises to maintain strength and tone of your pectoral muscles, but to lose muscle mass, perform exercises with lighter weights and do fewer repetitions. So instead of using 120 pounds for a bench press, use 50 pounds and do eight repetitions instead of 12.
Perform 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity most days of the week. Some moderate-intensity aerobic activities include light jogging, brisk walking, actively playing with children and yard work. If an hour of exercise seems impossible, try 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Some vigorous activities include running, bicycling over 10 mph, swimming laps and up-hill hiking.
- You can lessen the intensity of pectoral muscle use during pushups by placing your knees on the floor.
- Keep a calorie journal to keep track of your calories consumed during the day.