As a little kid growing up, I was afraid of a few major things.
One was rejection, whether it dealt with the girl I had a crush on in the back of my geometry class or making the baseball team, after a week of busting my ass at tryouts. Nobody likes getting rejected.
Another thing I was afraid of was failure. It never felt good coming home to mom after a big math test, with a “54” circled in red marker next to a “good effort -- but see me after class!” I mean, those weren’t the types of results that got hung on the fridge -- I can tell you that much.
And, finally, I was utterly horrified by the prospect of growing man boobs.
Yeah, yeah, have your laugh. I understand it’s a funny term. And sure, today, as a 23-year-old, I admit this seems like a somewhat petty fear. But as a young guy who attended many a pool party back in the day, I can assure you having “moobs” was quite the cross to bear.
I’ve always had a rather slender physique, so thankfully I was never forced to deal with the matter myself. Nevertheless, I've always empathized with the guy at the pool party jack-knifing into the deep end with his T-shirt still on to avoid getting ridiculed for some stubborn flab in his chest area.
But any guys who have dealt with the phenomenon firsthand know that man boobs can be an embarrassing physical attribute to cope with. I could only assume that the female equivalent to having “moobs” would be labia that hung so low they appear to be a small set of testes.
After catching wind of some growing curiosity around the office pertaining to what -- on a more anatomical level -- man boobs really are, I decided to do some digging of my own. So, like the kid with his shirt on in the pool, let’s dive right in.
According to Medical News Today, the formal term used to describe the selling of breasts in men is “gynecomastia,” which is “more common in newborn males, boys during puberty and older men.”
People might make fun of teenage guys for having man boobs because everyone thinks man boobs only come when someone is too chubby, but that’s not always the case. Most of the time, adolescent guys will develop gynecomastia due to a hormone imbalance that occurs during puberty.
As one men’s health blog called 50ish.org explains, as young men begin to start producing more testosterone to help promote muscle growth, some of that excess testosterone will inadvertently get converted into estrogen.
This estrogen buildup is usually only temporary. And while it may result in the formation of some, well, breasts, they’ll usually only be there for a couple of awkward months.
So if you’re a teenage reader, don’t run out and buy any brassieres just yet.
As for very young -- and very old -- men, the issue can also be hormone-related.
For newborn boys, it’s likely that they’re still carrying some of their mother’s hormones, which explains their possible bosoms.
Old men, on the other hand, will sadly see some of their testosterone decline as their age increases -- so that’s why grandpa might look a little saggy in the chest, too.
Now, for men in their 20s and 30s, man boobs can surely sprout up as a result of poor fitness and life habits. As The Sun highlights, regular ol’ obesity and drug use can surely lead to moobs in younger guys.
For the majority of people who deal with man boobs, they’re usually just fat. When we gain weight, some of us gain it in our “love handles,” some of us gain it in our guts and a good portion of us gain it in our chests. What makes this even more frustrating is that fat stored in the chest is usually tough fat to burn off.
While many guys think that doing an excessive amount of pushups or bench press reps will magically convert that fat into rock hard muscle, that’s usually not the best plan of action. According to AskMen, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is usually the most efficient way of burning unwanted fat in the chest.
HIIT is the best way to target -- and zap -- your moobs. Because it’s so intense, “your body will expend a great deal of calories -- even after you are finished working out -- in order to repair and rebuild the muscle tissues that have been damaged.”
Another reason you might be dealing with man boobs is drug use.
As The Sun continues to note, steroid-use is a common culprit. I remember a few years back, before he actually admitted to using steroids, paparazzi snapped some photos of A-Rod flaunting a pretty respectably sized rack on the beach.
So if you’re looking to hit 50-plus home runs this year, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Interestingly enough, marijuana use has also been linked with man boobs -- albeit controversially.
If you’re one who likes to indulge in “munchies,” like Chappelle and Co. in the movie “Half Baked,” it’s more likely that the flattened box of Domino’s on your floor is responsible for the fat in your chest, not the joint you smoked.
Although, like I said, the two certainly might be connected.
The bottom line, however, is that man boobs, though slightly embarrassing to have in your younger years, are fairly normal. Whether they're temporary products of your adolescent hormones or a result of poor diet, they're not the end of the world.
Unsightly? Perhaps. But they're usually nothing a touch of cardio can't resolve -- if you stay committed.