My bra size fluctuates as I lose and gain weight—why is that? Is there anything I can do to change that? —Mari B.
You’re not alone! Most women notice that the first place they lose weight is in their upper body—arms, shoulders, and unfortunately, boobs.
Men and women store fat, and burn it, differently. The “beer belly” is associated with overweight men for a reason—they tend to gain visceral (i.e. wedged deep between organs and tissues) fat around the midsection. While visceral fat is considered more dangerous because it can lead to heart disease, it’s also a lot easier to lose than the stubborn stuff that seems to stick to the lower body.
When women gain weight, they’re more likely to develop superficial subcutaneous fat (right under the surface of skin) around the lower-body areas like the hips, legs, and butt. They also naturally carry more than men do: The average healthy woman’s has anywhere between 25 to 31 percent body fat, while a man in comparable physical shape carries about 18 to 24 percent body fat.
At first blush, it all seems a little unfair. More fat than men and it’s harder to burn off? But you’ve gotta remember that this all has an evolutionary purpose. Women are better at storing and retaining calories because we’re the ones who have the babies—there’s no coincidence that a woman has to have at least 12 percent body fat in order to menstruate. Our bodies need enough fuel to support another human life.
OK, so you can’t exactly be mad about that, but it’s why instead of losing weight evenly all over, the subcutaneous fat in our upper bodies tends to go first. Breasts are made of glandular and fatty tissue that fluctuates in size depending on your overall body composition. So it’s possible that if you lose weight, you might notice a drop in bra size.
In my opinion, you’ve got two options—quit losing weight, or increase the size of your chest through strength training. Fortunately, our pectoral muscles are situated right under the breast tissue. By targeting them, along with other supporting muscles, it’s possible to lift, tighten, and perk up your chest.
Is this workout going to take you from an A-cup to a DD? Probably not. But it will improve your posture and give you a push-up bra effect. I’m a big fan! Watch the video for the play-by-play, and then try it for yourself twice a week in addition to your regular workouts to start seeing your body transform.
Equipment: Yoga mat, set of 5-pound weights, small towel
Estimated time: 10 minutes, 2 times per week
Works: Pectorals, shoulders, lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi, abdominals
20 reps; 5 on each side, four times
30 reps; 2 crosses is one rep
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