Tag Archives: Chest

Is it Possible to Expand Your Ribcage?

A debate still exists whether it is possible to expand your rib cage as an adult. I am not sure why this debate even exists today as the principles governing our physiology have become common knowledge.

Before I start to explain how it is possible I first need to express why there is an interest in such a thing. Most people want big arms and a big chest not a large rib cage. Having a large rib cage is important in bodybuilding for various poses such as the side chest pose. There needs to be a solid foundation for inches of serrated pectoral muscle to rest on, as well as fully developed serratus anterior.

The second reason is the bench press. The bigger rib cage you have the less distance the bar has to travel to reach your chest. If you have experience with the floor press you will know that some people come close to touching their chest in this exercise. Also, If you have ever bulked up 30 or 40 lbs you would have also noticed the distance between the barbell and the chest in the floor press.

These two reasons are enough to understand why there is a whole world of expertise on this subject. A one inch difference in the bench press could add 50 lbs to someone’s max bench press.

As you build the muscles of the chest everything grows in tandem with it including the pectoralis major and minor, intercostal muscles, and serratus anterior. And with it so does the rib cage.

If you re one of those people that don’t think ribs can get larger here is a thought for you to meditate on. If I were to train my legs and increase my upper legs from 23″ to 33″ do you not think the femur would have increased in diameter especially considering your squat must have increased from 300 to 900 lbs. Of course your femur would have increased in diameter, as well as the ligaments, tendons, and all connective tissue around each joint.

As the muscles of the chest and back become larger the rib cage expands. This happens regardless of the exercises chosen just as long as the end result is muscular hypertrophy. However, it is no secret that some exercises are more specific for the purpose of rib cage expansion, such as the pullover.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been quoted as saying, “You will not believe the ache in the sternum that this movement will produce!” He attributed the pullover as responsible for his large rib cage. At the end of his chest/back super-set routine he would always finish with multiple sets of pullovers in which he would lie cross-ways over a bench allowing his hips to drop as he took a deep breath and lower the weight stretching the intercostal muscles as much as possible.

If the greatest champion bodybuilder of all time claims to have used this method to expand his rib cage why does a debate over the possibility of rib cage expansion exist? Take the advice of someone who has developed a 58″ chest and ignore the naysayers.

Sunday – Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps

  • Bench Press
    • 225 lbs x 1 rep
    • 235 lbs x 1 rep
    • 250 lbs x 1 rep
  • Incline Bench Press (170 lbs, 35°), 3 sets x 7 reps
  • Standing Shoulder Press (115 lbs), 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Front Lateral Raises (15 lbs)*, 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Side Lateral Raises (20 lbs)*, 3 sets x 12 reps

Comments:

* I did front lateral raises using a light weight because my right shoulder is still sore from when I hurt it several months ago. It also gives me a chance to focus on using perfect technique and resting minimally between sets. Nevertheless I still got a good burn and pump in the shoulders as a result.

Friday – Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, & Calves

  • Bench Press
    • 225 lbs x 1 rep
    • 235 lbs x 1 rep
    • 245 lbs x 1 rep
  • Incline Bench Press (170 lbs, 35°), 3 sets x 7 reps
  • Standing Shoulder Press (110 lbs), 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Triceps Extension (30 lbs), 3 sets x 12 reps
  • One Legged Standing Calf Raises (45 lbs)*, 2 sets x 50 reps

Comments:

* In order to do three sets the next workout I will have to drop the weight down to perhaps 35 lbs. I could barely get 50 reps on my second set as my calves felt like they were on fire.

Sunday – Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps

  • Bench Press* (215 lbs)
    • 3 set x 7 reps
  • Incline Bench Press (165 lbs, 35°), 3 sets x 7 reps
  • Standing Shoulder Press (135 lbs), 2 sets x 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Triceps Extension (30 lbs), 2 sets x 12 reps

Comments:

* I am still not able to use complete full range on the bench press since my shoulder injury. As a result of the shorter range of motion I have been using slightly heavier weights then I would be able to use otherwise.

Sunday – Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps

  • Bench Press (205 lbs), 3 sets x 7 reps
  • Incline Bench Press (160 lbs, 35°), 3 sets x 7 reps
  • Standing Shoulder Press (120 lbs), 2 sets x 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Triceps Extension (30 lbs), 2 sets x 12 reps

Comments:

I feel very frustrated with myself as my right shoulder is still sore from an injury I sustained while doing push presses over three months ago. I am certain once this injury heals I will be able to dramatically increase the weight I am lifting in each movement within a short period of time. However, at the age of 37 my body doesn’t recover as fast as it used to and more patience is required on my part.

Monday – Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps

  • Bench Press (195 lbs), 3 sets x 7 reps
  • Incline Bench Press* (160 lbs, 35°), 3 sets x 7 reps
  • Standing Shoulder Press** (145 lbs), 3 sets x 7 reps

Comments:

* Most of the reps I performed were short of reaching my chest by about 2 inches. My right shoulder is still sore from three months ago when I hit it with a barbell while doing push presses. It has been a long slow road to recovery.

** I had to drop the weight I use in the standing shoulder press since I started doing full range bench presses again. Now that I added incline presses back into my routine the fatigue in my shoulders is even that much greater. I am not concerned as I am sure once my body adapts I will slowly increase the weight again. I just thought I should make a not of this phenomena in my training journal for reference in the future.