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Old 08-21-2012, 07:26 AM   #1
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Default Chest Development and Back Strength

Throwing this out there (as BTB would say).

I was talking with a buddy who is not happy with his chest development, even though he is a big, strong guy. He has been brainstorming ways to push for more chest growth (he has a big bench).

After our conversation, it occurred to me that I have about three friends who are in the same position: they are all ~5'10", 255-275#, have wide backs, with big arms/shoulders and thick torsos.

It made me wonder: In their instances, does having such a strong base for pressing (back) with strong arms/shoulders reduce the amount of work the pecs have to do and, therefore, make chest development more difficult?

If that is the case, are there specific exercises people would suggest to alleviate the imbalance?
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:32 AM   #2
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After our conversation, it occurred to me that I have about three friends who are in the same position: they are all ~5'10", 255-275#, have wide backs, with big arms/shoulders and thick torsos.
I'd suggest from a purely bodybuilding perspective that being 5'10" at 255+ they are going to be pretty chunky lads. The chest is a relatively small muscle which has the potential to carry a lot of fat. I'd suggest if they leaned out a bit they may find they actually have a fair bit of chest muscle.

The arms and back is a different deal and generally just get bigger, but you can't really see much of some muscles if they're covered up with fat.
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:56 AM   #3
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I'd suggest from a purely bodybuilding perspective that being 5'10" at 255+ they are going to be pretty chunky lads. The chest is a relatively small muscle which has the potential to carry a lot of fat. I'd suggest if they leaned out a bit they may find they actually have a fair bit of chest muscle.

The arms and back is a different deal and generally just get bigger, but you can't really see much of some muscles if they're covered up with fat.
I was actually coming from a muscle-building perspective moreso than strict body-building. I didn't want to put this in powerlifting as our discussions have been about muscle-building.

They have slightly different shapes, although they all carry varying amounts of belly. It's not that they don't have chests, it's that their chest are very under-developed in comparison to other muscle groups.
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:00 AM   #4
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I was actually coming from a muscle-building perspective moreso than strict body-building. I didn't want to put this in powerlifting as our discussions have been about muscle-building.

They have slightly different shapes, although they all carry varying amounts of belly. It's not that they don't have chests, it's that their chest are very under-developed in comparison to other muscle groups.
Well muscle-building or body-building whatever we're calling it, it's a physique based perspective rather than a strength one, I'd suggest there's a possibility that it's a bodyfat issue. And there is a possibility that at that level of bodyfat we wouldn't really know whether it is their chests which are flat or their bodyfat which is too high.
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:35 AM   #5
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I'd say it's possible. Stronger muscles will compensate for a lift if they have to.

Anything with a greater ROM for the chest should help, I think. Have they considered elevated push-ups (can be done weighted) or chest dips?
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:12 AM   #6
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Heavy dumbbell presses, maybe.

With a solid back and a great bench press, I wonder whether it's more a case of thinking the pecs don't look quite as developed as they might be and as Fazc says, maybe bodyfat as well.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:23 AM   #7
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Heavy dumbbell presses, maybe.

With a solid back and a great bench press, I wonder whether it's more a case of thinking the pecs don't look quite as developed as they might be and as Fazc says, maybe bodyfat as well.
I agree.

Db presses allow more contraction (more ROM) of the pecs.

For this reason I go in cycles on whether I do Bb or Db primarily for pressing.

My bench really hasn't had a stall and my pec's are coming up nice.

Just like any other lift the primary strong muscles will do the work, even if its the target muscle. Unless you are using a slow controled tempo like 4-1-4-1 or 3-2-3-1, then theres no getting around the target muscle doing the work.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:26 AM   #8
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It made me wonder: In their instances, does having such a strong base for pressing (back) with strong arms/shoulders reduce the amount of work the pecs have to do and, therefore, make chest development more difficult?

If that is the case, are there specific exercises people would suggest to alleviate the imbalance?
Interesting question. My guess is that strong front delts and triceps might play a big role. I am shoulder and tricep strong, chest small myself. That's one possibility.

Another point that's worth talking about is that I don't see too many natural bodybuilders with aesthetically gifted thick, full chests. I think it's kind of like a bicep peak. A lot of guys have that small slab. These small slabs always look better during a side chest pose, but usually are kind of average looking when relaxed.

Anyway, I'm no expert on building the chest. I always felt my chest work more during exercises like dumbbell presses. If I were training for sheer size I would probably be doing something like a 5x10 with dumbbell presses, dips, and maybe a little heavy pressing to keep the strength up. But that's just me. Not sure if that would actually work effectively or not.

I would look for exercises the lifter can really feel the chest working on, and then add some volume on them.

Back to flat pecs, Dave Tate is a good example. Not sure what this means, but...

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:45 AM   #9
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I find it hard to build a decent chest using barbell as my primary press. More use of DB and Iso exercises might help. I'm praying it helps me
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Old 08-21-2012, 04:16 PM   #10
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The reason Dave's chest looks like that is because he has had numerous pec tears on both sides I believe.
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