Expand Your Rib Cage
There are two procedures that you can follow to develop a huge chest measurement: increase the size of your pectoral muscles, and expand your rib cage. We will be looking at pectoral development in the training section. Our purpose here is to outline a few techniques that will give you an impressive foundation to develop your pectorals on. Keep in mind that the following exercises will not stretch an ectomorph's 40-inch chest into a mesomorph's 50-inch chest. Genetics dictates the upper limit. Still, by regularly using the following routine, you can be assured of maximizing your potential. Every little bit counts, and this program takes only five to 10 minutes.
We should point out first (and we hate to break it to you this way) that, if you are over the age of 20 to 21, you will experience less success with this routine than someone 15 to 15 years old. The underlying basis for rib- cage expansion is stretching the cartilages that connect the ribs to the sternum (center rib-cage bone). By your early 20s these cartilages have begun to harden and lose their pliability. This means stretching and lengthening them is much more difficult. It doesn't mean a 30- or 40- year-old can't expand his rib cage. He can. It's just that the teenage years are the most productive for stretching the rib cage. Once you reach your mid to late 20s, rib-cage expansion is much more difficult.
To effectively stretch the rib-cage cartilage, we must attack it from two different angles. The first approach is from the inside out. Every time you inhale, you are in effect stretching the rib-cage cartilage. We take advan- tage of this fact by performing what are commonly called breathing squats. Breathing squats are performed like regular squats, but with the emphasis on breathing rather than thigh development. Because the movements are so
similar, we suggest you perform breathing squats on the same day as your leg workouts. Instead of heavy weight for 10 to 12 reps, we suggest 25 to 30 reps with a light weight. Inhale as deeply as you can, and then exhale as fully as possible. Follow a set of breathing squats with a set of dumbell pullovers, lying across a bench. Some books suggest lying lengthwise on a bench and using a barbell, but performing pullovers in this manner limits the range of movement. By lying across a bench you can fully arch and stretch the rib cage. Using a barbell will put most of the stress on the back and triceps muscles. A dumbell can be held in a manner that eliminates much of this strain.
As with breathing squats, the emphasis is on breath- ,.
ing, not the amount of weight used. (For a full description of squats and pullovers, see the training sections in this text.) We recommend performing 2 or 3 sets. Although it's personal preference, most bodybuilders like to perform the exercises at the end of their workouts.
Now that we have outlined a technique to improve your rib cage, the next order of business is to explain why. The first and most obvious reason is cosmetic. A large rib cage gives you a larger chest measurement. All things being equal (i.e. similar pectoral development), the bodybuilder with the larger rib cage will look far more im- pressive in a side chest shot. You may be limited by genetics in developing large pectoral muscles, but you can compensate by displaying your moderate chest muscles on a large rib box.
There is another reason for developing a large rib cage. If you have the potential for developing thick pec- torals, a solid foundation is a necessity. No matter how large your chest muscles, they will never have that full appearance unless they are displayed on a well- developed platform.
A final reason for rib-cage expansion is health. Regular breathing squats give the heart and lungs a terrific work- out. As well, a large rib cage provides greater protection for the body's internal organs - its main function after all.
THAT IS HOW TO EXPAND YOUR RIB CAGE