Developing The Muscles Of The Chest
Throughout all of recorded history broad shoulders and a deep, well-muscled chest have been considered to be the mark of physical supremacy. With good shoulders and a well-developed chest, only the addition of a powerful back is needed to possess the appearance of a strong man and to be able to perform the deeds of a strong man.
The world’s oldest exercises are dipping movements in various forms, designed primarily to build the muscles of the chest. Many native tribes, particularly the Polynesians, considered to be a type somewhat similar to the Hindus, have splendid development of the pectorals. For so many thousands of years the men of the race from which these men have sprung have had exceptional pectoral development so that it has become an inherited physical characteristic.
What is considered to be the world’s oldest exercise is the cat stretch or dipping in its various forms. This exercise has been practiced for thousands of years in
In this country we have a long list of men who have been titled world’s champion. Jim Londos has held the title for the longest period; Stanislaus Zbyscho has held and lost it the greatest number of times. Strangler Lewis, Dr. Roller, Jenkins, Farmer Burns, Joe Stecher, Earl Caddock, and the more modern wrestlers, Joe Savoldi and Gus Sunnenberg, have held the so-called world’s wrestling title. George Hackenschmidt, now rather an old timer, was champion in 1908 when they still wrestled. Only one of these men journeyed to
The Hindu wrestlers proved that they excel the world in real wrestling where butting, biting, kicking, airplane spins and the like are not considered a part of wrestling. These men practice wrestling for hours, ad specialize in deep knee bending which, as we will relate anent the rib box expanding exercises, is a real chest developer. Some time ago two Indian physical culturists established world’s records in floor dipping. One of these set a record of 5,130 dips and another exceeded this record by a single dip to make 5,131. The latter man was continually in action for four hours and forty-nine minutes. Only many hours, months and years of practice could build such unusual ability in this special exercise.
The constant practice of dipping by the world’s oldest races is proof that chest development has long been admired and the possession of big chests has been considered to be the mark of a strong man the world over. While the chest muscles are not the most important muscles of the body from the strength standpoint, they are very important in performing strength feats. They make it possible to hug or crush the body of another, not unlike it is done by Bruin when he becomes real angry. But from the viewpoint of the public, the appearance of these muscles is what counts most. That is why so many physical culturists spend an inordinate amount time on pectoral exercises. They know that a well-developed pair of these muscles will be so unusual that it will excite favorable attention everywhere. Not only when in bathing or athletic costume but in any form of clothing, the high, round, full chest will be particularly impressive.
Some of the greats of the past attained their chief fame through the well-rounded, highly developed chest muscles they displayed in all their photos. Antone Matysek, Tony Sansone, Tony Massimo, A. Passanent, and Earl Liederman displayed unusual pectoral development. Many of the more famous Liederman pupils followed their leader and built for themselves chest muscles which added to their fame and gave them universal recognition as strong and perfectly built men. Before going on with the means to develop the pectoral muscles it will be well to consider them anatomically first.
First is the pectoralis major, which arises from the anterior surface of the sternal half of the clavicle, the anterior surface of the sternum, the cartilages of the true ribs and the aponeurosis of the external oblique. The broad flat fibres which cover the entire upper chest area converge and form a thick mass which is inserted by a flat tendon into the crest of the greater tubercle of the humerus.
When the arm has been raised, the pectorals, acting with the latissimus dorsi muscles and the teres major, draw the arms down to the side of the chest. Acting alone they adduct and draw the arm across the chest and rotate it inward. From this brief description you can see why the two hands pullover while lying, and the lateral raise lying, ending by folding the arms over the chest, are prime exercises for developing these muscles
The pectoralis minor lies underneath and is entirely covered by the pectoralis major. It arises from the outer margins and the outer surfaces of the third, fourth and fifth fibs near their cartilages, and is inserted into the caracoid process of the scapula. Its work is to depress the point of the shoulder and rotate the scapula downward. In forced inspiration the pectoralis muscles aid in drawing the ribs upward and expanding the chest.
The serratus magnus arises from the outer surface and superior borders of the upper eight or nine ribs and the intercostals between them. The fibres pass upward and backward and are inserted in various portions of the ventral surface of the scapula. It carries the scapula forward and raises the vertical border of the bone as in pushing. It assists the trapezius in raising the acromium process and supporting weights on the shoulder. It also assists the deltoid in raising the arm.
The intercostals are found filling the spaces between the ribs. Each muscle consists of two layers, one external and one internal, and as there are eleven intercostal spaces on each side, and two muscles in each space, therefore there are forty-five intercostal muscles. The fibres of these muscles run in opposite directions.
The external intercostals extend from the tubercles of the ribs behind to the cartilages of the ribs in front, where they end in membranes which connect with the sternum. Each arises from the lower border of a rib and is inserted into the upper border of the fifth rib. The direction of the fibres is obliquely downward. The internal intercostals extend from the sternum to the angle of the ribs and are connected to the vertebral column. Each arises from the inner surface of a rib and is inserted into the upper portion of the rib below. The direction of the fibres is obliquely downward and opposite to the direction of the external intercostals.
There is some disagreement among experts as to the operation of the intercostal muscles. One expert states that the internal and external intercostals contract simultaneously and prevent the intercostal spaces from being pushed outward or drawn inward during respiration. Another classes them as inspratory.
There are twelve little-known muscles known as the levatores costarum which arise from the transverse processes of the vertebrae. They pass obliquely downward and lateralward like the external intercostals. Each one is inserted into the outer surface of the rib, just below the vertebra from which it takes its origin. It is believed that these muscles act as rotators and lateral flexors of the vertebral column.
Of the muscles we have briefly described the pectoral muscles are of chief interest to most body builders. In fact many of them don’t know that they even have the other muscles, don’t know the serratus magnus or the intercostals from the Aurora Borealis. But those familiar with body building and the well-developed masculine physique know and admire these little-known muscles. Any advanced muscle control artist can exhibit these muscles. In themselves they are not so important from the strength angle and they don’t add much to the appearance of the physique. The thin fellow has only ribs to show and can’t find them. The man who is even slightly upholstered won’t see them, but when you can detect these muscles plainly in a well-developed state, you will know that you are looking at a real man, a man who is strong inside and out, who possesses great virility and internal power, splendid digestion, good elimination, endurance and all desirable physical qualities. Not that these muscles control the functions I have just mentioned, but the man who has well-developed serratus magnus and intercostals is carrying the proof that he has performed the sort of exercises which build internal strength. While he has been developing these little-known external muscles, he has brought to a high stage of perfection the better-known external muscles and has been building the power of the internal organs.
Any man who has transformed his body from the too thin, too weak, too fat class, through weight training, knows what the acquisition of these muscles has meant to him. He knows that he feels better, that he has more pep, greater endurance, that he is starved before meals and can eat like a bear, he knows that he is never constipated, that he doesn’t have headaches or even colds, that he is never ill, that he is light on his feet, cheerful and happy. You can be sure that any man who has well-developed serratus magnus, intercostals and external obliques, which are far enough down the sides to be included in the discussion of the midsection, has done a great deal of vigorous bending, twisting, and endurance work. He has built his internal powers and improved the action of all the organs and glands. A good all-around body-building program, including heavy work and weight lifting with specializing upon the muscles this volume deals with, will bring these little-known muscles of the chest to a point where they are plainly noticeable.
As the pectorals are really a three-part muscle which spreads out fanwise from the arm and shoulder, a diversity of exercises is required to develop them fully. Designed to draw the arm downward and forward, exercises which develop the latissimus are also important in their development.
Back to our discussion of dipping. This is one of the best exercises to develop the pectorals. Plain floor dipping, unless you progress to one-arm dipping, is not intensive enough to bring the pectorals to the peak of development. When carried on into the hundreds and thousands of repetitions as some Hindu specialists have done, it is not unlike the continued action of a marathon race. It will cause the muscles to be hard, thin and stringy, rather than full and rounded as desired.
The exercise of dipping can be greatly improved by dipping with the aid of three chairs or boxes, a hand on each chair, the feet on another. It is advisable to have the feet raised higher than the hands if this is convenient. Dipping between chairs gives you a great range of movement. With the feet raised, more resistance is supplied to the arms and of course the pectorals. This movement can be made progressive by tying weights to the waist. It was considered of sufficient value that quite recently it was offered as the “Exercise of the Month” in Strength and Health magazine. Some men make the movement even more vigorous by having a child of a light training mate sit upon the shoulders. It is a real exercise when performed against such resistance.
Men who are skilled hand balancers practice this movement balanced upon two boxes with the body in the hand balance position. Or if not so adept at balancing, dip from the hand stand position with the feet against the wall. Dipping upon parallel bars is another means to develop these muscles. Here we have three distinctly different positions of dipping: feet raised overhead, feet hanging and feet at the shoulder level. These three positions will develop the pectorals in an outstanding manner. Tony Sansone has done a lot of parallel bar dipping, and Elmer Farnham who is noted for his pectoral development has specialized in all forms of dipping. He does not specialize at the present time, but his exceptionally well developed pectorals bear the mark of ample dipping at the inception of his physical training career.
Elmer excels at another form of dipping. Lying flat upon his face, with arms extended to the front, arms straight, he raises his body approximately a foot from the floor. He has done this with ninety-two pounds, and certainly it has promoted the strength and development of his pectorals.
The overhead pulleys that you have rigged up for the development of the latissimus will serve well in pectoral development. There is this difference however: Your back should be to the wall in pectoral exercises, and face to the wall in latissimus movements. Be very careful to hold the arms straight and perform the movements correctly so that the muscles involved will receive the maximum of benefit. Pulley weights, so often called chest weights, are of advantage in developing the chest muscles. They are to be found in most gymnasiums. You can construct your own if you desire, or you can be satisfied with the results which are obtained through bar bell, dumbell and cable training., which I can assure you will be worthy, if you persist in your efforts.
The best known and the best chest-developing exercise of them all is the two arm pullover. This can be practiced while lying upon the floor or a bench or two boxes. Greater range of movement can be had in this latter movement, and greater range of movement has a better effect from the development. As a breathing exercise only a moderate weight should be employed as we will explain more fully in the chapter devoted to expanding the chest.
As a muscle builder, employ the weight you can properly handle. While in the muscle-building exercise, only a quarter circle is made with the arms and the bar. From far back of head to thighs is best in this breathing exercise. Use a heavier weight in this movement and develop your muscles to the fullest extent. Keeping the arms entirely straight, continue the movement steadily; try to keep your back flat against the floor or the bench or boxes. A man who can pull over one hundred pounds is really strong and will have pectoral development to prove it.
The next best movement is somewhat similar but this time with two dumbells. It is known as the lateral raise lying. Raise the dumbells to arm’s length above the chest, knuckles out. Lower the bells, keeping arms straight throughout until they are a bit lower than level with shoulders. This movement can be varied a bit by crossing the arms after they have reached a point above the body.
In this movement you are limited by the strength of the muscles on the inside of the elbows and shoulders. So an even better chest developing exercise is a form of flying movement. If you have partaken of a dinner of squab, pheasant, quail, duck of other wild bird, you must have been impressed with the tremendous size and depth of the chest or breast muscles in relation to the size of the bird. Flying as they do for long distances, frequently at great speed, they have developed breast muscles which make up a large part of the muscular bulk of their small bodies. It is evident that some form of flying exercise will advantageously benefit the human body builder.
Two or three times as much weight can be used in this flying exercise as in the lateral raise lying. The elbows are kept bent and a movement employed similar to flying, with the dumbells touching above the center of the body and ranging out as far as they can extend from the sides with bent arms. The range of movement can be varied by moving the dumbells from a position at the side of the shoulders along the entire range of the body until opposite the abdomen. Jake Hitchin, who was one of the originators of this movement, has used 100 pounds in each hand and has been rewarded by huge, shapely, powerful breast muscles.
Another of my favorites (you’ll soon think that all are my favorites) is the two hands press with bar bell or dumbells while lying upon boxes or bench. While I enjoy many exercises, the upright rowing motion with dumbells and the press on box or bench take rank well at the head of the list with me. By alternately pressing two dumbells or pressing them simultaneously a somewhat different action is given to the pectoral muscles than in dipping. It is a splendid breathing exercise too as you’ll read later. But with the bar bell you can really handle a substantial poundage and obtain favorable results commensurate with the effort expended. Recently I performed ten movements in this style with 200 pounds. Poor leverage in the military or continental style of pressing does not seem to hinder me when pressing in this position. Some years ago I could outpress all but three or four of our champions in this position, men who could actually outpress me a hundred pounds in the military position – my 190 as compared to 300 or more of men such as Davis, Grimek and Stanko.
While lying upon boxes there are many variations of the lateral raise and the two arm pull over which serve well with dumbells. Alternate forward and lateral raise, holding the weights at arm’s length above the head and then dropping both of them first to right, then back to center, then to left. Or a twisting and turning movement such as the following: Thrust the dumbells to straight arms back of head. Holding palms up and keeping arms straight bring them down past the waist and to the thighs, permitting the arms to turn so that the knuckles are now up; cross them, bringing them forward, close to the body and back of the head to the original position. Continue this movement until tired.
Two favorably known appliances lend themselves well to chest muscle building. The first of these is the Giant Crusher Grip. It brings into action the crushing muscles of the body and as this is one of the prime purposes of the pectoral muscles and as they can’t be reached in quite the same way with any other equipment, a giant crusher grip should be included in the training equipment of every ambitious physical culturist. At one time I took a mail order course of exercises offered by one of the champion wrestlers of the day. The training equipment which came with this course was a form of crusher grip. How I enjoyed this piece of equipment and I feel that I was permanently rewarded by chest increases both in size and development. There is a fair range of movement with the Giant Crusher Grip.
The Iron Shoe, while working in exactly the opposite manner, nevertheless exerts considerable action with resulting benefit to the chest muscles.
As cables were commonly called chest expanders, and as the best cable pullers all have good pectorals it is evident that they are highly beneficial in building this important part of the anatomy. Most of the exercises offered in the chapter on building the latissimus provide almost equal benefit to the pectorals. If you do not have weights, are so situated that it is objectionable to use them, usually in hotels, boarding houses or apartments where the least noise is objectionable, you can practice all forms of lateral raises and two arm pullovers with the Home Gym cable set and attachments.
As a general thing, although I say that any exercise is better than no exercise, I do not favor resistance exercises – where one arm works against another. Through untold generations of human beings, definite, coordinated muscle involvements have been followed. The human brain has learned to direct these movements in a normal manner. But work one set of muscles against another, such as in curling with one arm as the other resists in a pressing action, and the best results are not obtained. Countless men have reported headaches and dizziness from these movements without knowing why. The fact that it is contrary to the laws of normal movement which our own ancestors’ bodies had become accustomed to, long before the dawn of recorded history, accounts for this confusion when the mind is unable to properly work in conjunction with this new type of movement and the mental bewilderment causes dizziness and even headaches.
But I have several pectoral-developing exercises to offer which are not detrimental to one’s feelings. Extend the arms in front of the body, palms together. Maintaining a vigorous pressure with the palms, raise the arms to full length overhead, keeping the arms straight throughout. Momentarily relax, then continue down with the arms until a position at the thighs is reached. Continue this movement until tired. Another similar movement is to place the hands with the palms together, fingers extended right in front of the chest. The elbows are bent. Keeping close to the body, and pressing hard with the hands and arms, raise the hands to arm’s length over the head, relax momentarily and come down to a position below the chest. And a third: The starting position is the same as that in exercise No. 2. The right hand presses hard, the left hand resists but not quite as strongly as the right presses and the left hand is pushed far to the left. Then the left pushes hard to the right and the movement is continued. Maintain a heavy and steady pressure of the hands. This will tighten the pectorals and cause them to grow in size and strength.
The famous old time strong men and man men of the present control their chest muscles frequently, causing them to move together or alternately. To learn this movement the exercise I have just offered is best. But tighten and relax the chest muscles more frequently and soon you will attain such control over them that you can move them at will in any position.
Persistence in practicing these recommended exercises and others which may suggest themselves to you will add an inch or two to the depth of your chest muscles and, in line with the former reasoning offered once before that the circumference of a circle is three and one-seventh times the diameter, an increase in diameter of one or two inches will mean an increased chest girth of three to six inches.
It is evident from these several chapters concerning the development of the muscles of the chest that practice of the exercises offered will give you a chest that stretches the tape to many more inches, but the real way to a bigger chest is to build the rib box, deepen it form front to rear in particular, and that phase of physical improvement will be our discussion in the next chapter.