A man has firm and bulging chest muscles. His pectoralis major muscles are the symbol of strength and health. He lifts weights. He has very little flab—he doesn't jiggle. His muscular body is the object of envy and admiration.
Tip: Bulging chest muscles are important for many young men. These have been called "chesticles."
For many years I have done strength exercises. The first strength exercise I started doing was pushups. With pushups you can build your chest and arms. But for me pushups mainly developed my arms.
My chest and pectorals were not activated with the pushup form I was using. To build your chest with pushups, you need to have excellent posture and go all the way down. You should feel the soreness in your chest muscles.
Caution: It is possible, and common, to do pushups mainly using your arms. Try moving your arms to be more to your sides.
The mistake I made was thinking that pushups would build my chest. Instead pushups just built my arms. My advice to new trainees is to make sure your form is good and that your chest is being activated.
Tip: It is probably easier to just do other exercises, such as dips, bench press or dumbbell presses.
And: Those exercises are easy to correctly perform. They are more likely to build your chest strength.
The bench press is an excellent way to develop your upper body in general. After several months of bench pressing, your upper body and pecs will be noticeably developed, provided you have some nutritional discipline.
The barbell bench press is generally thought to help develop muscular bulk more. But trainers often recommend the dumbbell chest press, as it requires stabilization. This activates extra muscles in the upper body.Barbell, Dumbbell
Note: For home workouts, the bench press is not ideal. I recommend parallel bar dips if you work out at home by yourself.
Also: If you work out at a gym, the bench press is more appropriate. Many men have built large chests with bench presses.
However, men who focus solely on the bench press and the biceps curl tend to have very imbalanced physiques. But their bodies are not effective in sports—or anything other than appearances on the beach in swim trunks or Speedos.
Tip: Work out parts of your body that you are not overly focused on, such as your back, legs and butt. This is your posterior chain.Strong Legs
My favorite chest exercise is the parallel bar dip. Some men prefer dips to bench presses—I am one of them. Dips have done more for the size and strength of my chest than any other exercise, excluding the barbell squat.
With dips, you must support your entire body weight against gravity. And you can do weighted dips with a dip belt. After several months of dips, mixed with a decent diet, your chest muscles will be larger and stronger-appearing.Dips
Results: You will not look like a professional bodybuilder. But you will have a muscular upper body physique.
Boys who try lifting weights first do this exercise. Curls are an isolation exercise—they work the biceps brachii. They do not do much for the chest muscles. With heavier and complex exercises, such as the squat, results are better.
Tip: I don't recommend curls for anything except getting larger biceps as part of a more complete workout routine.Curls
The squat is a sitting and standing motion with a heavy weight on your back. It is commonly called a leg exercise. This is not true. The squat works nearly the entire muscular bulk on your body. It is a full-body exercise.
Tip: Among bodybuilders, the squat is often considered the most important exercise. It promotes full-body muscle synthesis.
After squatting, you eat a lot of food and protein—you become larger. Growth hormone and testosterone raises. And this is the easiest way to get a large and strong chest. Doing squats will make your pectorals larger and stronger.
Also: Squats will improve the appearance of your upper body and your abs as well. They also will make your butt larger and stronger.Squats
Muscle growth requires weight gain. Some of the strongest, most muscular men have periods where they appear overweight. Bodybuilders in the off-season look heavy. They gain weight and bulk up to make their muscles larger.
Then: When they compete, they reduce their fat stores to enhance their visual appearance.
Opinion: Men with less-developed muscles need to gain weight. This could come after a period of fat loss if the man has excess fat.
For many men, the pectoral muscles become apparent only after a period of several months of weight gain. In this period, strength training exercises such as bench presses, dips, squats and others are done.
Don't become discouraged if in your training you pick up some body fat. If you remain disciplined, you can lose this later. But don't let your fat mass get out of control. Health is most important.
This is an important part of improving the shape of your chest muscles. Some men tend to easily gain weight and muscle. For them, body fat is often too high for good muscle definition.
If the lower line of your pectorals is blurry and not defined, you are probably carrying too much body fat. A general weight-loss diet for a few weeks or months will help improve your muscle definition.
Many men have large chest muscles but they are lost under chest fat. This is fine during the winter, assuming it does not get out of control. These men lose the visual effect of pectoral muscles because of their excess adipose tissue.
Generally: Once your abs start to show, your pectorals should have enough definition. Abdominals show at different levels of body fat.
Tip: If your abs are not visible, your chest probably looks blurry and less impressive than it should.Six-Pack Abs
There is a lot of interest among bodybuilders about the shape of the pectoralis major muscles. Some men have broader chests. Others have more rounded chests. Still others have chests that are higher or lower.
Bodybuilding myths prevail about ways to reshape your chest. I do not think this is possible. To some extent, working your chest muscles in many ways will help your muscles be larger and stronger.
You cannot fix or improve your genetics.
My chest is broad and lower.
This is probably just my genetic makeup.
It is probably not worthwhile trying to reshape your chest by doing different exercises. Incline barbell presses may help. But increasing the overall level of muscle mass on your body, as through squats, is probably easier.
And: We have to accept our genetics, such as our height and frame size—even our skin color. Our bodies are all different.
Pectoral implants in men have recently become more popular. This is a medical decision. It is sometimes recommended by doctors. But a muscle-building workout should be considered first to build pectoral muscles.
This will benefit your health much more than implants. If your pectoralis major muscles do not develop well, implants may be worthwhile. For most men, implants are not necessary. And they won't make your chest look muscular.
In certain medical conditions, such as Poland's syndrome, pectoral implants may be useful. Also, some men have genetics that do not allow much muscle growth. For these men, implants may be considered.
However: For those of us who gain muscle easily, implants are not a consideration. They are expensive and not healthy.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic forms of testosterone, a sex steroid. These will promote muscle synthesis on men and women. Steroids will give you large and strong-looking pectoral muscles.
But in the book Starting Strength, we learn that drinking a gallon of milk a day is more effective for muscle growth on beginners than even steroids are. For more advanced lifters, steroids will promote greater changes.
Tip: Please consider a high-calorie, high-protein diet, along with heavy barbell squats, before using anabolic steroids.
But: For men with low T, anabolic steroids are considered testosterone replacement therapy. In this case they are medically advised.
Among bodybuilders diet is considered key to building muscle tissue. Your body cannot synthesis larger muscles without some materials to build them from. Food is thus critical for getting strong-looking pecs.
I recommend eggs and milk on a daily basis for the lifter trying to gain significant muscular bulk. You will not get fat if you lift weights and eat a lot of eggs and milk. In fact you may lose fat mass as you gain muscle weight.Eggs: Muscles Milk: Muscles
Creatine monohydrate. Another recommendation I have for getting a larger and stronger chest is using creatine monohydrate. This supplement will cause more water to be drawn into your muscles. This promotes muscle tissue synthesis.
Tip: Creatine should be used in coordination with a high-calorie diet, and a lifting routine.Creatine: Bulking
Bodybuilding lore speaks of rib cage expansion. This is where doing certain exercises with dumbbells is thought to make your rib cage bigger. These exercises involve moving a dumbbell behind your head as you lay down.
Some critics argue that rib cage expansion is not possible. This is not true. I do not know if lifting weights in a certain way could expand the rib cage, but medically certain conditions lead to an expanded rib cage.
For example, asthma and other breathing disorders lead to a condition called barrel chest. The lungs, hyperinflated, permanently expand the size of the chest. Therefore the rib cage can change size.
Only three variables predicted the decline in lung function: having a barrel-shaped chest, experiencing wheezing, and an unusual diurnal peak-flow rate index.Asthma and chronic bronchitis
Lifters with chronic and severe breathing problems may end up with larger chests—but not stronger chests—than others. Childhood asthma may make your chest larger. This is a form of rib cage expansion—but not a recommended one.
However: As for whether dumbbell exercises can provoke this change, I am very doubtful.
Gynecomastia is common. It refers to the enlargement of the breast tissue in men. This is not the same thing as large and strong pectoral muscles. With gynecomastia, the nipples are often more pointed and puffier.
Gynecomastia... is a common condition, present in 30 to 50% of men. The disease, caused by hormonal imbalance at the breast tissue level, may occur both physiologically at some stages of life or be secondary to various disorders.Gynecomastia
This condition is not always a medical problem. It affects young men or boys going through puberty. It often goes away on its own. But sometimes its appearance can be more problematic.
It is different from simply being overweight—even thin and lean men can have gynecomastia. It involves the "glandular component" of the male breast. It does not impact the pectoralis major muscle strength or internal shape.
Overweight or gynecomastia? If you are unhappy with the shape of your chest muscles, this could be due to either of these conditions.
And: It is important not to be too quick to assume you have gynecomastia. Other problems may be present.
Being overweight—having excessive chest fat—will negatively impact the shape of your upper torso. It may seem very similar to gynecomastia. It is also possible have gynecomastia and also excessive fat tissue.
Tip: Engaging in a weight-loss and strength training program is helpful if you are unhappy with the shape of your chest.
So: Over time, this may resolve as you get in better shape. But if you lose fat and have true gynecomastia, medical treatment helps.
Life is not fair. Some of us are born with abnormalities—one such abnormality is called Poland's syndrome. This syndrome involves deformities to the pectoralis major muscles. Poland's syndrome affects both men and women.
It often leads to asymmetries in the pectoralis muscles and breasts on women. This can be helped with implants in men and women. In men, fat grafting can help even out the chest muscles. Strength training also helps.
The most common operation performed in women was breast reconstruction with silicone [implants]. Two men had their [chests] symmetrized by fat grafting.Surgical treatment of patients with Poland's syndrome
These tactics make the chest larger, firmer and stronger. Exercises such as dips, bench presses, pushups with correct form and squats are useful. Animal protein is beneficial. Weight gain promotes this muscular feature.