T Nation

Big Back, Big Shoulders, Small Chest?


Could this be the reason that my chest is far inferior?

I have a very strong thick wide back..and my shoulders are very developed too...

i'm thinking i'm using good form during my chest workouts
-back flat, feet firmly on the ground, no arching... bringing the weight and bar close to my chest (inch away) and not locking my arms out

my chest workout on most days would be something like

incline barbell
5 sets, 10-10-8-8-failure

flat dumbell
4 sets 10-10-8-failure

hammer strength wide chest press
4 sets 10-10-8-failure

incline/flat dumbell flyes
4 sets 10-10-10-failure

lying overhead dumbell extension
3 sets 10-10-10

typically my last set of incline is 215 for 6
dumbels: 90's for 8
however my flyes are very strong compared to my bench 70's for 8

could i be using my stronger back/shoulders to cheat without knowing it? my triceps also seem overly developed...

also, my older brother, a lot bigger, does not have a body builder's chest, but can still rep 405, 6 times..

could this be genetics? or possibly from form?

i am baffled by this..


I think you look reasonably well proportioned. You just need to get bigger, if that's your thing.


Yes, it seems to me that your perception that your chest is not in proportion to shoulders and back, is off. There seems a reasonable and most-certainly normal balance between chest and shoulders, and -- though of course back can't be judged very well from that shot -- I wouldn't guess that the back is far ahead of the chest.


see i dunno if my arms and shoulders are oversized in relation to my body or is my chest just underdevloped?

i have no upper chest mass, yet i feel i can move a decent amount of weight compared to other guys my height and weight


Overly developed? I didn't see anything in that pic that was "overly" developed. Yes, you could be using your shoulders more during pressing movements, but more than anything is the fact that you simply need more overall size on you before you start nitpicking areas like that. I don't see any glaring deficiencies other than that you need to fill out more.


First off I dont think your shoulders and back are out of proportion with your chest. Dave is right if you want to get bigger they could all afford some more size. With that being said if you are looking to hit your chest more try some pre exhaust techniques. Hit flat flyes or incline flyes before you press. Get your body to feel the mind muscle connection in your chest and then hit your presses.


Are you even reading these responses?




yea i haha. though i may appear otherwise...

what i meant by overly developed is that sometimes i feel like my back and shoulders are doing the work even if i try focusing on my chest all the way through my ROM

i've never tried pre-exhausting with flyes before, i read another user post that and i was expecting him to get flamed...he never did, now thats 2 people who have said it.... is this a common thing? i've read everything i can over the past 8-9 years i've been working out and never have heard that.

i guess i need to get out more


(Unnecessary post given your most recent reply. I had taken your describing your arms and shoulders as "overly developed" according to the ordinary meaning of the words, but now you have made clear what you meant.)


yea i just recently started my first cycle, i've been lifting hard for 8-9 years, longest break was 7 months while i was in the military, i'm 24, 5'7" 185...clean diet, 250 + grams protein a day... 4000 + carbs...

maybe i'll be able to tap into some bigger slabs of muscle

appreciate the input, dont usually post do to idiotic fear of seeming like a troll


Your chest looks pretty much on par with everything else. Just keep adding size.

And yes it's a common thing.


yes, overly developed, as in, let off the back/shoulders and let the chest catch up...if i felt i was "overly developed" muscle wise... then i would be a tool, and have no right posting in this forum, let alone website


Um, no, I was then, in the follow-up taking your meaning of "overly developed" according to your statement of:

"what i meant by overly developed is that sometimes i feel like my back and shoulders are doing the work even if i try focusing on my chest all the way through my ROM"

Since I'm not there for your training and you are, and not even seen a video or anything, I wouldn't remotely presume you incorrect that you feel like your shoulders are doing the work in the bench press. That might be.

However, as for an idea that you should let off training back and shoulders, by no means.

Yes, learning how to target exercises so they really are doing what you want, really are working towards achieving your goal, is very important and I think you are wise to recognize that they may be a problem area for you with chest. But that doesn't mean arm, shoulder, or back training need to be compromised for the chest to come up.

The only time that might be the case would be if really excessive training effort was being put into back, shoulders, and arms presently, leaving very little time and effort available for chest. In a case like that, it wouldn't be a matter of leaving off back, shoulder, and arm work, but just getting them to a more reasonable proportion (if they were getting too much of a lion's share in the first place. Which I doubt is the case here actually, there is no sign of it and it's hard to find those that train back too much compared to chest, but it could happen with another person.)


I don't think you are at a point where you should be letting off anything. Keep training everything and train hard.

Many have said that what you need to add is overall mass but you do not seem to be reading those posts.


I think your shoulders and tri's are dominating your chest exercises. Try using less weight and really focus on your chest. Also prioritize incline bench and dips (leaning forward)...

Maybe try pre-exhausting your shoulders and tri's as a last resort..

I had a similar issue...


You are right about shoulders dominating his bench but if he wants to focus on his chest he needs to pre exhaust his chest. If you exhaust your shoulders and tris you wont be able to use nearly enough weight to stimulate your chest.


your chest is proportional to the rest of your body


You're not really out of proportion dude. Maybe start doing more incline work, to bring up the upper chest area, though a little more mass all around would probably give you the look you're going for.

Stupid question...do you touch the bar to your chest on BP?


Totally agree with this. Pre-exhaust should be for the muscle you are trying to target, not the dominant muscle (shoulders, tri's). Therefore try some isolation movements for your chest (flyes, pec deck, etc) and then try benching, dips, etc.

I also agree with prioritizing incline over flat bench. As someone who is arms/shoulder dominant it made a big difference in my chest development. Good luck.