T Nation

Gaining Muscle In Upper Torso


I'm sure no one remembers me, but I was the 14 year old kid with a high metabolism who desperately wanted to gain weight and muscle. Well the good news is, I read alot of things on this website and instead of 97 lbs I keep my weight balanced between 103 lbs and 107 lbs depending how much fluid I intake.

Muscles on my arms, legs, and back have taken shape pretty well so far, although they are not as large or cut as I want them to be.

However, I can't seem to add any muscle or meat on top of my ribs.

I want to lose these "tits", turn them into more solid and eye-worthy pecs, and gain muscles on my ribs because my stomach muscles do not look well with my ribs showing through.

What works outs will eventually give me muscle on my upper torso?


eat more, and correctly and that will do what you want. as for your "tits" simply eat correctly and follow one of the workout plans that they have on this website, i suggest OVT program.


I agree with this advice as well. You've made some progress and I applaud you for that, but caution you not to make the mistake of stopping now. Keep in mind that building muscle is a long term (as in years) process.

The good news is that you are still very young. So, you are potentially ahead of the game in that department. If you do everything right you could put on some serious muscle by the time you graduate from high school. I'm sure there are some here who wouldn't mind being in your shoes again.

I'm not going to really suggest a program to you, because while I do have my personal preferences, the last thing you need at this point is a bunch of conflicting advice.

What I will do is tell you that whatever program you choose to follow make sure that you're

A) Progressively overloading your muscles (using more weight or doing more reps with the same weight each and every time you do the same exercise)

B) Eating a clean and yet calorically sufficient diet. If you want to build muscle, then you must eat more calories than you burn. If you keep your diet clean and follow the advice of authors like Berardi in terms of macronutrient combinations, then this will help to make sure that the vast majority of what you are gaining is muscle and not fat.

C) Getting enough sleep and giving your muscles enough recovery time between workouts to allow them to recover and grow/get stronger.

Good luck and good training,



I take criticism well; any conflicting advice will either help me or not apply to me. So please don't worry about discouraging me.
I definately do not eat right.

I eat meat on a daily basis but not any type of plan or specific amount. Everyday I'd say the most I have eaten is a ham and mayonaise sandwich. The rest, such as school food, isn't much or sufficient, or healthy for that matter.
I tried to up the max weight I can benchpress today, and I was able to do 3 before my arms gave out completely... so should I change my sets from 4x5 to 3x6 to maximize the weight I lift and get more productive workouts?

I really need chest muscle, but the only workout I know that I have ever felt an impact on my chest is using dumbbells that were intended to work out parts of my arm.


It's not that I'm worried about discouraging you, more that I don't want to fill your head with numerous conflicting, yet logical and effective viewpoints. There is such a thing as too much information if you ask me (especially at certain points in the game).

You've pretty much just answered your questions right there with your comments about your diet. Do not, I repeat do not underestimate the importance of diet in this game.

My honest suggestion would be to read Berardi's "Massive eating reloaded" articles:


Follow the seven habits listed in this article for a solid two weeks (with a 90% compliance rate) and then re-evaluate. Have you gained weight? If yes, then continue. If no, then follow the steps that Berardi lists to slowly but surely increase your caloric intake.

One other really important piece of advice that I'm going to suggest is to get a lined notebook and make a food (or diet) journal. Write down each meal that you intend to eat and put a mark (for instance an "X") if you eat the meal, and a different mark (for instance an "O") if you don't eat the meal or if you eat a meal but one that doesn't apply to the "7 Habits".

At the end of the two weeks count up your "X"'s and "O"'s and figure out how well you've actually followed the plan. If you've got a 90% compliance or greater, than you are doing well and should continue with the process. If you are below 90%, then don't make adjustments to the plan itself, just try to follow it better.

I will say though that eating a "cheat meal" (one that doesn't comply to the 7 habits) is better than not eating anything.

As far as actual set/rep schemes, changing from 4x5 to 3x6 (and I'm assuming that you've unknowingly reversed set/rep schemes to rep/set schemes) isn't going to make a big difference. But, I would suggest using a rep range instead of an exact rep. So for instance you could do sets of 3-6 reps. If you can't even get to the bottom of the rep range, it's too much weight, If you go beyond the rep range, then next time increase the weight.

Could you possibly post what it is that you're currently doing for a routine? That might give us looking to give you some helpful advice a better idea of where you might need some help.

Hope this helps.

Good training,



Consider also that sometimes muscles take a long time to change shape. Sometimes you just have to keep on trucking.

Just something to consider, it may or not be your case, and in any event never stop double checking and questioning what you are currently doing. Just don't be too random with your training (meaning you are doing workout X, you see author promoting workout Y and you immediately jumps on the bandwagon) understand the concepts behind, add time, and you'll be fine.


Incline and flat dumbbell presses are two of the best chest builders available, I'd be sure include them in your routine.

You also need to vastly improve your diet, but it sounds like you already know that. I agree with Sentoguy, Berardi's article is a great place to start.


I really don't have the resources to have a healthy diet.
The only thing I can gurantee I could eat every day is ham and mayo sandwiches, eggs, and fried shredded hash browns. That's about all we stay stocked up on here :confused:


And by the way, I based my workouts on the skinny guy article (www.bodybuilding.com/fun/vinced3.htm), so I tend to try and push my limits with weights where I can do the workouts correctly and with maximum results/weight.


Those diet limitations are not optimal, but with smart consistent training you should be able to progress, just be sure to eat enough. Also, you have youth on your side-keep at it!


have your mommy stock up on chicken thighs and vegatable oil. those are a cheap tasty easy to prepare alternative to ham samwiches. just fry up the thighs and put some oil on them for extra calories. you can also dip them in salad dressing. also hamburger is relatively inexpensive and also good so you can start putting that down like a fucking tornado in jersey.


Right, it's not ideal, but eating enough of a suboptimal diet would be better than not eating enough of a suboptimal diet. Without enough fuel, no matter how hard you train, your body just isn't going to have the energy to sufficiently recover and build your muscles larger/stronger.


Good advice. There are plenty of food that is relatively inexpensive and fairly nutritious (or at least Bodybuilder friendly).


Just remember, milk is your friend.


and peanut butter.