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Pullovers and Rib Cage Expansion


I read a while ago that pullovers did nothing for this (who knows from what keyboard warrior). Then I read Pavel's writing and he said screw them, it works. Anyone have experience with pullovers and getting a larger rib cage?


How would this happen physiologically?

That's like saying chinups will make you taller.


don't ask me

but chinups decompress your spine


Does a person's rib cage actually get bigger?

This seems quite unlikely.

Can different and better posture result in APPEARANCE of bigger rib cage? Absolutely. Can pullovers do this? I expect yes where there's room for such improvement in posture. (If already excellent then no.)

Can development of the pec minor make the chest look bigger? I would think so.


I'm sorry, but I sure as hell hope Pavel isn't claiming an education that actually focuses on this aspect of human biology. If doing an exercise can warp cartilage and bone to that degree...we are all FUCKED.

Blame better posture (as is seen with many bodybuilders) and larger muscle groups.

Also, this used to have more believers back in the 60's and before when bodybuilders actually used to work on sticking their chests out as far as possible...a look that no one goes for anymore because they had begun worrying more about how much they could inhale rather than how much muscle was actually around the chest cavity.

Bodybuilders today are carrying far more overall muscle yet don't feel the need to act like they are about to inflate a balloon the size of the Titanic in a side chest pose.

I would rather a bigger chest, lats and serratus instead of falsely trying to inflate myself.


That said, a larger rib-cage (and sternum) is definitely an asset for a BBer. I think younger lifters would greatly benefit from doing pullovers, but I doubt that you can enlarge the ribcage over a certain age.......


I think early training can be very beneficial, but even making a blanket statement about being able to morph the physical structures of a teen or pre-teen in this way may also be a mistake. It lends credence to those spreading the falsehood that lifting weights stunts growth in height. You can't claim exercises cause major changes in cartilage and bone and then claim this doesn't affect anything else but the ribcage for some reason.


All this said, I wish I hadn't dropped them out of the rotation some time back. If I hadn't, my left lat, pec minor, probably subscapularis, and perhaps other things wouldn't be so tight as they are now, as doing pullovers regularly would likely have maintained my range of motion. Which now is pathetic and I have a big job ahead of me getting it back.

On the posture issue, one of the authors here in one of his articles has before and afters of one of his clients that underwent his posture correction methods. You would certainly think that the ribcage had been expanded. But it isn't: it's the difference having proper thoracic spine and scapular posture, and not.

(Why did I drop them out? Because as the problem was developing, they began seeming to aggravate my shoulder as they were painful to do. What I did not realize -- stupidly -- was that the true aggravating factor was the excessive tightness.)


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Great discussion here. When I read pavel, i noticed he enjoyed leaving out a lot of details (Beyond Bodybuilding) and just says "why do this? just try it and you'll see." This ribcage business is probably one of them.


Unfortnately there are a lot of myths associated with pullovers, and because of these myths people completely dismisss the excersize because...

A. Since it doesnt expand my rib cage, it must be good for nothing
B. I cant really stack weight and make myself feel powerful with it
C. Its a bitch/ annoying movement to do

That said... I love pullovers, lucky for me I had someone who always told me to keep them in my training when I was young. I dont do them as often now and I kinda regret that, I've since lost some ROM and the looks of the chest and lats is just different without it. I strongly recommend all young guys to use it, even more experienced vets too, its truly a movement of form tho, its a truly unique feeling.

Prof X is competely right about it being popular in the 60s, and IMO their side chest posing is far better than todays. I really think thats the one pose few professionals actually hit well. Whether thats because of pullovers or not who knows


I also remember reading that pullovers would expand the ribcage. Whether or not it's true (and I personally don't think so), I've gotten back into doing pullovers over the past 2 years.

I've gotten turned on to lots of pullover variations, too. Such as stiff arm vs bent arm, using an EZ-curl bar instead of a dumbell, or a real favorite lately (thanks to Thib), decline cable pullovers.

One thing that pullovers certainly helped the golden-agers with was the classic vacuum pose. Whatever happened to this pose? Watching Frank Zane do it is incredible... and if any of you competitive guys have ever tried it, you know how extremely difficult it is!


I'd like to propose an idea here: I think it's an unproven myth that pull-overs work the serratus anterior muscle. I think people get confused by tension in the pec major, pec minor, intercostals, teres major and lats. There's so much in the arm pit area that it is assumed the SA is working, when in reality, it is not, because none of its actions (preventing winging, protraction/abduction, upward rotation) are being performed in a pullover. The direction of the fibers would be antagonistic to a pullover, not agonistic.

I'm wondering if people are open to this idea and would discuss it?


It won't work.


^^He's back!!!!


Ellington Darden writes that pullovers can increase the growth of the rib cage if the training occurs during adolescence when the cartilage is still growing.


Dante thinks it's possible, if you do "breathing squats" and pullovers with your chest filled with air. And you do it while you're young.

My ribcage definitely looks bigger than before I started lifting. And the vital capacity of my lungs went from 4.7 to 7.2 liters, although a lot of that comes from stronger inspiratory muscles. Of course a lot of that comes from just growing up, but I'm not sure the rest is just posture.

"if you have ever seen a football player coming out of high school who trained and turned himself into a 300lb offensive lineman in college, then take his bodyweight back down after his playing days are over---his frame does not go back down to that previous high school frame--no way in hell"


So if I pull on my ears as a kid they will become longer?


If you pulled your ears out hard, for 5 minutes a day every day, ever since you were a child... um yeah I would think they would probably stick out a bit.

The human body IS a highly pliable organism, and will adapt under pressure. As far as stretching out the rib cage though? It doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense physiologically.

If the whole point is to breathe so deeply that you're stretching out your ribs, what is the point of the dumbbell? Yes I do think it is a valuable exercise, and have used it personally, but I never understood how flexing your chest and lats while breathing made this any more effective at supposedly widening the rib cage.

If it actually worked I would expect to see olympic level swimmers with huge rib cages... however, they look pretty normal.


Right on.

Mike Reinold has written lots about pec minor shortening for one, contributing to 'shitty posture' (scientific term i know).

Saying that pullovers affect anything like cartilage is akin to saying (using scientology as an example) that undergoing therapy etc isn't 'improving your attitude and wellbeing', you are 'collecting orgones or whatever'.

It's a quasi-scientific analysis of what seems to be a real phenommenon.