T Nation

Rib-Cage Expansion

I’m confused by all the contradictory information online about exercises that expand the rib cage. I’ve read about bodybuilders who swear by straight-arm pullovers, physiotherapists who say its physiologically impossible to do so, and even dangerous to try, and anecdotal evidence, particularly from early twentieth century texts about physical development, that claim up to 8 inches increase in the size of the rib-cage through daily exercises and deep breathing…

There MUST be some scientific evidence somewhere that researches this subject!

If pullovers or some such stretching exercise does work, and it is possible to increase the size of the upper body skeletally, then you would think everybody would be doing it. Is it just one of those bodybuilding myths that should be exterminated?

I got an idea…

why dont you try it and see for yourself?

CMC might have something to say about this…

I think that we should all just agree that pullovers are an incredible exercise of which people should be doing a lot more.

I couldn’t tell you.
I incorporate that exersice into my workouts and I like it.
Or you could go with my buddy’s motto, “If Arnold says good, then GOOD!”

When my shoulders are fixed I’m adding them to my routine. I think their a great exercise. As for expanding the ribcage? I for one don’t have the expertise to be certain. But measuring your rib cage seems like a hard task. How do you figure out exactly how much has grown when you have to worry about growth in your lats and serratus muscles etc??? I’m thinking if you look bigger etc. then who cares where the grow is coming from no? I mean it’s nice to know and everything but this debate has been going on forever. Sorry for not helping at all. Ciao. :slight_smile:

I use a Nautilus pullover machine and I really like the way it works. Gives my lats and even my abs a good workout.

As far as my personal experience goes, pullovers didn’t expand my sternum. Brider mentioned my name because I was born with a concave chest. There was a severe depression that had to be surgically repaired a month ago. No amount of pullovers would’ve helped me.

Whatever happened to Drax …
Certainly would have something to say here

i was a big arnold fan (still am) when i was a teenager…obviously he was a big advocate of pullovers… i did pullovers all the time… they seemed to help i think, or i just had developed a good rib cage over time naturally, i’ll never know.

I’ve wondered about this too, brick. Here’s what a quick scout of the net brought up.

If anybody out there has Paul Kelso’s book on shrugs, that has a chapter on the rib-cage that may shed light on this. I don’t have it, so I can’t say.

On T-mag (hooray) Charles Poliquin writes in Issue 38: “I’m not really keen on the crossbench pullover, as I’ve actually seen a few cases of herniated abs that were directly attributed to it. I’d rather have you do decline pullovers using an EZ bar, as they allow your shoulders to pivot more naturally.”

Also on T-mag, Don Alessi writes: “Contrary to bodybuilding lore, this exercise doesn’t expand the rib cage. Instead, this exercise is a lost favorite for back development.”

New York City Dawg, from issue 64, reviews Flex magazine and says: “There’s mention in one training article of the dumbbell pullover. Does it increase the size of the rib cage? Only if you haven’t completed your bone growth. Nevertheless, the pullover is an often-overlooked exercise. It’s great for developing the upper lats, lower pecs, and triceps, in addition to “lung power.””

I looked over some of the things on naturalstrength too. I wouldn’t call their claims scientific, and most of their training advice form the early years is pretty poor by modern standards, so I’d discount that as evidence myself, but I don’t think they were lying, just not understanding what exercise caused what. As for their “deep breathing” exercises, I find that hard to believe. If you’re exercising hard and heavy, you’ll have to breathe deeply anyway. It certainly taxes the lungs, and improves breathing power, vo2max and so on. But ribcage size? Doubtful. What they were right about is that improving lung conditioning benefits performance, strength, and the capacity for hard work with weights.

The idea of the pullover was popularised in the 20-rep “breathing squat” classic, where a superset of light pullovers holding the breath was performed too. The increase in the size of the rib-cage came from a very hard set of squats, not the pullovers. Holding the breath while trying to recover from such a hard exercise is probably not wise.

Does anybody know about those breathing resistance things popularised in the last few years? You put the thing in your mouth and breathe for say 10 minutes, and apparently it improves lung function. I’ve only seen them advertised, and i’m sceptical…