Let's face it, we (or at least the guys reading this) all like the look a large, powerful and brawny "barrel chest" gives a man. Most guys rate the chest as the favorite part of their body to develop, and that's not entirely a bad thing, as the pectorals are one of the larger muscles in the upper body, and working large muscle groups in conjunction is always a good thing.
But it's not good when folks start to ignore other body parts in favor of purely training the chest, which is actually more common than you'd think -
- and neither is it good that most folks don't have a clue as to what the REAL secret is to developing a broad, powerful chest.
Now, I can already sense the regular readers on this list saying "Ok, I know the hidden key he's talking about. He's said it so many times before!
Work an opposing body part, in this case, the back, and your chest will grow as well. Bah. Humbug."
And they'd be right - - I DO mention that a lot of times, and with darn good reason, but I'm not going to go over that particular reason in that email.
No, there's a far more important hidden key here - - something which most people are either unaware of, or prefer to ignore (usually the former).
What's that, you ask.
Well, let me backtrack a bit before answering. Several years ago, I climbed my favorite hill for the first time - and the experience left me feeling as if a truck had run over me. I never thought the seemingly simple task of walking uphill could tax the entire body, but boy was I wrong.
A few months later, I was climbing this hill on a daily basis, and had dropped almost four waist sizes. My pants were "hanging" off me, my resting pulse dropped to about 65 or so, and my legs had become like pillars of rock - - all benefits that might be expected from this sort of exercise, but what I also noticed that I was growing out of my shirts - - and this without doing a single pushup, or any sort of exercise for my chest. I did do pull-ups after my hill climb, but not regularly - - my main exercise at the time was the daily hill climb.
Fast forward a few years, and I was doing all sorts of pushups and pull-ups on a daily basis - - including sets of the super tough handstand pushup -
- something which most people can't even do a single rep of - - but though I packed on a lot of mass on to my upper body from these exercises, nothing really "stretched the tape measure" quite so drastically as my hill climbs had.
Back then, I was wearing medium size shirts, and I rocketed straight up to XL size a few months later. Fast forward a few years, and my size increased to a XXL, but not really a lot after that.
Now, keep in mind that was a few months - - and this was a few YEARS of training.
And now, let's forward again to right NOW. As in, February 2014 - - I'm back to climbing my hill again after a bit of a break the past few weeks, and I'm already noticing my shirts starting to get tight around my shoulders yet again - - and this without really doing a lot of upper body work on a regular basis.
What gives, you ask.
Well - put simply - and hard as it might sound to believe, it's the deep breathing that my hill climb induces that is working my upper back and chest muscles along with my entire body. Ever felt REALLY, REALLY out of breath? Like so out of breath you could barely open your mouth long enough to gulp in air, your heart pounding inside your chest like a sledgehammer?
That is what a tough, non-stop hill climb will do to you - - and let me tell you, this deep breathing works the HECK out of your entire upper body as well, including your abdominals and back. In fact, my stomach muscles are often sore after a tough climb as opposed to my legs -- that's how much this deep breathing works my entire upper body.
The old timers wouldn't find this surprising - - in fact, a lot of the old timers recommended exercises that induced heavy, labored breathing for a sustained period of time followed by chest specific exercises to really achieve maximal growth. John Maccullum, Peary Rader, you name them, and these guys knew about how important deep breathing was to overall chest development.
And how does deep breathing actually develop the chest, you might ask?
Well, long story, and one I can't really explain in an email, but the gist of it is that deep breathing done correctly forces the "inner" chest fibers and muscles to grow, thereby giving you a larger and more spacious rib box in which the lungs can expand more comfortably, thereby taking in more air with each breath. It also works the outer chest and back muscles to a degree - - not to mention the entire core - - done correctly, you are forced to breathe in air the right way i.e. through your abdomen instead of your chest.
You can call it developing the chest from the "inside out"; but whatever you call it, it works far, far better than simply trying to overload your chest muscles with heavy presses and the such. Although those are good, deep breathing is the real deal - - deep breathing is what lays the foundation for tremendous gains down the road. Remove the foundation, and you might as well not have the building - - it is that simple.
And of course, the way you get to a state of deep breathing so profound it literally reshapes your physique from the inside out is by doing exercises that cause you to gasp for air - - namely, leg exercises - - or even more more specifically, exercises that work the thighs, hips and core to the max
- - in other words, those exercises that tax the largest muscle groups in your body.
Show me a guy who squats regularly, or climbs hill regularly, or even jumps rope at a high level, and I'll show you someone with a well developed chest.
Other hand, show me someone who just works the chest without really working the leg muscles, and I'll show you someone who might have the "look" but not the actual strength and power (as well as size) that comes with REAL chest development.
And though all this might sound confusing, it's really not. Here's how you know what this is about - - find an exercise - - any exercise that makes you breathe deeply, and heavily for a sustained period of time (and I mean REAL deep breathing) - - and work that exercise into the ground for a couple of months. You may do upper body work at the end of your routine, but make it supplementary work - - not the main course.
After two months, measure your chest - - and if you've been doing this right, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
And that, my friend, is the tip of the day - - work the chest from the INSIDE OUT for a truly large, and powerful chest!
Implement this little gem into your training routine, and let me know how you do.
P.S: - Leg exercises are the ones that cause all the puffing and panting, literally forcing your body to grow - - but you gotta do the right ones - - and Fast and Furious Fitness is the best resource for those interested in this type of thing: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book