The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

It’s no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
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    Can you expand your rib cage?

    Ok...this is gonna sound strange...

    I heard a while back that you can expand your rib cage by doing certain exercises...for example, DB Pullovers...or even breathing exercises. For example, my friend and I are the same height. Of course, he is heavier and thicker (fat around him) and I am more lean and narrower. I would prefer a thicker look. He spent years training with a trumpet, which he credits to his chest expanding. I suppose when guys measure themselves...the fairness level goes out the door when it comes to bone expansion...I may have more muscle, but his bone structure makes it appear that he has a bigger chest than I do.

    So, would a certain breathing exercise expand my rib cage? or a certain weight exercise? I hate being 5'7 and narrow..and on top of that, I'm a hardgainer! UGH. Please help...your advice is very much appreciated.
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  3. #2
    Magically delicious Shane's Avatar
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    Sorry, but it's doubtful. I think if exercise or breathing exercises did have the ability to expand your ribcage it would be a) only when you were still growing and b) a negligible increase in size.
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  4. #3
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    :withstupi

    You can make your back bigger so that it looks like you've expanded your rib cage. Bigger lats = bigger look. But generally, you're not going to expand the bone. There are techniques that vertically challenged individuals have done to stretch the bone to get taller but its extremely painful and time consuming. Just doing db pullovers or something won't do anything like that.
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  5. #4
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    If you're 5'7 it won't take much to get that "thick" look anyways. Just keep lifting hard and eating.

  6. #5
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    Dumbell Pullovers will expand your ribcage and develop your serratus muscles. This is the very exercise that let Frank Zane dwarf much larger bodybuilders with his "behind the neck" pose...
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Hey skinny, I can see your ribs!" - Arnold Schwarzenegger

  7. #6
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    That's not an expanded rib cage. That's just control enough over the ab muscles to pull off an incredible vcacuum pose. DB pullovers will work the serratus, but again, you will not expand the rib cage with them.
    What is elite?
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    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomeYield
    That's not an expanded rib cage. That's just control enough over the ab muscles to pull off an incredible vcacuum pose. DB pullovers will work the serratus, but again, you will not expand the rib cage with them.
    Sorry, I just got the "expanding the rib cage" information from Arnold Schwarzenegger...he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about...

    Both he (Frank Zane) and Arnie said it expands your rib cage...
    Last edited by EviscerationX; 08-23-2004 at 06:08 PM.
    "Hey skinny, I can see your ribs!" - Arnold Schwarzenegger

  9. #8
    Senior Member mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EviscerationX
    Dumbell Pullovers will expand your ribcage and develop your serratus muscles. This is the very exercise that let Frank Zane dwarf much larger bodybuilders with his "behind the neck" pose...
    No. Once you have reached adulthood, your bones are pretty much set. You are able to expand your ribcage about much as you are able to stretch your legs to become taller.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercury
    No. Once you have reached adulthood, your bones are pretty much set. You are able to expand your ribcage about much as you are able to stretch your legs to become taller.
    Whatever you wanna think...mine have gotten considerably larger doing this...

    Of course, I'm still fairly young...and you don't see too many old fogies doin this sport...
    Last edited by EviscerationX; 08-23-2004 at 06:12 PM.
    "Hey skinny, I can see your ribs!" - Arnold Schwarzenegger

  11. #10
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    Are you actually able to measure from one rib to the other or are just talking about overall thickness?

    Think about it for a second. Are you actually stretching the bones out from their original position or just adding mass on top of them to create the illusion of them expanding?

    Its almost like saying that doing glute ham raises with expand the hips. The serratus does nothing to make the rib cage expand. Your diaphragm might push the ribs out as your lungs expand but your serratus does not have an impact on how the ribs are going to move.
    http://www.exrx.net/Muscles/SerratusAnterior.html

    Not to say Arnold nor Zane weren't great bodybuilders but neither at the time had any type of formal training in the area of physiology. Sometimes creating the illusion of change makes one think that something is different with one area when actually its just the surrounding area or other factors that have changed. Or in other words, its a debunked theory.
    What is elite?
    "Those who work the hardest often complain the least." -anonymous
    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  12. #11
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    Your ribcage is a set of bones. Why would you even want to make this larger? Like Homeyield already said, you're just adding muscle around the ribcage, giving it the appearance that you've expanded it.

  13. #12
    Magically delicious Shane's Avatar
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    This thread reminded me of a thread from a few years ago in which Delphi, our friendly surgeon who doesn't seem to post anymore, made some great points. So I dug it up. Here's a review:

    Quote Originally Posted by Delphi
    This is a fun argument.

    Point #1: If this clearly worked why hasn't it caught on with everybody? It's clear that squats are good for overall body development and nearly everybody recommends them. It's not clear that breathing pullovers or Rader chest pulls work, however.

    Point #2: If pullovers changed the appearance/size of part of the skeleton, why doesn't this occur in other areas of the body? Why doesn't the humerus become curved from doing heavy curls?

    Point #3: People with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) have chronically over-expanded lungs. When they exhale the bronchioles collapse so they can't exhale completely. Over the years (I'm talking 30-40 years) they get expansion of the ribcage. The anterior-posterior dimension becomes increased. It's not attractive, by the way. If immediate ribcage expansion were possible, you'd see this barrel chest in anybody who smoked regularly, rather than the hard-core end-stage lungers.

    Point #4: If somebody really wanted to prove that this was possible they could take a trainee and put him on an exercise program alleged to expand the ribcage. Before and after chest Xrays or CT scans could clearly document the expansion. It hasn't happened yet, to my knowledge.

    Point #5: I tried the pullovers three times a week for 3 weeks followed by Rader chest pulls for another two. I didn't take measurements, but my ribcage looks the same to me. You've got anecdotal evidence that it does work, now here's some anecdotal evidence that it doesn't.

    Point #6: In the absence of any real evidence (Xray) that proves the ribcage actually enlarges, I would assume any visual or measuring tape enlargement is due to hypertrophy of the intercostals, serratus, lats, erector spinae, and possibly pecs. Just because the circumference as measured with a tape is larger, that does not show whether the increase is due to muscle or bone/cartilage.

    Point #7: It amuses me that everytime this subject is mentioned, the proponents of it challenge the non-believers to prove it isn't possible. Good ol' proving a negative. The onus is on the believers to prove that it does work, with something other than anecdotal evidence. LET'S SEE SOME BEFORE AND AFTER XRAYS!
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  14. #13
    Baby Seal Clubber ElPietro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EviscerationX
    Sorry, I just got the "expanding the rib cage" information from Arnold Schwarzenegger...he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about...
    This is the only thing you have said that I agree with in this thread.
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  15. #14
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    Expand my ribcage, no. Expand my gut, yes.
    Just one guy's opinion.

  16. #15
    Fury Divine RickTheDestroyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EviscerationX
    Sorry, I just got the "expanding the rib cage" information from Arnold Schwarzenegger...he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about...

    Both he (Frank Zane) and Arnie said it expands your rib cage...
    Yeah, and we all know that Arnold and Frank were great, but that doesn't make them infallible. Do you take everything else in the encyclopedia as gospel? I know that I sure as hell don't.

  17. #16
    Wannabebig New Member
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    Hi guys, intersting topic. If you can be bothered to read this then you'll be inspired by this weightlifter who knows a thing or two about the iron game.

    Super Strength - Chapter 8 - The Chest
    By Alan Calvert
    Posted on NaturalStrength.com on 21 March 2002

    In the minds of most of you the word "chest" means the front part of your
    upper-body; and when you say "chest muscles," what you really mean is the
    "pectorals" or breast-muscles. Since the word "chest" means "box," your
    chest is your rib-box. When you take your chest-measurement, you pass the
    tape all around the body, and you will be disappointed, or pleased, according
    to the size of your rib-box. If the rib-box is small, you will never show a
    really big chest measurement, even if the muscles on the breast and upper
    back are thick and highly-developed. On the other hand, the man who has a
    really big rib-box always shows a fine chest measurement, even if the
    upper-body muscles are comparatively under-developed. When the rib-box
    itself is large and the exterior muscles are highly-developed, then you can
    get a phenomenal chest measurement, like that of Lange, Hackenschmidt and
    other devotees of bar-bell exercise.

    The chest and lungs are the storehouses of your power. A big rib-box means
    plenty of room for the lungs. Big lungs are of immense value to the
    super-strong man. They enable him to keep up for many minutes at a time
    exertions which would exhaust the ordinary individual in the course of a few
    seconds.

    Therefore, your first aim should be to increase the size of the rib-box; and
    even if you do not intend to try for super-strength, or if you are not
    interested in any other kind of exercise, I most earnestly recommend you to
    practise the movement described in the following paragraphs. A few months'
    daily practice will increase the girth of your rib-box by several inches. As
    the rib box grows larger, the shoulders will get proportionately broader; the
    lungs will get bigger; and you will find that you will have vastly more
    endurance as the size and power of the lungs increases. Furthermore, you
    will find that your arms and legs will develop almost automatically. A
    big-chested man can get arm and leg development at a much more rapid pace
    than can the man who has a small rib-box, and correspondingly small lungs.
    It is comparatively easy to "pack" muscle on the upper-back; and it is no
    trouble at all to get big muscles on the breast; but the man who has such
    development of the superficial muscles, while he may present a nice
    appearance, will not have super-strength. I have found that if a man can
    increase the girth of the rib-box by six or eight inches, that his shoulder
    blades will set themselves farther apart, thus widening his upper-back; also,
    that in some mysterious way the shoulders seem to re-adjust themselves in a
    way that makes for longer leverage, and hence greater power, in the muscles
    on the upper-body. You will often find that a broad-shouldered man with
    moderate development is much stronger than a heavy-muscled man who has narrow
    shoulders. This is due, in part, to the extra lung capacity; that is, the
    bigger "power-storehouse" which the broad-shouldered man possesses; and, in
    part, to muscular leverage. It is almost impossible to conceive a really
    big-chested man with narrow shoulders; just as it is impossible to make a
    mental picture of a man with, say a 45-inch chest, with shoulders only 16 or
    17 inches in breadth. A man with a 32-inch chest will probably measure less
    than 16 inches from the point of one shoulder to the other; a man with a
    40-inch chest will go about 19 inches across the shoulders; whereas, a giant
    like Zottman has shoulders nearly 24 inches across, to match his 46-inch
    chest.

    Part of the width of the shoulders is due to the development of the deltoid
    muscles on the point of the shoulders; and in most big-chested men these
    muscles are very thick and strong. The deltoids are involved in any scheme
    for chest development; by which I mean that in order to increase the size of
    the true chest, it is necessary to perform exercises which involve the
    deltoid muscles.

    The very best exercise for increasing the size of the rib-box is the
    following: Lie flat on the back; take a light bar-bell and pull it across the
    face to the chest; push it to arms' length, as in Fig. 41; and then, keeping
    the arms stiff and straight, you lower the bell in a quarter-circle movement
    until it rests on the floor at arms' length beyond the head. (Fig. 42 shows
    it part way down.) Still keeping the arms stiff and straight, you raise the
    bell again until it is above the chest. I have seen some men practise this
    exercise faithfully and get only a 2- or 3-inch increase in chest
    measurement; and I have seen others do it no oftener and get an increase of 8
    or 9 inches. Prof. H.B. Lange, who had a 36-inch chest at the age of 30, has
    gotten his chest measurement up to more than 50 inches. Most of the increase
    he ascribes to intelligent practice of this exercise. Occasionally, when a
    student complains to me that while his strength is rapidly increasing, he is
    not gaining in size, I take him off all the other work and make him practise
    this exercise exclusively every day (and sometimes twice a day), for a period
    of a month. I have seen men add 4 inches in one month to the size of their
    chests by this special work; and after they resumed their regular training
    program, the muscles all over their bodies grew in size at a surprising rate.

    By developing the upper back muscles, anyone can add to the width of his
    chest. The important thing is to make your chest deep from front to back;
    and the thing which controls the depth of your chest is the distance between
    your breast-bone and your spine. You can by doing gymnastics, such as
    horizontal-bar and "Roman-ring" work, so develop the upper muscles that your
    chest will appear very wide; but even if you develop the big muscles on your
    breast, the upper part of your chest will still be flat. If, however, you
    increase the depth of your chest, the upper chest will become high-arched,
    and spring out in a swelling curve right from the base of the neck, the way
    it does in some of the Greek athletes whose statues you have seen.

    There is an author by the name of Talbot Mundy who is very fond of
    introducing "Strong Men" into his stories. In his tales of India and the Far
    East, his Herculean character, Jeff Ramsden, is continually getting into
    personal combat with gigantic Arabs or East Indians. Mr. Mundy does not tell
    of professional "Strong Men" or vaudeville performers, but of natural "Strong
    Men"; and whenever he introduces such a character, he almost always says that
    the man in question has broad shoulders and is "ribbed-up like a race-horse."
    The minute you think of a race-horse, you get a picture in your mind of a
    slender-waisted animal with an enormously deep chest. If you could see the
    skeleton of race-horse you'd notice that the rear-ribs are small and that
    each pair of ribs seems to get longer; until when you get to the front and
    longest pairs, the depth of the race-horse's chest is as great as that of a
    2000-lb. truck horse. Now, if a man has a chest "like a race-horse," it
    means that the ribs which fasten to the breast-bone are unusually long, and
    that his chest is unusually deep from front to back. Mr. Mundy evidently
    knows the trade-marks of a natural "Strong Man," because he emphasizes the
    one great essential, and that is the rib-box which is deep from front to back.

    Technically, this chest-exercise is known as the "two-arm pull-over," which
    is rarely used as a competitive lift. Any man who can raise a 100-lb.
    bar-bell from the floor to above his chest with straight arms, is very
    unusually strong. I have heard stories of men raising 150 lbs. in this way,
    but I have never seen anyone do more than 120 lbs. The correct thing for you
    to do is never to practice it as a lift, but as an exercise; (that is, until
    you have had many months' experience). If you spend your time in trying to
    see how much weight you can raise, you will spoil it as a developing
    exercise, because the developing effect comes mostly from the manner in which
    you lower the bell. If you fail to get results from practicing, the fault is
    not with the exercise but with you. In the first place, the arms must be
    stiff and straight, and that means that they must not be bent the least
    trifle at the elbows. I have seen men do the exercise with the arms slightly
    bent at the elbow; and because they didn't bend the arms any further while
    raising the bell, they would insist that their arms were straight. The
    moment you bend the arms at the elbow, you throw more work on arm muscles and
    less on the muscles which control the ribs. The correct way is to lower the
    bell slowly; and as you lower it, you must take a deep breath and spread the
    ribs as far apart as possible. As you raise the bell, you breathe out. It
    is a vital mistake to use too much weight or to count the repetitions. The
    act of counting distracts your attention, which should be concentrated on the
    correct performance of the movement. You should lower and raise the bell as
    many times as you comfortably can. Another important detail is to keep the
    lower part of the spine as straight as possible. As you lower the bell you
    will feel a natural impulse to arch the lower part of the spine and to allow
    the small of the back to raise from the floor. The farther the lower back
    leaves the floor, the less the ribs will spread; so you must try to prevent
    your abdomen from rising in the air as you lower the bell.

    If you weight less than 135 lbs. and have had no experience, use a 25-lb., or
    even a 20-lb., bar-bell. If you weight 150 lbs. and are in fair condition,
    use a 30-lb. bar-bell; and if you are a 200-lb. man, in good shape, you can
    use 40 or 45 lbs. I caution you against using a definite progressive
    schedule. It will be sufficient if you increase the weight of the bell 2 1/2
    lbs. a month; and I believe that 50 lbs. is enough for any man to use in this
    exercise for the purpose of chest development.

    When I said above that you must take a deep breath as you lower the bell, I
    did not mean that you were to pack the lungs with air to such an extent that
    your eyes pop out and your face becomes red. The bell must be lowered
    slowly, but not very slowly. This stunt will give you a wonderful chest
    development if you follow the above directions.

    Incidentally, the act of raising the bell will develop the muscles on the
    inside of the upper-arms and those across the broad of the back; but that
    development is incidental. It is a "by-product," because the aim of the
    exercise is to add size and flexibility to the rib-box. You can get all the
    development you can possible want on the outside of your chest by practicing
    the exercises for the arms, shoulders and upper back, which will be described
    in subsequent chapters.

  18. #17
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    I was in the doctor's office the other day and on the CNN health channel there was a special on a free diver who can hold her breath for 6 minutes. She attributed much of her success to stretching exercises that "stretch" her ribcage and maximize the volume of her lung capacity. She was in her early thirties if I recall correctly.

  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by crud_meridian
    I was in the doctor's office the other day and on the CNN health channel there was a special on a free diver who can hold her breath for 6 minutes. She attributed much of her success to stretching exercises that "stretch" her ribcage and maximize the volume of her lung capacity. She was in her early thirties if I recall correctly.
    How does stretching the ribcage have anything to do with lung capacity?
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  20. #19
    Baby Seal Clubber ElPietro's Avatar
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    Yeah, you can expand your lung capacity, I doubt your ribcage. I skimmed through that long-winded article, I was simply looking for some form of reasoning, or explanation based on muscle physiology, unfortunately I couldn't find a shred. So if someone else comes upon a tidbit in it, please let me know.

    From all physiology I have read, applying stress to the body can impact skeletal structure in a couple ways. Under heavy load, your bone density can increase. Under repeated stress, such as physical strikes, your bone can build up in areas with calcium deposits. This is known as calcification. For example, thai boxers, that are repeatedly kicking with the shins, will have quite a bit of buildup in that area. Especially the really dumb ones that beat their shins with metal rods or bats. This of course also deadens the nerves and is not a good way to strong shins.

    But expand the ribcage? This sounds really stupid. And to this day, I have only read it with no explanation that relates back to any physiological reasoning. Can it happen? Maybe, but until I see something intelligent on the subject to support it, I will not believe it. What are you doing on pullovers? You are stretching, so wouldn't that mean any form of stretch over time would increase bone length? After all, if you are expanding the rib cage, your individual ribs would also have to lengthen. I don't believe you can induce bone length growth once your growing period is ended.

    Also, it's such bad logic to use world class bodybuilders as examples. You think they were some small husk with no skeletal structure, and then through their miraculous technique of pullovers, got to expand things so they could add more mass? The frame was already there. This is the first part of being a bodybuilder. This is why not all can be one. You can train and take all the gear you want, but if your frame won't support it, you will not be at the asthetic level of the others. If you could expand your ribcage, why not other bones in the body? Then everyone with some training, and arnolds book could be mr. universe.

    I don't even see how you can buy into this if you put more than 6 seconds of critical thought into it. But too many are ready to turn off their brain and listen to the biggest guy, and assume that he has some form of technical background in the sport. You don't have to know how you got big, if you are big. We can blab all day, but hard work, dedication, top .0001% genetics, and enough gear to kill a bear, will make a world class bodybuilder regardless of what he thinks he knows.

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    Deadlifts are like women, they'll hurt you everytime, but they'll also make you a man. - Me

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    I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.

    Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk.

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  21. #20
    I want some crack! TBone4Eva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericg
    How does stretching the ribcage have anything to do with lung capacity?
    Probably through breathing exercises she has been able to strengthen her diaphragm and intercostal muscles, which expand the chest during breathing. As you probably know, it is the expansion of the chest which lowers the pressure in the chest cavity and allows the lungs to inflate. So, it may be possible that these strengthened muscles allow her to expand her chest a little more and thus more air into her lungs.
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  22. #21
    Magically delicious Shane's Avatar
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    Actually a big reason that deep sea divers can hold their breath longer has to do with CO2 and the bodies negative feedback loops and other physiological adaptations. We did it in exercise physiology. We held our breath for as long as we could, then after a minute of recovery we did some breathing exercises and held our breath again. Everyone could hold their breath about 30 seconds longer. I've never seen any proof that any exercise will expand the ribcage. But I wouldn't doubt that developing the muscle around the ribcage (the pecs, lats, infraspinatus, etc) would create the appearance of a larger ribcage.
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  23. #22
    Frank Zane-ification
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    Your rib cage expands every time you take a breath, I don't see how it's that hard to understand. I may be wrong, but before I started that exercise about 2 years ago...my rib cage was considerably smaller from left to right. I do believe it's possible, but this is just my opinion. I'm just basing it off from what I've seen in my progress.

    Maybe it IS thickness, I dunno. Here's another pic of good serratus development..."thickness" I'll just call it now, combined with great lats, and then said before, the great control over the ab muscles to hold a good vacuum pose.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Hey skinny, I can see your ribs!" - Arnold Schwarzenegger

  24. #23
    Magically delicious Shane's Avatar
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    Your ribcage does not expand when you take a breath.
    "you are like my yoda." - chops

    "you are not like yoda at all!" - chops

    "shh...I'm only gay for pay" - ECTX

    "no matter how much you lift, just remember that on the other side of the world, a little chinese girl is warming up with your max" - bIgHwN86

    My Journal

  25. #24
    Frank Zane-ification
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    The chest consists of the chest muscles, the ribs, the intercostal muscles between each rib, and the diaphragm. The ribcage also protects several key organs such as the heart and lungs, and kidneys. Performing exercises to strengthen the ribcage musculature can help protect the chest as well as expand the chest cavity for greater breathing and symmetry.

    It's more like you're expanding the cartilage between the ribcage then the ribs themselves, except the cartilage becomes much harder when you're older and will be close to impossible to achieve this if you're not at an early age...

    And yes, your ribcage expands while you're taking deep breaths...
    Last edited by EviscerationX; 08-27-2004 at 03:22 AM.
    "Hey skinny, I can see your ribs!" - Arnold Schwarzenegger

  26. #25
    I want some crack! TBone4Eva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shane
    Your ribcage does not expand when you take a breath.
    From Howstuffworks.com:
    http://health.howstuffworks.com/lung1.htm

    How You Breathe
    Your lungs are located within your chest cavity inside the rib cage (Figure 1). They are made of spongy, elastic tissue that stretches and constricts as you breathe. The airways that bring air into the lungs (the trachea and bronchi) are made of smooth muscle and cartilage, allowing the airways to constrict and expand. The lungs and airways bring in fresh, oxygen-enriched air and get rid of waste carbon dioxide made by your cells. They also help in regulating the concentration of hydrogen ion (pH) in your blood.

    When you inhale, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles (those are the muscles between your ribs) contract and expand the chest cavity. This expansion lowers the pressure in the chest cavity below the outside air pressure. Air then flows in through the airways (from high pressure to low pressure) and inflates the lungs. When you exhale, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles relax and the chest cavity gets smaller. The decrease in volume of the cavity increases the pressure in the chest cavity above the outside air pressure. Air from the lungs (high pressure) then flows out of the airways to the outside air (low pressure). The cycle then repeats with each breath.
    Last edited by TBone4Eva; 08-27-2004 at 05:47 AM.
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