Some weightlifters only need to fine-tune their approach to training, nutrition, and recovery to build a spectacular chest. These hardships come on top of the normal difficulties everyone else experiences. Specifically, genetics.
Both the size and power of the chest muscles are mostly determined by genetics.
Have you tried just as hard as everyone else but to no avail? You were specifically considered when writing this article. Our first order of business is to address your concerns. We'll look into all the potential ways your family history can affect your pecs.
But we won't just leave you hanging like that. We also look at some of the best ways to work out and even overcome the chest you were born with.
Role of Genetics in Muscle Growth
Your genes are units of genetic information that you inherit from your parents. They are responsible for determining everything from eye color to skeletal form. Environmental factors like diet, chemical exposure, and lifestyle choices can modify the expression of some genes.
You can grow muscle by engaging in resistance training. However, how quickly you gain muscle depends on your genetic makeup. Likewise, genetics might influence how easily you grow muscle in a particular place, such as your chest.
When it comes to weightlifting, the mechanical advantage of a muscle insertion that is further from the joint allows the lifter to use less force to move a higher weight. When posing for photos, bodybuilders are partially judged by how high their biceps peak, achieved by the length of their tendons and the depth of their muscle bellies.
All of them have the potential to help you succeed, but you're born with them and can't change it. That's what we mean when we discuss the link between DNA and athletic performance.
Conversely, "poor genetics" would be the antithesis of everything mentioned above. Not only is it never beneficial to have a diminished lung capacity, but insertions can also significantly impact our physical prowess. Because of this, the chest may have trouble growing muscle bulk or have an undesirable "misshaped" appearance.
Ultimately, as unkind as it may sound, you'll probably have to figure out how to work around the genetics you were given. You'll never find true happiness unless you accept and embrace who you are, no matter how cliche it may sound. It's still good to strive for development, though.
You can reduce the impact of your poor chest-development genes by doing some actions. Let's look at how your chest muscle's sensitivity to lifting is influenced by your genes and what you can do about it.
Bad Chest Genetics
Some people have chests that are naturally drawn to be less than ideal, making it difficult or impossible for them to get the idealized, beautiful chest they desire.
These characteristics include things like age, gender, and even body type, the distribution of different types of muscle fibers, and hormone levels. To be more specific, chest muscle genetics can affect the muscle's attachment sites as well as the level of separation between the heads of the muscle.
Additionally, it affects the fusion of the pectoralis major muscle with the front half of the deltoid muscle and the crossing of the muscle fibers at the sternum.
To summarize, your genetics play a significant role in determining how well your chest muscles can look and how well they can perform.
In the following paragraphs, we will delve more into these hereditary characteristics before discussing how to make the most of what you have.
Chest Muscle Composition
Our muscles are made up of many types of muscle fibers, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages. Type I, IIa, and IIb muscle fibers make up these. Size, ease of fatigue, and the amount of force generated are listed from least to most.
- Type I: Smallest in Size, Least Faltering, and Producing the Least Force
- Type IIa: Medium-Sized, Moderately Monotonous, and High-Force Production
- Type IIb: Largest, Most Durable, and Producing the Most Force
Different types of muscle fibers excel at different tasks. The capacity for muscle fibers to expand is of utmost importance in bodybuilding. Hypertrophy exercise stimulates the growth of Type II fibers more than Type I fibers. Because of this, a muscle with a higher proportion of Type II muscular fibers will have greater expansion potential.
Mostly, people have roughly the same ratio of Type I to Type II muscle fibers in each muscle, anywhere between 5 and 10%. The usual makeup of chest muscles consists of roughly 60% Type II and 40% Type I fibers.
Changing the ratio and the Type I fibers to Type II would be the most obvious solution. Currently, the best answer, but whether or not this is possible, isn’t known too well yet.
It has been studied, although the evidence is weak. We have a hard time picturing how that training might differ from what is now being done (there are only so many ways to train a muscle). That will not be a problem unless you're a statistical outlier.
Telltale Signs of Bad Chest Genetics
An athlete's poor chest genetics might be identified in several ways. Disproportions in upper- and lower-chest muscles, chest gaps, and clavicle length are examples of this.
Gaps in the Chest
Insertion points that are less-than-ideal for achieving a good thick chest can lead to the development of chest gaps. A space between the left and right pectoral muscles is referred to as the "pec gap." The reason for this is that the insertion points of the left and right pecs into the sternum are not located in close proximity to one another.
This creates a space that is more noticeable when the pecs are fully developed or when one is lean. It's also possible that the bone structure in that area, where the rib cage makes this gap, is to blame. The gap is an unattractive characteristic that cannot be remedied by any exercise since there is an insufficient muscle in that region for it to be filled in.
Shoulder blades (clavicles) that are shorter suggest that there won't be enough area for the muscles to grow and develop to their full potential. In comparison, an individual with shorter clavicles does not have the same space or capacity to work with, which limits their ability to increase the size of their pec muscles significantly.
When it comes to weightlifting, shorter and narrower clavicles are typically an indication that the lifter has poor shoulder genetics and poor chest genetics.
Disproportions of Muscles in Upper and Lower Chest
There is a chance that lifters will have upper and lower pec muscles that are not the same thickness. The upper or lower part of the chest has more muscle fibers than the rest.
Because of bad chest genes, the chest will be uneven, and one part will be harder to develop than the other. This is because one part of the chest, the upper or lower chest, is already more developed than the other.
Can You Fix Bad Chest Genetics?
The rate at which muscles may develop, the shape they can take, and the amount of muscle created through training will all be significantly impacted by bad chest genetics.
Personality, hair color, height, and even susceptibility to developing a beer belly are just a few physical characteristics that may be traced back to one's genetic makeup.
Little can be done to alter a lifter's genetics, as they determine the essence of an individual and, thus, whether or not that individual can easily create a barrel chest. Muscle insertion places, attachment sites, and head separation are all determined by bad chest genetics.
The pectoralis major (chest muscles) and the front delts (front section of the shoulder) blend differently in each person, as do the muscle fibers that cross at the sternum (the T-shaped bone in the center of the chest that joins the ribs).
Given these circumstances, it's not hard to foresee how much of an impact genetics will have on performance and potential increases.
The good news is that if unfavorable muscle chest genetics inhibit muscle growth, they can be remedied. For weightlifters with this deficiency, the solution lies in exercising harder and using strategies that adequately activate and stimulate the pecs to hypertrophy despite their genetics (muscle growth).
However, some people can just be born with great chest genetics. Still, they aren't training with enough volume, or maybe they aren't training with the right technique, so they assume they have poor muscle-chest genetics and give up on training.
Since this is the case, it is important to determine whether or not poor chest genetics play a role in explaining why advances have been slow.
Overcoming Bad Chest Genetics
Bodybuilders need to know that they might be doing a few things incorrectly and improve them rather than griping and moaning about how their poor chest genetics restrict their chest workouts and gains.
To overcome training plateaus, defy all odds, and develop a solid chest, you must put up the extra effort by increasing volume, cycling out exercises, and varying training approaches.
Increasing Training Volume
The most common mistake weightlifters make when training their chest or any other muscle group is not putting in enough effort. It is essential to ensure that the chest muscle receives sufficient training volume to produce hypertrophy; training volume is the product of the weight used per number of repetitions and the total number of sets.
Those with poor chest genetics will have a tougher time achieving their muscle growth goals without putting in the extra effort.
Increasing Training Frequency
Lifters, especially those with poor chest genetics, need to consider training frequency in addition to volume; individuals with good genetics can also take advantage of this fact by increasing the frequency of their workouts. Many weightlifters fail to strike the chest muscle often enough to see benefits.
They then frequently turn to the "genetics" excuse.
The chest muscles need to be worked out twice or thrice a week to get the stimulus they require to grow and develop.
Hypertrophy can be greatly enhanced by employing undulating periodization approaches, such as altering the intensity and volume daily. To allow the muscles to recuperate from the increased training frequency, however, it is equally important to schedule sufficient rest between sessions.
Not Working All Parts of the Chest Muscle
This is a common issue among weightlifters who spend years training their chest muscles but see no noticeable results. Lifters typically focus on the flat bench press, which works in the middle of the chest muscles. They focus on the middle of their chests and rarely work the upper and lower chests.
A lack of development in either the upper or lower pecs, or both, would characterize the chests of such weightlifters. One of the worst things a lifter can do to build a big chest is to ignore the upper chest.
Increasing Mind Muscle Connection
When performing the bench press or any other chest exercise, pec muscles that are genetically predisposed to be weak will be at a biomechanical disadvantage due to their inherited inefficiency.
The "mind-muscle connection" occurs when a person believes their muscles are contracting as they perform resistance exercise. Concentration occurs when people consciously pay attention to the muscle they are contracting.
Isolation lifts produce more mind-muscle connection than compound movements as these activities engage more than one muscle—the bench press is a compound action. Exercises that isolate the chest, like cable flyes and crossovers, will improve the lifter's ability to sense or feel the tightness in the movement.
Inadequate Range of Motion (ROM)
Using an improper range of motion in chest workouts is an issue that can worsen the problems created by bad chest genetics. When working the chest muscles through their full ROM, more fibers are engaged, leading to greater activation and, ultimately, greater muscle hypertrophy and strength gains.
You need to focus on stimulating all ranges. This includes the mid, fully shortened and fully lengthened ranges. Since the bench press is mainly a mid-range exercise you should focus on including other exercises like the machine pec dec which works the fully shortened range and the dumbbell pec fly which works the fully lengthened range. Together doing all of these will create a better developed chest.
Cycling Out Exercises
Weightlifters frequently hit training plateaus when they become complacent in their routines and refuse to switch things up. Since the joints are being worked the same way day in and day out, this increases the risk of injury and weariness. And yet, some weightlifters jump around too much, never allowing their muscles to adapt to any given set of motions.
Compound activities like presses and isolation exercises like flyes should both find a place in your workout program. To give muscles time to adapt to a new routine while preventing them from repeatedly plateauing from doing the same workouts, experts recommend sticking to a program for two to four weeks before altering things up.
Those with poor chest genetics can benefit greatly from cable crossovers. Lifters with poor chest muscle genetics may have trouble bench pressing effectively because of a lack of leverage caused by their flat rib cages. These people should use cable crossovers to overcome this problem and still get a good pec workout.
Taking Time Off Training
After reaching a training plateau where they are no longer generating significant gains during chest workouts, some people tend to over-train. You should incorporate rest periods into their programs so that the body may recover and prepare itself for a new workout routine.
The Bottom Line
Your genes partially determine your ability to pack on muscle. The concept of "poor genetics" is open to interpretation. Your genes may make it easier or harder than it is for the majority of other individuals to create muscle in general or specifically in your chest, depending on whether or not you want to build muscle.
Regular chest training is the most effective technique to achieve maximum growth in this body area. Working with a personal trainer who can devise a program specifically catered to your needs may be beneficial.