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Arnold’s Championship Training Secrets: Creating a Cavernous Chest

By Arnold Schwarzenegger as told Gene Mozee

Photography by Art Zeller

I’ve never been a big believer in the “great bone structure, great potential” theory. It’s a definite advantage, but it’s not the most important factor in developing a great physique. Most bodybuilding champions had to overcome great adversity to reach their pinnacles of success. I believe that building a great physique is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent potential, or good bone structure.

In my own case I certainly conveyed no image of a future bodybuilding champion when I began training. Not only was I thin, but mu chest was very shallow and flat. No one would have ever guessed that I had a 58-inch chest and a 500-pound bench press in my future based on my potential—or lack of it. Hard work and an intense desire to succeed can overcome almost any obstacle.

Right from the beginning I was always greatly impressed with Reg Park’s fantastic physique. I was tall as he was, and I set my goals to build a Mr. Universe body that would someday equal or surpass his. Park’ body was fully developed and symmetrical, but I would say without a doubt that he had the greatest chest development in the world at that time. He had massive, perfectly developed pecs and a huge rib cage. When he stood relaxed, his chest looked twice as thick as his waist from the side. Some guys who look great from the front because they have good pecs seem to disappear from the side because they lack deep rib cages. Their chests and waists look about the same thickness.

Fully expending the rib cage is one essential factor in developing an impressive chest—since the rib box is the foundation on which you build your whole torso. To develop the chest, back and shoulders to their ultimate capacity, you have to fully expand your rib cage.

Chest expansion results from a combination of breath-stimulating and chest-stretching movements. Heavy leg work—particularly squats—helps induce deep breathing and elevates the ribs upward and outward. I recommend that you do a light set of dumbbell pullovers immediately after every set of squats to fully stretch your rib cage and expand your chest. In addition, you should do pullovers with your chest workouts, as I’ll explain later.

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