Are There Exercises to Expand the Ribcage?

Man Doing E-Z Curl Bar Skullcrusher
A man is doing barbell pullovers. (Image: lawcain/iStock/Getty Images)

The rib cage naturally expands when you inhale. From an anatomical standpoint, the size of your rib bones is constant and they cannot be made wider. When the thought of expanding the rib cage comes to mind, you need to focus on the muscles that surround this area. By bulking them up with specific exercises, you will create a fuller, more defined appearance.

Pullovers

Pullovers work the chest, upper latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior muscles. The lats are in the back and the serratus anterior sit on the front upper ribcage. Begin by lying across a weight bench on your back while holding a dumbbell straight above your body on the inside of one weighted end. Your body should be perpendicular to the bench and your head and shoulders should be resting on top. Keeping your arms straight, slowly lower the weight down behind your head in an arcing motion until you feel a good stretch in your ribcage. Raise the weight back up in a steady motion and repeat.

Side Plank With Row

A side plank with row is a complex exercise that requires a cable machine. Before you begin, attach a single handle to a low setting on one side of the machine and get down on your left side while facing the weight stack. Grasp the handle with your right hand, place your left forearm on the floor and stack your legs on top of each other. Steadily raise your hips off the floor and form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Maintain this position as you pull the handle in toward your body. As you do this, keep your arm close to your side. Hold for a second and fully extend your arm out in front of your body. After doing a set of reps, switch sides.

Straight Arm Pulldowns

Straight arm pulldowns require a cable machine and revolving bar. Attach the bar to a high setting on one side of the machine and grasp it on the ends. Keeping your legs in a staggered stance, push the bar all the way down to the front of your thighs. Maintain a straight back and tight abs as you do this. Slowly raise the bar back up and repeat.

Barbell Rollouts

Barbell rollouts work the abs and serratus muscles from a kneeling position on the floor. Attach a weight plate to each side of the barbell and grasp it with a wide grip. Keeping your arms straight, raise your body off your heels and roll the bar forward on the floor. As you do this, lower your torso down and reach out with your arms. Once your body parallels the floor, roll yourself back up to the starting position and repeat.

Saxon Side Bends

Saxon side bends work the ribcage area with the aid of two dumbbells. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the weights straight above your head with your palms facing forward. Keeping your lower body still, bend laterally to your right side as far as possible and hold for a second. Steadily rise back up and bend laterally to your left side. Continue to alternate from side to side.

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