Possible to expand one's ribcage semi-permanently or permanently?

Generally, I keep in very good shape. I used to “body build” years ago, and learned tons about nutrition, exercise and the body.

Some exercises were techniques to expand the rib cage. Most movements invloved stretching (with weight resistance) the arms way back over the head while lying on a bench, so that the rib cage would stretch out. The emphasis was on expanding the rib cage…making ones body more exspansive on top.

I always wondered about the effectiveness of these exercises. While body builders do have big chests and large upperbodies, it could very well be that it all is due to weight traiing the muscle groups, and might have nothing to do with resistance training of the rib cage. Does the rib cage stretching add anything in terms of size?

Any facts available? Can one expand their rib cage?

I don’t think so… if you actually could get the bones to stretch out and stay that way, you’d probably be doing some serious damage. I saw in an old body-building magazine from the 60’s a similar thing about supposedly making one’s shoulders broader by hanging for maybe 30 min/day from a chinning bar starting when a guy was in his mid-teens. Sounds like bullshit to me, otherwise it would be a lot more prevelant. and I beleive the only way you’d get a noticable increase in body size (a 5mm increase in you rib cage radius would go quite unnoticed) would be through surgery, which kinda defeats the purpose I think

Your skeleton is pretty much stuck being the size it is; the big upper bodies of weight-lifters come from the muscles they build. It also helps if you have relativley broad shoulders and a small waist. Even shrimpy little guys with good skeletal proportions can make themselves look mighty impressive by bulking up on top even more. You won’t really ever have the body-builder look though if you start out with hips the same width as your shoulders… you can be just as strong and develloped, but it won’t look as good as easily.
Sometimes it’s interesting to see a former body-builder who has completely given up the sport - you’d never believe they used to be that big.

I saw on a strongman competition a little tribute/biography bit they did on one guy who had the largests biceps in the world at the time, but got into a bad accident and was in hospital for a long time. They showed him after recovery walking down the hospital hall - supposedly - all I saw was this scrawny looking teenager in a ball cap; then I realized that was him… I was bigger than him!
I’ve also seen some x-rays at my school of very overweight people. While you could tell how massive they were from the darker outline of their bodies, their skeletons looked completely normal sized and proportioned.

Answer: opinions differ.

One school of though says that the chest cartilage looses its pliability once one reaches about 20 years old, making it difficult and perhaps impossible to actually increased ribcage size.

Others disagree, pointing to men who start competitive bodybuilding in their 20s or 30s, and gain both muscle mass and size in their ribcage.

I’m guessing if your a natural ectomorph and want to increase the thickness of your chest, you already have one strike against you. But the chest and back muscles themselves can be developed considerably through special exercises.

Give it six months and let us know.