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  • Writer's pictureJulian Molteno

“IF YOU DON’T HAVE IT.....DON’T HIT IT!”


Fans of the Pumping Iron movie will recognise the above words, spoken by Arnold to Franco when all the guys were in Gold’s Gym having an impromptu post workout posing session. The pose in question was the Side Chest and Arnold accused Franco of doing a “front chest” instead. Not that the front chest pose even exists! Franco was just trying to show his chest to it’s best advantage. A losing game if ever there was one as one of Arnold’s best poses was the Side Chest. Anyhow, this got me thinking about how these days the traditional Side Chest has completely changed. In the 40’s and 50’s when a big chest and arms were all you really needed to have a great physique, the Side Chest was an important pose and the higher you could lift your chest by expanding your rib cage the better. The bottom left pic of Freddy Oritz (who competed in the 60’s) demonstrates this perfectly. He does not actually have a huge amount of pectoral muscle but he manages to look impressive by sucking in his stomach and lifting his rib cage. Interestingly the pectoral muscles themselves are not actually flexed in the pose, both pecs are relaxed. Bottom right we see how Lou Ferrigno (in the 70’s and 80’s) has moderated the exaggerated lift of the rib cage to concentrate on the actual pectoral muscles themselves. It is essentially the same pose but not as extreme in its execution. More natural, but still the main focus of the pose is the chest in which Louie is now flexing the far pec to add some drama and hardness to the pose. Fast forward to the age of growth hormone and “bubble guts” and we can now see the Side Chest looks nothing like the pose Freddy was doing back in the 60’s. Our main photo is seven time Mr Olympia Phil Heath doing the Twenty First Century version of the Side Chest. And what can we see? The chest in the Side Chest is no longer important! It has virtually disappeared. Even though Phil has huge pecs they are totally overwhelmed by his shoulders and arms. He is contracting BOTH pecs, actually making the nearside pec appear smaller! He can barely be bothered to lift his rib cage, preferring to show the detail of his serratus anterior muscles in his torso instead. So there you have it. The evolution of the Side Chest. Personally I prefer the middle ground of the Louie era, showing the pecs and the accompanying muscles in harmony. And just to prove it, below is a pic of an unknown bodybuilder doing his version of the classic Side Chest!! 


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