3 Exercises For Pectus Excavatum


Kyle Blandford with HypertroFit and pectuswarriors.com Today, we’re going to go through some of the best exercises that you can be performing for pectus excavatum for that sunken chest. So one of the biggest mistakes that I see people making with this condition is just focusing on training the pecs, trying to build your chest up. I’m not saying that’s a bad idea, but if that’s the only thing that you’re doing you actually might end up making things worse. So, the foundational principle that you should be following when it comes to training your upper body, especially with Pectus is performing at least as many if not more pulls for every press that you do, and more often than not, I like to have my Pectus patients and clients performing at least 2:1 pull to press ratio in their training. So if for every press push-up or something like that that they’re doing, they’re doing two pulls. So that’s number one, making sure that you’ve got enough pulls to compensate for the amount of presses that you’re doing. And the reason we want to emphasize the pulls is to help pull your shoulders back into their proper place and improve your posture. One of the side effects of having the sunken chest is you get these rolled-forward shoulders and if I was just to continue with all the bench press and push ups and do nothing on the backside to help even that out, then this is just going to shorten these muscles further and further and round over my posture, which doesn’t look good and it’s also not good for your health. So, we’re going to look at a couple exercises for the pulls some for the presses and give you guys a really good idea of what some of these foundational movements that you should be performing are. So first, we’re going to target the back and the easiest exercise to really emphasize the muscles that we’re trying to target here is a band pull-apart. So what we’re trying to hit are the shoulder blades, so the muscles right on the inside and middle of your back and those are primarily responsible for retracting the shoulder blades and helping keep a nice, proper posture. And so with a band pull-apart you’re going to start, you can use a single band. You’re going to grab hold of that band, about shoulder-width apart and then focus on squeezing the shoulder blades back and really opening your chest up. So seeing that from the back side here, you can see my arms pull apart. They stay straight and the middle of my back is contracted. So this is something that you can do with just a single band very simply and then another way that I really like to perform these as well, is by taking two bands, first one is anchored here to a pole or power rack and then you can grab the second band out here and extend much the same way, but now you’re getting a little bit of an additional pull in the front there, and it’s also going to help keep the band from getting stuck on your body but the same idea here, we’re squeezing the shoulder blades back, really opening the chest up. So we’re not just down here and letting the rear delts do all the work, you’re really getting into the upper mid-back and opening the chest, opening the ribcage as you’re squeezing those rhomboids and those mid traps to open your chest up. So the band pull-parts are a great isolation exercise for helping open up the chest and target the upper mid-back. Next we’re going to move onto a compound exercise, the barbell row, and we’re going to perform this in a really specific way. So with every rep that we’re going to perform here you’re going to be aiming to bring the bar up to your sternum, up high on your chest because that’s going to further emphasize the upper mid back, again, really important postural muscles there. If you keep things lower, it’s not bad, it’s just another way of performing the barbell row, but it’s going to be more lat emphasis, which isn’t going to give us quite as much of the posture benefit. So I’m going to show you how to do these next. You’re going to grab the bar with a fairly wide grip and then when you’re pulling this off the ground keep your torso about as flat as you can, parallel with the floor and then just pull the bar right up to the middle chest while squeezing your upper-mid back. We don’t want to be too high up here, because if I’m rowing low in here this is all lats working. So again, parallel with the floor, flat back, up to the middle of the chest. So those are just two examples and there are many other back and rowing variations that you can perform. Really, the one thing that you want to keep in mind when we’re trying to target the upper mid-back is where your elbow positioning is. So any time you’re trying to get up there you need to make sure that your elbows are elevated and pulling in that horizontal plane. So that upper-mid back gets the work because if your elbows are dropping down that’s where your lats are going to be a little bit more emphasized. So that’s where our main focus with the barbell row was, keeping things up, elbows out wider, so that we can actually pull to the sternum. And when you keep that elbow positioning in mind, you can adapt just about any horizontal row to suit your needs. Now with chest and training the pecs specifically, because of that natural rounding of the shoulders that most individuals individuals with Pectus experience, It’s not uncommon for most pressing exercises to make you feel a lot of tension in the front of your shoulders and not as much in your pecs and in your chest and so for that reason we want to choose some exercises that really allow us to focus on the pecs and take the front delts out of it. And one of the best ways to do that is using an underhanded or supinated grip during different types of presses. So you can actually do an upside down press with dumbbells, you can do it with a barbell, though, It’s a little bit more of a dangerous exercise. I wouldn’t recommend that right out of the gate for a lot of newer trainees. But one of my favorite variations is the underhand kettlebell pushup. So I’m going to show that to you next. So with the Kettlebell pushup were really trying to focus on squeezing the chest every single rep and one of the focus points that I like to instruct my clients on with these, is trying to stick your hands through the floor. So we’re going to lower under control and then drive your hands through the floor. You’ll feel a ton of tension through the pecs as you’re lowering, feeling the stretch, then pressing the hands through the floor, driving kettlebells through the floor, and get a really nice contraction through the chest without the shoulders being able to take over. So take those three exercises, remember that foundational point that we want to have probably a two-to-one pull to press ratio for your overall training set up and repeat it multiple times through the week. If you can train your chest and your back at least twice a week, you’re going to be able to grow those areas strengthen those areas and improve your posture and your overall look about your physique.