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How should men and women differ their chest workout to attain a chest suitable for their gender? Here are the qualities that I believe are masculine and feminine. Your thoughts may differ, but I'd like to hear chest exercise variations that attain these particular definitions.

Masculine

A masculine chest should be like plates of armor. They should be wide, flat, and square shape, They should not be bulbous. The top should be like a plateau and not recede smoothly into the collarbone. It should not be top nor bottom heavy, but rather even throughout. Dexter Jackson, below, is a great example.

Dexter Jackson

Lex Luger, below, shows an example of a feminine male chest. His chest is round, soft, and squishy looking. We would call these "man boobs" if he were fatter.

Lex Luger

Feminine

A feminine chest is hard to describe because it is covered by breasts. There should not be a division between the chest and the breast. The two parts should seamlessly join. The chest should enhance the breast, making them appear bigger. Silvana Silvati, below, is a great example.

Silvana Silvati

Below is the total opposite of a feminine chest. The skin around the breast is too tight. You can clearly see that the breast is forming a bulb over the chest. On some more extreme female bodybuilders, the breasts appear to be dried up like raisins.

female bodybuilder

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I have a feeling this has everything to do with genetics (and perhaps steroids) and very little to do with a specific workout. –  Greg Apr 7 '11 at 11:46
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It could also have something to do with how good your plastic surgeon is. I don't know the story on these particular women (maybe Silvana Salvati just got lucky with her genes), but it's nearly impossible for someone to cut their body fat so low that you can see their 6-pack and still maintain full, voluptuous breasts. Breast augmentation is common enough among body builders that bodybuilding.com has an FAQ article on it. –  Barbie Apr 7 '11 at 16:14
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I'd stay away from steroids and photoshop. That last picture looks like they photoshopped a woman's head and breasts onto a man's body. Depending on the magazine, they do exaggerate different aspects of a person's body in post production. That might even include "Frankensteining" by assembling an ideal from several different people. –  Berin Loritsch Jun 3 '11 at 17:41
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Unfortunately while there are reams of bodybuilding books by "experts" telling you how to sculpt your body, there is very little scientific evidence to suggest you can do more than:

  1. Increase the overall size of the muscle, and
  2. Improve the definition by reducing the covering subcutaneous fat

I've analyzed pictures of famous bodybuilders who claim to "sculpt" but I can guarantee you cannot show me two pictures side by side of any bodybuilder who changed the shape of their muscle. In every case, you might see that muscle become larger, or you might see the definition of the muscle more clearly because they are low body fat.

So the keys you have for defining your physique are nutrition and training to focus on fat burning and hypertrophy, but as far as having the larger, flatter vs. rounder muscles, that's given to you at birth.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, in The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, always talked about the various regions a muscle has. For example, there are different exercises to target the inner, outer, upper, and lower chest. By targeting a specific lagging region, one could improve their proportions. This is what I mean by sculpting. Who can say the world's greatest bodybuilder did not know what he was talking about? –  JoJo Apr 8 '11 at 7:46
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I say that someone having perfect teeth doesn't make them a dentist. Let me talk to the person who took care of their teeth. Arnold was a great bodybuilder but his book was hardly scientific and it was based on a lot of anecdotal ideas and hearsay. I'd rather base presumptions about muscle shaping on science and repeatable results than anecdotal ideas thrown in a book. Science proves motor units run the length of the muscle and there is no activating a "region" of it, it's all or nothing. –  Jeremy Likness Apr 15 '11 at 15:21
    
@Jeremy Likness, unfortunately the lack of exercise study will likely continue. The government entities in charge of health and wellness are more concerned about disease prevention and less concerned about the most optimal training programs. Particularly because those studies would be quite expensive to do, and there is a continued separation between academia and practice. The foundations of current weight training programming are from a study done in 1936 about general adaptation syndrome (GAS). The remainder of the studies are non verifiable soviet studies from communist Russia. –  Berin Loritsch Aug 1 '11 at 17:33
    
@JeremyLikness +1 for helping to debunk the widespread sculpting myths! –  Mike S Aug 7 '12 at 3:04
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