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I'm male, with a large build. I have a barrel chest and a somewhat triangular upper body. I also lift weights. I'm not totally sure that I could tuck my elbows into the side of my torso before I started lifting weights, but I definitely can't now. My arm close to my shoulder touches my torso, but the closer you get to my elbow, the more space there is between my arm and my torso. At the elbow, the gap is several inches, fist-sized.

Is that totally normal due to the geometry of my body and the the space consumed by my chest and arm muscles? Should I just ignore it completely? Or is it a loss of flexibility due to weight lifting that I should attempt to correct through stretching?

The gap seems much larger when my elbow is bent, possibly because of the extra space taken by my contracted muscles? When my arm is relaxed, there is much less space between my elbow and torso.

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Assuming you mean tucking your elbows into your torso — tucking them into your chest is an anatomical impossibility — it's entirely possible that your build doesn't allow for that.

On the other hand, you're saying that when you try to tuck your elbows there is still a fist-length of space between elbow and body. That does sound a little abnormal...

Check your range of motion in other ways:

  • Can you raise both arms straight up above your head?

  • Can your fingers touch behind your back?

  • Can you hold a barbell while doing a barbell squat?

If you're struggling with these, it's possible your range of motion is inhibited.

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