Pectus Excavatum and Bodybuilding

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pectus excavatum bodybuilding

Pectus Excavatum and bodybuilding may sound wrong but there are actually several successful Olympians and bodybuilders with Pectus Excavatum.

Pectus Excavatum is a common condition in which a person’s breastbone or sternum is concave or ‘sunken in’. Meaning “hollow chest” in Latin, pectus excavatum can range from mild, with few noticeable symptoms, to more severe, with symptoms such as impaired lung function, fatigue, and anxiety.

working out pectus excavatum

A common question many people with varying degrees of pectus excavatum want to know is this:

Bodybuilding with pectus excavatum

Yes, yes, you can. Exercise is a common way to treat and improve this condition. You can do bodybuilding with pectus excavatum. While it is possible for severe pectus excavatum to reduce athletic performance, it is possible to be a successful athlete. Cody Miller, a gold-medal-winning American swimmer, has pectus excavatum and opted out of surgery before winning a gold medal.

pectus excavatum shorter life

 Bodybuilding and weightlifting can be a great way to improve posture and strengthen muscles to ease symptoms of pectus excavatum.

Does Pectus Excavatum Make You Weaker

No evidence having Pectus Excavatum makes your muscles physically weaker. In severe cases, it may cause you fatigue, but with consistent training and a proper program, you can make consistent strength gains and build muscle with pectus excavatum, just like someone without the condition.

Unfortunately, there is evidence that pectus excavatum can hamper your cardiovascular performance, especially in severe cases. Nonetheless, your cardio can improve with training, even with the condition.

Muscle growth occurs from such factors as progressive overload, sleep, nutrition, hormone levels, consistency, and the proper program. This means you can build muscle with pectus excavatum and get much more robust and fitter.

Working Out to Fix Pectus Excavatum

Proper exercise and training can reduce the need for surgery and improve the quality of life in people with pectus excavatum.

pectus excavatum bench press

Many exercises and types of training can improve pectus excavatum and nullify the symptoms, especially in less severe cases. 

You can improve your strength, posture, balance, and breathing and do cardio to maintain fitness, lung function, and a healthy heart.

Bodybuilding and Building Muscle With Pectus Excavatum

You can be a successful bodybuilder and stack on muscle even with pectus excavatum. You can even reduce the appearance of pectus excavatum by building a muscular body in balance. Here are some of the best exercises to improve this condition, focusing on strength, posture, and breathing.

pectus excavatum athletes
  • Pushups. These will improve the strength and stability of your pectoral muscles and can be done without equipment.
  • Chest fly. Another excellent movement for building strength and muscle in the chest and strengthening the chest cavity.
  • Rows. Rows are a fantastic exercise for strengthening your back muscles, which can improve posture and help prevent muscular imbalances. These can include cable rows, dumbell rows, or barbell rows.
  • The superman. Lay on a mat, face down, flat on the floor. Lift your arms and legs off the ground. Exhale as you hold the position and then lower limbs.
  • Chest expansions. This is a breathing exercise. Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, and breathe as deeply as possible, filling your lungs and chest. Hold for ten seconds, and exhale.

While these exercises focus on the chest and back, make sure you train in balance. This means working the legs and core and doing other complete body movements such as squats and deadlifts.

Bench Press and Pectus Excavatum

 Many people wonder if they can bench press with pectus excavatum. You can, and the bench press is an excellent movement for developing muscle in the chest and pecs and increasing strength and power. 

pectus excavatum and exercise

Do other weight training movements work your back muscles? 

Muscular imbalances can worsen the symptoms of pectus excavatum, so balance out bench pressing with ‘pulling’ exercises such as rows, pull-ups, and rear delt flies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does pectus excavatum affect athletic performance?

The condition can affect your cardiopulmonary output and lung capacity in severe cases. However, there is no evidence that the disease impairs strength or muscle-building.

Numerous other factors affect athletic performance that pectus excavatum will not hamper. These include reflexes and reaction time, technical skill, discipline, and more. With the proper training and mindset, it is possible to be a high-level athlete even with pectus excavatum.

How do I get ABS with pectus excavatum?

Although it may be slightly more complex, the principles of achieving a ripped 6-pack remain the same. Dial your nutrition and diet to lose body fat, engage in core activating exercises, and train full-body weight lifting movements such as squats and deadlifts.

Targeting your core and abdominal regions is one of the best ways to promote better posture, which can reduce symptoms of pectus. Even with the condition, you can do movements such as bridges, crunches, twists, and compound lifts.

Does pectus excavatum shorten life span?

Unfortunately, there is some evidence that people with severe cases of untreated pectus excavatum will have a slightly reduced life expectancy.

The severity of the condition plays a significant role, with problems more likely to arise in severe cases. This is why it is essential to do all you can to mitigate the damage that a severe case of pectus can cause; by exercising and living a healthy lifestyle.

Final Note

Even with Pectus Excavatum, it is possible to be a successful bodybuilder and athlete. Even with severe cases, people with the condition can still stack on muscle, get stronger, improve their cardio, burn fat and live a healthy, active lifestyle.

abs with pectus excavatum

Some say doing these things is critical if you have the condition, for they can mitigate and nullify many symptoms.

Train hard, eat right, and take care of your health. You owe it to yourself, and the results may surprise you.

Matt Mahony
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Matt Mahony

Matt Mahony has been a personal trainer for over a decade, helping people from all walks of life get in shape and stay healthy. He is originally from Portland, ME but now resides in Colorado. A self-proclaimed "gym rat," Matt loves nothing more than spending time in the weight room or on the basketball court.

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