PT on the Net Research

Training with No Pectoralis


I am a newly certified personal trainer, and I am looking for some advice/guidance. I have a client who is missing muscle. Her pectoralis major on her left side did not grow. However, her minor is available to develop. So my question is this: should I leave out chest development training, reduce it, modify or develop the side she has? So far, I have had her try light cable flies and use punching techniques on the bag to keep her chest busy but not to focus on what she does not have. I am curious as to how her body will adapt to these new exercises as she has never been in a gym before. Do you have any advice as to some techniques or exercises I could use to help maintain her interest?


Thanks for your question! Although when first presented with structural abnormalities, this may seem difficult, it’s really simple because it’s their structure. Always follow a YOU vs. YOU approach while applying principles and concepts of function. Function is individually defined (you vs. you). Please read the known facts regarding function (applies to all of us within degrees):

  1. 3-dimensional
  2. Overcoming gravity
  3. Ground reaction forces
  4. Mobility-stability system
  5. Subconscious
  6. Speed continuum
  7. Always changing
  8. Injuries change function – but it still happens
  9. Symmetrical and asymmetrical
  10. Path of least resistance
  11. Influence one plane and you will influence the other two
  12. 3-dimensional fitness (cardio -> flexibility -> strength)
  13. Driven by intrinsic and extrinsic influences
  14. Transformation (load to unload)
  15. etc.

Taking the facts above and your question, here’s your solution. The pectoralis muscle is one of the many contributors to 3-dimensional movement. Therefore, don’t focus on the muscle as NO muscle works in isolation (muscles react - they don’t selectively contract during subconscious movement)! Muscles all work as synergists to decelerate before they accelerate motion. Your focus should be on performing various motions that contribute to your client’s life – not building muscle in an isolated region (which doesn’t help with LIFE function). So, analyze what movements she performs throughout her day (squatting, lunging, stepping, pushing, pressing, pulling - combinations) then assess her ability to perform them 3-dimensionally followed by creating a program that builds on her success. Example, if she performs a standing pull exercise (which eccentrically lengthens the pec region) successfully but has trouble pressing, then focus on the pulling action. This eccentric lengthening may proprioceptively assist in the pressing action as time progresses. See the Exercise Library for a list of movements that correlate to your client’s everyday movements. If you have further questions, feel free to ask.