Vince, help! I have a problem. I'm 5'10" tall and weigh 203 pounds. I've been training for three good years, three times per week, faithfully. I am well pleased with my general shape (apart from my short thighs, but there is nothing I can do about that). I have reasonably good cuts, but I am short of muscle size and definition on the lat, intercostal tie-in.
I do lots of bench (47" chest) and have good lat size ('V' shape), but it all falls away under my arms and side chest area when I do a front lat spread. I am male - white, and 26 years old. Please help.
Stop right there. I don't need to know your life story - or your color. What you are trying to tell me - I think is that you lack that highly prized muscle group known as the serratus. I call them the 'jewels of the chest." You're right in thinking that without them the lat spread looks all wrong. Ask Bob Kennedy. He will agree 100%. He says that their visual prominence, or otherwise, is a good indicator to overall body definition and fat levels. He also says (quite rightly) that the serratus above all, add that finishing touch of quality to a physique.
To build them you must include Gironda dips to your workouts, twice weekly. Do you know what they are? No? Well they are dips that are wide enough to enable you to get a good stretching action at the bottom of the movement, and a contraction at the top. They are best done on a V-shaped dipping bar - but not necessarily so. Just make sure that the bars are at least 32 inches apart. Be sure to mentally tense the serratus hard on each rep. Use a weight if you are strong enough, but aim for 8 sets of 8 reps. Drop your chin to your chest with the upper back rounded. Elbows must be straight out to the sides.
Two others you should include later are the straight, single-arm pulldown to the side and dumbbell pullovers. Pullovers can be done over a bench to get maximum stretch. Again, make sure that you tense the serratus at the top of the movement. That's how to build them. To show them - diet!
(Musclemag Magazine May 1991)