The Critical Body logo

Is a 36 inch chest small?

Find out what size a 36 inch chest is and discover if it's small for your height and build.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 6th June 2022
A male measuring his 36 inch chest

If you're wondering what size a 36 inch chest is and whether it's big or small, then you're in the right place. This guide discusses all the ins and outs of having a 36" chest and what it means for your body.

If you already know how to measure your chest size accurately, then keep reading to learn how your 36 in chest stacks up.

Compare More Chest Sizes:

Is a 36 inch chest small?

A man showing his small 36 inch chest

Is a 36 inch chest small for a man? Yes, in general, a 36 inch chest is definitely small for an adult male and for some teenagers. It depends on your height, to be sure, but in most cases, a 36" chest is definitely on the small side for men.

The taller that you are, the smaller your 36 in chest will naturally look. This is because when you have a long torso, your body mass is effectively stretched out over a longer surface area, which makes your chest look thinner.

On the other hand, if you're relatively short, then your 36 inch chest will look a bit bigger (but not exactly big). Similarly, this is because when you have a short torso, your body mass is naturally compressed over a smaller surface area, making body parts such as your chest appear bulkier.

Additionally, tall people tend to have larger rib cages than shorter people. So if a tall person and a short person both have a 36" chest, the short person will look more muscular because more of their chest circumference will consist of muscle tissue as opposed to bone mass.

What does a 36 inch chest look like?

A man showing what a 36 inch chest looks like

In general, a 36 inch chest looks quite small and skinny on a male physique. But your body fat level can also greatly affect how lean or fat your 36 in chest actually looks.

If you have a relatively low body fat level, then your 36" chest might have some pretty good muscle definition, which could make it appear bigger than it actually is.

On the other hand, if you have more of a skinny-fat physique, then your chest won't look as aesthetic because a larger proportion of your chest will be made up of fat as opposed to muscle mass.

So, in summary, the 3 things that affect the appearance of your 36 inch chest are your muscle mass, body fat level, and bone structure (height and ribcage size).

What shirt size is a 36 inch chest?

A man getting his 36 inch chest measured

What size is a 36 inch chest? In the vast majority of men's clothing brands, a 36 inch chest is equal to a size small in shirts, t-shirts, and jackets.

What size is a 36 inch chest for a woman?

A female getting her 36 inch chest measured

For women's clothing, a 36 inch chest or bust is usually classed as a size medium and a size 10-12. In some brands, a 36 inch chest may be classed as a size 8-10.

How can you expand your 36" chest?

A man performing some compound exercises

I get it. It seems like every guy has a buff chest these days, and here you are with a "puny" 36 inch chest. Well, did you know that a 36" chest, although small, is actually a pretty common size for a young man or a teenager?

Knowing this, you shouldn't feel bad about yourself just because you have a 36 inch chest. After all, you're definitely not the only one in this situation.

Still, if you want to expand your 36 inch chest, this is what you do: Train your chest 1-2 times per week with weights or 2-3 times per week with bodyweight push-ups.

Either option works fine. Push-ups are much more convenient because you can do them at home, but weights will enable you to keep gaining size for longer. So if you want to expand your chest to over 40 inches, then bench presses are the way to go (although given enough push-ups, you can get similar results without weights).

Training your chest is simple, so you don't need any fancy programs. If I was starting with a 36 inch chest and really wanted to grow, I'd do 4-5 sets of dumbbell presses followed by 2-3 sets of wide-grip push-ups. Initially, I'd do the workout once per week.

Then, once the muscle soreness dies down and I gain some initial strength, I'd bump up my training frequency to twice per week to take the gains to the next level.

I'd also make sure to do pull-ups (or pulldowns) and rows to build my back, seeing as a wide back will naturally expand your chest measurement.

On the diet side of things, you want to eat in a moderate calorie surplus so that you can slowly increase your body weight.

Eat enough protein to repair your damaged muscles, but don't think that more protein is necessarily better. Many experts recommend consuming around 1.8g per kilogram of body weight, which is actually quite high, and you can likely grow optimally while consuming less than this if your calories are high enough.

The verdict: Is it okay to have a 36 in chest?

A skinny man showing his 36 in chest

Yes, it's absolutely fine to have a 36 inch chest! The only time that having a 36 in chest is bad is if it's indicative of you being underweight.

This could well be the case if you're tall with a 36" chest, but if you're of a normal height or are still a teenager, don't worry about it.

It's normal to be self-conscious about your body, but you should take comfort in the fact that a) loads of people have a 36 inch chest, and b) you can quite easily bulk up your chest by doing push-ups and bench presses. So it’s not like you’re stuck with a 36 in chest forever.

James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
chevron-upmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram