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Is a 42 inch chest big for a man who lifts?

Discover how big a 42 inch chest really is and learn what a 42 in chest actually looks like.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 6th June 2022
A man getting his 42 inch chest measured

Is a 42 inch chest a good chest circumference measurement for a man who lifts weights? That’s the question I’ll be exploring today. And, as usual, the answer depends on a few different factors, mainly your height, build, muscularity, and body fat level.

See How Your Chest Compares:

Is a 42 inch chest big?

A man showing that his 42 inch chest is big

Is a 42 inch chest big for a man? A 42 inch chest is a fairly average size for a man who lifts weights regularly. So while a 42” chest is definitely not small, such a measurement isn’t exactly big either.

That said, if you have a lean and muscular 42 in chest, that’s always going to look visually better than a flabby 42 inch chest without any muscle definition. This is especially true because when you have a low body fat level, your pecs will look more separated from your upper abs, which will make them appear more prominent.

Now, if you’re pretty tall, then there’s really no way that a 42” chest is going to look big. Muscular? Yes But big? No, not if you’re tall. This is because when you have a long torso/ribcage, your 42 in chest is essentially stretched out over a larger surface area, which ultimately makes it look smaller and less bulky.

On the other hand, shorter people who have a 42” chest can look pretty big because their muscle mass isn’t so stretched out; it’s spread over a much more condensed surface area.

What size is a 42 inch chest in men’s clothing?

A man with a 42 inch chest shirt size

A 42 inch chest is equal to a size large in most men’s clothing brands. If you’re measuring yourself for a shirt, however, then you might want to take an inhaled measurement so that you have more breathing room, which could mean moving up to an XL.

What size is a 42 inch chest in women’s clothing?

A woman measuring her 42 inch chest

In most brands of women’s clothing, a 42 inch chest or bust is equal to a size 16, which is classed as a size large. The specifics can certainly differ by brand and by garment type, but this is a fairly accurate general guideline.

What does a 42 inch chest look like?

A man showing what a 42 inch chest looks like

So, what does a 42 inch chest look like on a man? It mainly depends on the body fat level of the man in question, although height and build are important as well.

If you take two men who have a 42 in chest—let’s say a chubby fella and a lean and muscular male weight lifter—the leaner guy is always going to have the better-looking chest. This is simply because a bigger majority of his chest mass consists of muscle tissue as opposed to fat.

Now, what many people don’t realize is that your bone structure and back muscles have a massive influence on your chest size.

So, in theory, you could have tiny pecs but a massive ribcage (i.e., if you’re really tall but don’t work out). In this scenario, you’d have a big chest circumference but not a lot of actual pectoral muscle mass.

By the same token, some lifters have a 42 inch chest due to having a wide back. So while their circumference measurement is pretty respectable, their chest development could be severely lacking.

How to grow your 42" chest

A man doing a wide grip bench press

Although there are plenty of lifters who don’t have a 42 inch chest, a lot do. So if you’re training to be above average, it can make sense to grow and expand your 42” chest into a larger measurement.

While many people can build a 42 inch chest by just doing push-ups, lifting weights, and specifically performing the bench press is the way to go if you want to grow your 42 inch pecs as efficiently as possible.

To stimulate the broadest possible variety of muscle fibers, you’ll want to include 3 different movement patterns in your chest routine: A flat or decline press, an incline press, and some kind of fly.

So, if it were me, I’d do low rep flat presses with a barbell, moderate rep incline presses with dumbbells, and then high rep flys with cables or on a machine.

Of course, you can use dumbbells for all the exercises if you want. This is just what I recommend seeing as most lifters thrive off having plenty of training variety in their workout.

Similarly, there’s no need to do flys to build your 42 inch chest. If you do them with dumbbells, then they’re redundant anyway (if you do DB presses). I recommend reserving flys for machines and cables because they enable you to achieve a really strong peak contraction in your pecs, which is something that bench presses don’t provide.

In terms of diet, it can definitely be beneficial to gain a small amount of weight—by eating in a moderate calorie surplus—when you’re trying to bulk up any body part. Just don’t go overboard; otherwise, you’ll gain chest fat rather than chest muscle.

In conclusion: How good is a 42 in chest?

A man showing his 42 inch chest size

A 42 inch chest is good. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a 42” chest (or any other chest size, for that matter) unless it’s indicative of a problem. So providing that your 42 in chest isn’t a symptom of you being overweight, it’s nothing to worry about.

Also, you shouldn’t feel pressured to expand your 42 inch chest just because you’ve seen loads of bodybuilders on the internet. While some hardcore weight lifters may say that a 42” chest is small, that’s just not true, especially considering that most people who have chests that are bigger than 42 inches have them because of excess body fat (i.e., not because they’re super-duper muscular).

Of course, if you like developing your physique and lifting weights, then there’s also nothing wrong with trying to sculpt a bigger chest. My advice is to enjoy the training and let the gains take care of themselves.

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.
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