Below is a blog written by one of my first young athletes, Gunnar Anderson. He is interning with me this summer, and one of his duties is writing for my blog. I know that you all will learn to love this young man like I do.
The One Pec Wonder
By Gunnar Anderson
Everyone is born with limitations. They could be mental, it could be physical, but no one is perfect. I was fortunate to have a minor physical flaw: I was born missing one of my pectoral muscles.
Whenever you think of the chest, two muscles probably come to mind. But the chest is split in to four sections: there are two pec majors, and two pec minors. The pec minors start just below the collarbone and go down about two or three inches. The pec majors sit just beneath them and are what most people recognize when looking at the chest muscles. I was born without my right pec major.
In the grand scheme of things, it is a tiny defect; but, as you can imagine, it is an annoyance. I was very young when my parents first noticed it. When we went to the doctor to see what was wrong he told us that it was nothing to worry about and posed no threat. Jokingly, he added that I’d probably never be a bodybuilder.
When I was in elementary school it was barely noticeable. Even when I got into high school, you still had to look carefully to see that it was actually missing. When I was a freshman I joined the wrestling team. I wrestled at 135 pounds for quite a while. I was around 5’9” and gangly. Wrestling in such a low weight class kept me from putting on muscle mass and made me incredibly lean.
It wasn’t until I hit a growth spurt in my sophomore year that I began to gain weight. I moved up to the 145 pound weight classes, but I stayed lean. Unfortunately I was injured during my sophomore year and had to quit wrestling.
At this point I began weight training with Travis Mash. It started as injury prevention training to ensure I didn’t hurt my shoulder again, but he thought that I had potential and took me on as one of his first young athletes. As Travis and I worked together to improve my strength, my physique began to change dramatically. As I gained muscle mass, the missing pec became more and more noticeable.
In high school weight lifting classes, I had pretty much written off bench press and most other chest exercises as impossible feats for someone with only one full pectoral muscle. Travis quickly showed me I was wrong. He figured out that if I gripped the bar closer to the middle, my triceps and shoulders would compensate for the missing muscle. In no more than two weeks my bench press went from 135 pounds to well over 200 pounds. He focused our chest training around resistance bands and other unique training methods to account for my muscle structure. Eventually Travis got my bench press up to 295 pounds.
When I got into college, my goals shifted from strength to size. I graduated from high school at 175 pounds. By the end of my freshman year, I was just over 200 pounds (my parents blamed the “freshman fifteen”). As I put on muscle mass, my right pec minor became over developed due to the extra work it had to do to keep up. I focused on incline work such as incline dumbbell press, incline cable flys, etc. Working the upper portion of my chest allowed the lower portion grow at a slower pace, which for me was ideal for me. After my junior year of college I weighed almost 240 pounds(with a lot of muscle and a little fluff).
As I am almost ready to step into the working world, being big is no longer a priority; however I will always try to stay in shape. Although I never competed in bodybuilding, I worked as hard at it as those on stage. My missing pec would have taken away from my score, and I just didn’t have the desire to compete. I have accomplished all that I want to as far as strength gains and muscle mass. When I was at my strongest, my bench press was 345 pounds, which was more than I ever expected to do. Today due to hard work and determination I am blessed with a physique I never thought I’d have.