In fact, judging by pectoral size, proportion and details–with a few exceptions–today’s bodybuilding elite have lesser chests than the very best of the ’70s and ’80s. For that reason, only two current competitors made it to our top 10. Present professionals such as Johnnie Jackson and Branch Warren would have made a top 20, but so would lesser knowns from yesteryear such as Josef Grolmus and Tyrone Youngs.
So why were the top chests better in 1974 than in 2010?
In two words: free weights. Many current champs rely on machines for the bulk of their sets, but most of the pecs on our honor roll were built the old-fashioned way–with flat and incline barbell presses, dumbbell flyes and dips. Time has yet to improve on barbells, dumbbells and parallel bars for constructing a thick, powerful, finished chest.