Does Chest and Shoulders Circumference Eventually Stop Dropping in Size?



I have lost 75 lbs. over the last 3 years. I have dropped the weight slowly but steadily, and I like to think safely. I believe I have followed all sound medical advice thus far. I’ve reduced calories moderately, eliminated most starches and sugars from my diet, kept up with a steady cardio programme, which also included high intensity interval training sessions. I have also included weight resistance training, as well as doing my best to maintain an adequate amount of protein in my diet to limit lean muscle loss. I feel great. The blood work at my annual physical proved this careful attention to detail paid off, as my numbers have placed me firmly in the perfect health category.

My dilemma is this. I am presently about 22% body fat, and I would like to lose more weight. I’m thinking I need to lose about 35 additional pounds in order to achieve this goal when I take into account the amount of lean muscle mass that will go inevitably disappear with a 35 pound weight loss. My goal is to get down to, and maintain somewhere around15% body fat. I am 52 years of age, so I don’t believe anything lower than 15% body fat would be sustainable for a man of my age. I’d like to add that any lean muscle building I have achieved took far more work than if I was 30 years younger.

With that said, I’ve hit a plateau. No worries, I’ll get through it eventually. My question is this. My chest and shoulders feel virtually fat free (unlike my true waist), if I lose 35 more pounds and go from 22% to 15% body fat, will my chest and shoulders remain more or less the same size, or will they wither to a smaller circumference size than they are now. I lost inches off that part of my body during the first 75 lbs, but there was fat piled up on top of those muscles back then. I had to buy new clothes, of course, all through this weight loss journey, but I’m wondering if my neck. shoulders and chest size have now levelled out and any additional weight loss will be drawn from where the fat is, on the waist.

Thanks for any help or advice you can offer!


I don’t believe that sort of lean body mass loss is inevitable at all. I’m pretty sure @maxnas would be able to offer some advice.

Congratulations on sticking with it and shifting the weight at a sustained and sustainable pace. It seems to me that you’re ready to do some different transformation work now.


Thank-you for the reply! At 52, I can’t help but think my muscle building years are pretty much behind me. I try to offset as much muscle loss as nature allows, but I can’t help but think any mass weight loss of 50 pounds or more for any man over 50 will result in at least some atrophy. I try to eat as much protein as I can without throwing a proper balanced diet out of whack, and I make it into the weight room at least twice a week. Lifting iron is also something an older guy like me has to be careful with, so I stretch as much as I can before I begin lifting. I lost about 0.25 lbs of lean muscle mass for every 1.00 pound of total weight I dropped.

For the record, I am 6’ 0.75", 16 Stone (224 lbs.). My shoulders currently measure around at arm pits at about 51.5 inches. My chest measured around at nipples is 45.5 inches and my waist at navel is 40 inches in the morning and about 41 inches as the day goes on. My neck is about 16.66". That puts me in the vicinity of 25% body fat. When I was in my 20s I weighed 13 stone (182 lbs.), but I was also a bit taller then at 6’1.5". I don’t know what my goal weight should be, but I’m thinking I should weigh somewhere between 185-195 lbs. More importantly, I’d rather get my body fat percentage down to 15% and keep it there.

My shoulder circumference has gone down only about an inch since I weighed 21 stone 294 lbs., but my chest has dropped from about 53.5 inches to 45.5 inches. With that said, I am curious that if I dropped the body fat percentage which I aspire to, if I will continue to need buying smaller sized tops and coats. There doesn’t appear to be any more fat left on my chest, lats and upper back, and only about a half inch on my throat and neck. My true waist is at about 40-41 inches around at the navel, but I’m betting is should be about 34 inches if I want to have 15% body fat.

So, do you think my chest, back and neck muscles will wither and atrophise to a smaller size, while I am at the same time burning fat off my waist?



Welcome JJF!


I don’t have all the answers to your questions, I’m sure you’ll get other responses, but I can tell you my experience. I reject phrases like “At 52, I can’t help but think my muscle building years are pretty much behind me.” I’m 51 and started my fat loss journey about 2 1/2 years ago. I was able to drop from around 36% body fat to roughly 15%…without any lean muscle loss. In fact, I’ve gained 10 lbs of lean muscle on top of what I had. Yes, it might be a bit tougher to build muscle than someone in his teens or 20’s, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept muscle loss as inevitable. I am literally in the best body shape of my life. My chest is 41", my waist is 35", I am 6’ 1" and weigh 230 lbs. I really think your goal should be to continue to lose fat around your waist while maintaining your lean muscle mass, at least as much as possible. And you do that through resistance training and clean eating. I only work out 5 times a week for an hour - 3 strength training sessions and 2 cardio sessions. So focus more on the body fat % goal and yes, measurements, and less on the weight. The weight will drift to where it needs to be. So long story short, if you maintain your lean muscle mass and you feel like your upper body is pretty lean, then I wouldn’t expect to go down much in clothing sizes. But your clothing will fit you better. I recommend slim fit clothes that are broader around the shoulders and thinner around the waist.

Please see my blog article on the anti-aging benefits of strength training, and my post on losing weight through strength training.

Great progress, congrats! And good luck.


Hi @shrinkinguy and @JumpinJackFlash, I endorse everything you are saying and strongly believe you have many years yet, albeit more difficult than for the younger guns among our ranks, it will still be possible for you and others to develop muscle density.
As an overweight man several years older than you, I have returned to a sport/activity that I love, but had drifted away from for a few years. Whilst not measuring with intelligent scales my percentage muscle and fat, I an clearly see returning muscular definition in my quads, hamstrings and calf muscles. I can feel improved core or abdominal strength and aches and pains in my gluteus maximus indicating that hopefully something is going on there as well. Next year I celebrate? My 60th birthday and I have no intention of giving up the attempt to improve general condition and wellbeing. I wish I had found MvF earlier and had had not abused my health and body for so long, but I can make changes now, and I have no intention of letting anything stop me, at least without a bloody good fight. Keep going mate!


@biketester great post, and nice progress. I’ve read that it doesn’t matter what age you decide to become more active, it always has a benefit. Of course if you let yourself curl up and atrophy, at some point it will be too late. But that’s why we start while we still can!


@shrinkinguy. Thanks mate. The only frustration, is the realisation that in general, you cannot beat the times and achievements you managed 5 years ago. I need to travel new routes now to achieve best Strava times, which is a little difficult without travelling miles. Lol😅


Where do you have the most muscle mass, thighs? I am 6’, 35.5" waist, 41" chest and weigh 182 lbs. I am at 16.5% fat. You outweigh me by 48 pounds of muscle.


That’s a great question! I guess we’d need to do a full part-by-part comparison, but I can give you a few clues. Some of the difference is probably just in the method for determining bf % - calipers say close to 15% currently, whereas my Skulpt Chisel device puts it at around 21%, so I was rounding down :slight_smile: Perhaps the real value is in between, around 18-19%.

As for body part circumferences, I am at neck (16.5"), Bicep (15.25"), Chest (42"), Waist (39"), Hip (43"), Thigh (25.5"), Calf (16.5), Forearm (12.5"). So the numbers I stated were more off the top of my head, I had to look up the actuals. The waist might account for the most difference, since it looks like I have put on some extra weight there :pensive: I was quoting my pants size, I wear a 35/36. But 48 lbs is a big difference…


I’d like to refer back to my original question. For all you guys who have lost a lot of weight - more than 50-75 pounds - over an extended period of time, my question remains. When you reached the stage when the fat finally burned off your chest, back, shoulders and neck, but you still had some belly/hips fat to lose from your waist before reaching your ultimate goal, did the chest and shoulder size still continue to shrink as the waist proceeded to get smaller with fat loss? In other words, did the further fat loss around your waist also cost you muscle size in your upper body in addition to the fat you had already lost up there?

I am 6’ 0.75" tall and weighed 294 lbs. My suit jacket size was once 52 Long with a 50.25" measurement around my chest at the nipples. Much of this bulk consisted of fat tissue, not muscles. My abdominal circumference, then, was 50", as measured around the naval. My neck circumference was 19.25 inches, and my shoulders, as measured around my body at my delts was 51.5 inches

Three years later I weigh 224 lbs. I now wear a size 46 Long suit jacket. And while my belly still has some fat, my abdominal circumference is about 39.75 inches. However, my chest and shoulders seem to be all muscle with little evidence of fat, and my chest measures 45.25 inches and my shoulder circumference is 51". My neck is now 16.66". According to the US Navy website which uses a formula combining neck and waist size to determine body fat percentage, I’m running at about 24-25% At 52 years of age, I’d like to get my body fat percentage down to 15%. I believe my weight should get down to the 185-195 lbs range.

I’m tired of buying new jackets and tops, but I don’t mind purchasing new trousers and bottoms. If my upper body mainly consists now of muscle, will I continue to shrink in jacket/tops/shirt size as the remaining fat burns off my waist, or have my upper body dimensions hit their limit and levelled out, as the fat burn off my middle continues to drop my waist size?



It’s a good question, I’ve gone from 280 to 210, lost a lot of inches of my chest in the first 50lbs but it’s certainly slowed. I’ve lost half an inch in the last 20lbs. I’ve still got some loose skin though so suspect a couple of years down the line I may lose another inch


My guess is that if you continue to do upper body strength training, your upper body will somewhat remain the same and it will just be around your waist you will lose. If you don’t do upper body strength training, then your upper body measurements will go down along with your waist size.


Thanks, that’s the reply I was hoping for…Now I just have to keep going into the weight room a couple times a week…Never was my favourite place. I prefer cardio and swimming instead. But I know lifting iron is vital. Thanks again!