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  • Achieving Proper Strength Balance

    Hey guys,
    So after reading many threads on this board about injuries and muscular strengths and weaknesses I’ve come to wonder, “What is a healthy strength balance?” Should I row as much as I bench? Should I stiff leg deadlift 80% of what I front squat? I believe that many injuries could be avoided If you had a good balance in strength.

    In Charles Poliquin’s ‘Achieving Structural Strength’, he explains how correcting for imbalances in upper body strengths allowed him to bring a hockey players bench press up 50 lbs over 12 weeks without having him do a single bench press rep. CP found that the hockey player had very weak upper arm external rotators. In his methods, he describes how your other upper body lifts should compare to your 14” (close grip) bench press 1RM. This is his table with the client’s expected strength values based on a percentage of CGBP 1RM.

    Close Grip Bench Press
    Absolute score: 160 kg (352 pounds) Relative score: 100%

    Incline Barbell Press
    Absolute score: 133 kg (293 pounds) Relative score: 83%

    Supinated Chin-Ups
    Absolute score: 130 kg (286 pounds) Relative score: 81%

    Behind-the-Neck Presses
    Absolute score: 102 kg (224 pounds) Relative score: 64%

    Scott Barbell Curls
    Absolute score: 74 kg (163 pounds) Relative score: 46%

    Standing Reverse Curls
    Absolute score: 48 kg (107 pounds) Relative score: 30%

    External Rotation SA*
    Absolute score: 15 kg (33 pounds) Relative score: 9%

    Based on his findings, are you guys balanced in your upper body strength?

    Are there strength balances we should achieve in other muscle groups?

    In this culture where everyone has one goal of more mass, perhaps we should be stepping back and accessing our imbalances more carefully.
    Wanna save 5% on your trueprotein orders? Use my code! CTN001

  • #2
    Originally posted by chris.tan View Post
    Hey guys,
    So after reading many threads on this board about injuries and muscular strengths and weaknesses I’ve come to wonder, “What is a healthy strength balance?” Should I row as much as I bench? Should I stiff leg deadlift 80% of what I front squat? I believe that many injuries could be avoided If you had a good balance in strength.

    In Charles Poliquin’s ‘Achieving Structural Strength’, he explains how correcting for imbalances in upper body strengths allowed him to bring a hockey players bench press up 50 lbs over 12 weeks without having him do a single bench press rep. CP found that the hockey player had very weak upper arm external rotators. In his methods, he describes how your other upper body lifts should compare to your 14” (close grip) bench press 1RM. This is his table with the client’s expected strength values based on a percentage of CGBP 1RM.

    Close Grip Bench Press
    Absolute score: 160 kg (352 pounds) Relative score: 100%

    Incline Barbell Press
    Absolute score: 133 kg (293 pounds) Relative score: 83%

    Supinated Chin-Ups
    Absolute score: 130 kg (286 pounds) Relative score: 81%

    Behind-the-Neck Presses
    Absolute score: 102 kg (224 pounds) Relative score: 64%

    Scott Barbell Curls
    Absolute score: 74 kg (163 pounds) Relative score: 46%

    Standing Reverse Curls
    Absolute score: 48 kg (107 pounds) Relative score: 30%

    External Rotation SA*
    Absolute score: 15 kg (33 pounds) Relative score: 9%

    Based on his findings, are you guys balanced in your upper body strength?

    Are there strength balances we should achieve in other muscle groups?
    In my opinion, if you're talking about athletes, it's less about how much force you can produce, especially in lifts that athletes never perform on the field/court/ice, but rather how they actually move. Something like a Functional Movement Screen, I think tells a more important story as you'll see functional limitations and asymmetries. A trained strength coach can then introduce corrective exercise to restore movement patterns based on any deficiencies found. How often does a hockey player on the ice complete a movement like an incline barbell bench press? Not saying that it's not important to build those muscle groups. But what does that tell us about how the athlete moves or how balanced he/she is? Also, those numbers don't show any movements of the posterior chain, which is more important for most athletes IMO....although maybe you're just showing us a small number of lifts he's evaluating so it may be different if there were a bunch of others included.

    Originally posted by chris.tan View Post
    In this culture where everyone has one goal of more mass, perhaps we should be stepping back and accessing our imbalances more carefully.
    Totally agree there Chris. Amongst the populations similar to those on this board (bb'er, pl'er, gym rat), the most common errors I think are, in no particular order:

    1. Excessive volume
    2. No fluctuation of training stress and/or deloading periods
    3. No attention to injury prevention/prehab (includes tissue work, mobility, etc)
    4. Too many machines and not enough free weights
    5. Lack of balance around the joints
    6. Lack of attention to recovery/regeneration protocols
    7. Only thinking about lifting and cardio
    8. Improper or lack of proper warm-up
    Last edited by Knickerbocker24; 07-11-2011, 11:25 AM.

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    • #3
      Knickerbocker,
      The Functional Movement Screen you talk about seems like it would be useful. Is there away that someone could do this on their own so they could assess their weaknesses?

      The exercises in the article were only upper body. I think it was just a straightforward way to explain his system.

      I think that many of us come from athletic backgrounds. Where playing sports can definitely keep you in great shape and help you develop a good strength base, I think sports can also lead to huge imbalances. Think about how many athletes favor one extremity. Baseball, one throwing arm; soccer, one foot; basketball, one shooting arm. Theres got to be some way to self evaluate.
      Wanna save 5% on your trueprotein orders? Use my code! CTN001

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by chris.tan View Post
        Knickerbocker,
        The Functional Movement Screen you talk about seems like it would be useful. Is there away that someone could do this on their own so they could assess their weaknesses?
        The FMS is a system that many college and professional sports teams do either in strength and conditioning environments and rehab settings. It was designed by physical therapist Gray Cook and was designed to identify functional asymmetry and limitations in movement patterns. It has a number of different movements that the participant completes, and another person would rank them based on quality, ROM, pain during movement, etc. It gives you a total number, but it also gives a list of corrective exercise for each specific deficiency. It's not that hard to learn, but you'd need at least two people, one tester and one participant. I'm not certified in it, but have completed the test on a number of athletes. Here's the link to the website if you want to read up on it.

        http://www.functionalmovement.com/

        Originally posted by chris.tan View Post
        Where playing sports can definitely keep you in great shape and help you develop a good strength base, I think sports can also lead to huge imbalances. Think about how many athletes favor one extremity. Baseball, one throwing arm; soccer, one foot; basketball, one shooting arm. Theres got to be some way to self evaluate.
        Overhead athletes certainly present some challenges in the shoulder which we've talked about just a few days ago on another thread. But, when it comes to functional asymmetry and movement patterns I'd argue that strength training, if not done correctly, has a much more significant impact on creating imbalances. If you look at any sport, athletes actually spend much of their time on one leg. Acceleration, deceleration, jumping, throwing, tackling, etc., all the ground based sports spend a lot of time on one foot, transferring power from the ground up. To me, that's somewhat analogous to single leg training, which is used predominantly to iron out asymmetry. But, the movements that athletes perform on the court/field/ice are usually movements that occur in life, just at a greater speed. But, to take a person off their feet, lay them down on a bench, and have them repeat a heavy load at a slow pace repeatedly is something that never occurs in nature, other than in the gym (bench press). So, take someone like a bodybuilder, who does no athletics, and have no desire for function on the playing field, and spends all their time building those big muscle groups, but ignores balance, mobility, ROM, and correct movement patterns etc. and you will develop someone with a lot of balance issues, but a really pleasing physique

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