Tag Archives: balance

Take my strong hand!

Are you uneven?
 
While the pursuit of strength is the most important element of many good training programs there is a lot to be said for being aesthetically balanced.
 
Apart from looking symmetrical you’ll also be more protected from injury.
 
Typically you’ll find people have one strong and one weak side (often the hand the write with gets more development), this can lead to overall muscle imbalance which starts to take you down the winding road towards of poor posture.
 
It’s not uncommon to hear this little gem:
 
“I can do 10 reps with this weight on this arm but only 5 on my other one.”
 
Now since common sense has long since vanished from our world you’ll find people laugh at this and continue to work the stronger side harder than the weaker one because their idiots.
 
A nice tip I give people in response to this statement is this:
 
“Start with your weaker arm and max out the reps, them match it on your stronger one.”
 
This is often followed by confusion as they say ‘but I can do more on that arm.”, due inevitable face palm.
 
Aside from matching reps on both sides it’s also a good idea to use unilateral movements to even up muscle/strength imbalances.
 
Here are some examples:
 
– Dumbbell Pressing
– Dumbbell Rowing
– Lunges
– Single Leg Deadlifts
– Single Arm Pulldowns
 
You get the idea.
 
While it is true you won’t replace compound movements (bilateral) in terms of getting the most out of your workouts, it can be useful to add in periods where you focus on some unilateral movements as accessory work to help even out those lagging areas.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
 
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2 Reasons the average gym goer doesn’t need to isolate the front deltoid

It’s common place to see people doing front raises in the gym, even though for them it’s essentially a pointless exercise.

I’m not saying it’s a bad exercise, far from it, some top lifters need it as an assistance movement for what ever specific reason, however the average gym goer who has a program heavily biased towards pressing and anterior chain movements DOES NOT need to be doing front raises.

Before we go on let us have a look at some of the exercises that recruit the front deltoid.

  • Presses (pretty much all of them)
  • Bear crawls
  • Planks
  • Sled pushing

The main function of the anterior deltoid is shoulder flexion — lifting your arm up and to the front of your body. So any movement that involves this hits it, make a note.

That’s the first reason you don’t need to isolate this muscle.

The second is because daily life is heavily anterior chain dominant, here is a short list of daily living movements that cause a short/tight/over worked front delt and also high pecs too.

  • Sitting at a desk
  • Eating
  • Driving
  • Playing computer games
  • Putting things on shelves

You get the idea. Life is heavily biased towards overworking what are known as ‘tonic muscles’ of the body and rarely have you stimulating the phasic ones (posterior chain).

For the average person Id recommend having some form of reverse fly in every session and perhaps a lateral raise movement in each pressing session, I can’t remember the exact studies, I apologise, however on average the lateral delt has 2/3 the development of the front and the rear was barely scraping 1/3 of the front delts growth.

You’d also do well to chuck in face pulls, bat wings (isometric holds) and resistance band pull apart drills in your daily life (say 50 pull-aparts per hour and 60 seconds bat wing).

This simple information will help you balance the entire shoulder, it will also help improve your posture and look 100% better, no one likes a round shouldered look, its weak and prone to injury.

Enjoy,

Ross

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Time to Balance

As Christmas day draws nearer and the new year is literally around the corner I feel it’s a good time to start looking at some potential goals for next year, especially those surrounding balanced strength in certain lifts and even across the board if possible.
 
The lifts I want to draw your attention to are the following:
 
– Front Squat
– Behind Neck Press (It’s not dangerous if done correctly)
 
Exercises that when strengthened to their ideal ratio to their counterparts provide excellent strength/hypertrophy progress.
 
When people speak about squats it’s often the back variety in a high bar position (across the traps) typically, unless said person is a power lifter in which case they will opt for low bar (across the rear debts). When looking at your typical squat you should find your front squat hitting around 85% of that number. Yep, 85%. If you do 3×100 on back squat then you’d want to be hitting 85×3 on front squat.
 
A strong front squat will not only make your back squat feel easier, it will give you tremendous strength through the quads, core and upper back because of having to hold the front rack position. You will also find that the front squat has more athletic crossover as well.
 
If you haven’t really done much in the way of front squat then fear not, I will put up a simple progression method/workout below to help you improve these two lifts.
 
Time to discuss the much fear Behind Neck Press. There are a lot of people who claim this will destroy your shoulders and if the movement is done incorrectly and you have poor posture then they’re right, however if you take some time to iron out some kinks and improve your mobility/flexibility/form so you can perform this pain free with full ROM you will find your shoulders thank you in the end.
 
The lift we will be basing your BNP off of is your close grip bench press. You should look to be pressing 66% of your CGB in the BNP, so to put some numbers to that, if you CGBx6x100 you should be able to handle 66kg for 6 in the BNP. If you can this shows a healthy balance in your shoulders and chances are you will be injury free for the most part.
 
*If you are looking for where I go this info you will find it in the writings of a great strength coach by the name of Charles Poliquin, you might have heard of him.
 
Here’s a small excerpt from ‘The Poliquin Principles’ it’s well worth purchasing – https://www.scribd.com/doc/57908561/Charles-Poliquin-The-Poliquin-Principles
 
Now I said I would give you a simple method/workout to help you progress these, here it is (it’s a modified Hepburn method, check out Doug Hepburn’s writings, they hold a lot of great tips).
 
 
^^ A starting point for info on Doug.
 
First things first, the parameters of the workout:
 
– Establish 3RM for Squat and CGB then take the required % of those numbers for your FS & BNP (85%, 66% – You can go for 65% or 70% if you hate funny numbers).
 
– Take 10-20% off the weights you should be using for FS & BNP, starting out lighter will benefit you in the long run and allow you more room to progress and groove the movements/from. Leave your ego at the door.
 
– Train 3xP/W (2x FS/BNP sessions, the other session can have deadlift, dips, filler lifts etc, there will be an example of this)
 
– Start each compound lift at 1×3 & 7×2, add a rep every session until you hit 8×3 (should last around 4 weeks), once you hit this go back to 1×3,7×2 but increase the weight on said lift. Repeat to make all the gains (Y).
 
– Accessory Lifts: Have a pulling movement – say chin up) in-between each set of FS/BNP in a jump set fashion, it will look like this: A1 FS – Rest 60 seconds, A2 Chin Rest 60 seconds, A1 FS, and so on.
 
Here is how the workout high look:
 
Monday: Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
A1 – FSQ 1×3,7×3
A2 – Chin x6-8
B1 – Bnp 1×3,7×2
B2 – Chest Supported Row x6-8
C1 – Optional Isolation lift on weak body part (calves, rear delts etc)
 
Wednesday: Rest 60-90seconds betweens sets.
A1 – Deadlift Ramp to 2RM, back off for 5x2x85-90% daily max.
B1 – Dumbbell Incline Press 3-6×6-8
B2 – Face Pull x8-12
C1 – Dips 6×6-8
 
Friday: Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
A1 – FSQ 2×3,7×3
A2 – Pull Up Peg Grip x6-8
B1 – Bnp 2×3,7×2
B2 – Pendlay Row x6-8
C1 – Optional Isolation lift on weak body part (calves, rear delts etc)
 
^^ Notice the 1 rep progression on the main compound lifts (FS/BNP).
 
You will find this is quite a nice little change from your standard training and helps you bridge those strength imbalances.
 
Any questions simply leave a comment down below.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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