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George Launchbury
12-14-2007, 02:23 AM
Hi everybody,

I started doing some scaled WODs a while ago with a friend of mine. The weird thing was that the differences were so great in terms of upper-body strength in different planes.

This got me thinking about 'planar strength', and how I might set up a checklist to test with from time-to-time, to make sure any imbalances I'd improved on didn't get out of whack again. For example, I can do 20 pushups, but only 9 body rows ...an article by Ian King said that they should be approximately the same!!

My basic OCD-style hopes are for a neat array of figures. All strict movements, as although I can see the training advantage of kipping, I prefer to test strict.

Two possible formats are:

HSPU: . . . . . 5. . . . . vertical push up
Pull-ups: . . . 10. . . . .vertical pull down
Dips: . . . . . .10. . . . .vertical push down
Body rows: . .20. . . . .horizontal pull
Pushups: . . . 20. . . . .horizontal push

...or...

HSPU: . . . . . 5. . . . . vertical push up
Pull-ups: . . . 10. . . . .vertical pull down
Dips: . . . . . .15. . . . .vertical push down
Body rows: . .20. . . . .horizontal pull
Pushups: . . . 25. . . . .horizontal push

I have 'pushing' slightly elevated on the latter because a) on Crossfit, Tony Blauer said a few times that 'extensors beat flexors', and b) on the same set structure, my dips are improving faster than my pullups, even though I do those second (they started at the same amount).

Look forward to any input anyone might have.

Regards,
George.

Allen Yeh
12-14-2007, 04:49 AM
Hi everybody,

I started doing some scaled WODs a while ago with a friend of mine. The weird thing was that the differences were so great in terms of upper-body strength in different planes.

This got me thinking about 'planar strength', and how I might set up a checklist to test with from time-to-time, to make sure any imbalances I'd improved on didn't get out of whack again. For example, I can do 20 pushups, but only 9 body rows ...an article by Ian King said that they should be approximately the same!!

My basic OCD-style hopes are for a neat array of figures. All strict movements, as although I can see the training advantage of kipping, I prefer to test strict.

Two possible formats are:

HSPU: . . . . . 5. . . . . vertical push up
Pull-ups: . . . 10. . . . .vertical pull down
Dips: . . . . . .10. . . . .vertical push down
Body rows: . .20. . . . .horizontal pull
Pushups: . . . 20. . . . .horizontal push

...or...

HSPU: . . . . . 5. . . . . vertical push up
Pull-ups: . . . 10. . . . .vertical pull down
Dips: . . . . . .15. . . . .vertical push down
Body rows: . .20. . . . .horizontal pull
Pushups: . . . 25. . . . .horizontal push

I have 'pushing' slightly elevated on the latter because a) on Crossfit, Tony Blauer said a few times that 'extensors beat flexors', and b) on the same set structure, my dips are improving faster than my pullups, even though I do those second (they started at the same amount).

Look forward to any input anyone might have.

Regards,
George.

In regards to the body row and push up thing that is subject to debate as I've seen different figures from different coaches. IMO A better comparison would be push-ups with your feet on a incline, and body rows with the same.

I'd also be more inclined to compare ring dips and pullups than regular dips and pullups. If rings are not accessible, I'd definitely up your dip numbers.

Charles Poliquin had a good article a few years back talking about upper body balance. If I get a chance later today I'll dig it up for you.

Garrett Smith
12-14-2007, 05:26 AM
I've gone so far as to add the opposing "pull" to a dip, where I'm in an inverted hang on the parallel bars and I do "pullups" from that position (bending the arms to raise the body).

Also, there is behind the body. I pretty much do isometric-type exercises for that, by doing back planks (push) and modifications to back levers (pull).

I'd say just do work on all the planes, get them all stronger.

George Launchbury
12-14-2007, 06:34 AM
Thanks Guys,

Allen:
Following your post, I tracked down some some stuff by Poliquin regarding strength percentages. Very interesting (if a little complicated).

I do have some Elite Rings. In your opinion, would there then be a good balance of the pullups:dips ratio if done on the rings? I guess that would then mean a progression to muscle-ups eventually! :eek:

Did you have any views on the ratios of strength between moving horizontally and vertically?

Also, do you mean elevating the feet to hand height for the rows, and using the same elevation for pushups? Or elevating the feet to halfway, so that each movement has elements of decline/incline in terms of pull/push direction?

Garrett:
Thanks for your reply also ...I have considered all of these things (and many more - linear planes, rotational and mixtures in every concievable axis), but my brain nearly melted! :)

The main concern I have about your suggestion of working on all planes and make them stronger, is that it doesn't sort out the imbalances I currently have, and as I get stronger the imbalance-related injuries might ensue!


Regards,
George.

Garrett Smith
12-14-2007, 10:04 AM
George,
Don't go melting your brain, it's not worth it...that very reason is why I love the CA WOD so much--I get to stop thinking!!!

If you have known imbalances, my suggestion would be to do extra work on the "weak" sides, while doing a minimal amount of maintenance work on the "strong" sides.

All that being said, training in those four push-pull planes will balance most stuff out eventually, IMO. If you haven't seen it already, I have examples in my training log of my gymnastics "holds" and "moves" workouts. My pushups are full-depth on parallettes, my body rows have recently been switched elevating the feet close to hand height. I may not be totally "balanced" according to some strength coaches, however, I'm progressing on everything slowly and steadily. If I had glaring weaknesses, I would surely address them, however, I just don't see or feel them.

Steven Low
12-14-2007, 12:57 PM
Testing high rep movements tell you pretty much nothing. Just that you have better endurance on one side than the other.. doesn't *necessarily* make you stronger.

Biggest things to look for are (1) posture and (2) muscle mass. You can usually tell if someone is on the road to injury by looking at anterior vs. posterior muscle mass and extensive kyphosis/rounding in the shoulders.

Other than that it's pretty hard to imbalance the lower body much unless you're doing only to parallel squats as your only leg exercises. Upper body is the main problem for most people.

Build your workout routines to have pretty much 'evenish' push and pull, although if you oly lift then you probably won't need it directly even. Verticle pulling, by the way, is an internally rotating exercise because as the lats grow they start to internally rotate the humerus (causing a short and tight subscapularis as opposed to a weak infraspinatus and teres minor). Just a bit of food for thought on why you might want to add a little extra work for the infraspinatus and teres minor if you're not doing too much rowing and oly lifting. Best test for this I saw on a t-nation article is to basically put two pencils in your hands and let your arms hang naturally -- if they're pointing in more than 45 degrees you probably want to start working your external rotators a lot more. They should optimally be pointing straight ahead..

Also, there is also the issue of scapularly balanced exercises which horizontal push/pull both exaggerate tightness with retracted depressed scapulae. Basically this means you should definitely have some type of upward pushing/isometrics movement like overhead squats or overhead shrugs.

George Launchbury
12-14-2007, 03:21 PM
Hi Guys,

I think you both rang true with me on figuring out the visually 'lacking' elements in terms of muscularity and posture ...and they are where the weak numbers currently lie as well:

...Rowing movements and strength above head.

The upshot seems to be a case of getting to know my body, rather than relying on numbers to tell me how I'm shaping up.

Incidentally, I read that article on t-nation the other day, and my pencils were pointing at about 30deg in from straight ahead!

Thanks again,
George.

Gant Grimes
12-16-2007, 11:29 AM
Best test for this I saw on a t-nation article is to basically put two pencils in your hands and let your arms hang naturally -- if they're pointing in more than 45 degrees you probably want to start working your external rotators a lot more. They should optimally be pointing straight ahead..

Dammit. I just took the test and passed with a D-. Not good at all (right at 45 degrees). I do the CA WOD, so I should have enough pulling in there. Should I stretch more or add even more pulling exercises?

Steven Low
12-16-2007, 11:42 AM
Dammit. I just took the test and passed with a D-. Not good at all (right at 45 degrees). I do the CA WOD, so I should have enough pulling in there. Should I stretch more or add even more pulling exercises?
Well, at least they're not pointing towards your body, lol. It is possible to get 90 degrees on this test. -_-

Oly lifts definitely help a lot for external rotators. I'm sure yours are somewhat fairly strong because of this. First thing you should do is try to stretch out the subscapularis with door stretches and maybe use some resistance and just externally rotate your hand outwards so the pencils point out towards the sides. If you need specific work on external rotators after that sure.

Garrett Smith
12-17-2007, 05:31 AM
High face pulls and wall slides.

Mike ODonnell
12-17-2007, 06:27 AM
Dammit. I just took the test and passed with a D-. Not good at all (right at 45 degrees). I do the CA WOD, so I should have enough pulling in there. Should I stretch more or add even more pulling exercises?

Go hang a rope from a tree and climb it once a day....you'll get strong enough. Also skip the bench and do pushups daily (even if just 10-15) with elevated handles and by retracting your scapulas back every time you go down....good stretch and ROM development....my shoulders feel 400% better with just that simple daily routine.

John Alston
12-17-2007, 07:15 AM
Hi everybody,

For example, I can do 20 pushups, but only 9 body rows ...an article by Ian King said that they should be approximately the same!!



I don't know who Ian King is but I don't recommend using an articles, or other people's "shoulds"
Ultimately you're going to have to set your own goals. What are they? Is Ian King someone who's proven success in relation to your goals? Otherwise, meeting his balances could be a waste of time.

-Ross Hunt
12-18-2007, 07:16 PM
It might be worth emphasizing that balancing pushing and pulling exercises may be less important than balancing internal and external rotation of the shoulder joint and elevation and depression, protraction and retraction of the scapulae.

What does all that mean: The answer to the shoulder pain you have from bench pressing isn't chin-ups, or rows without pulling the shoulder blades back: Both of those exercises involve internal rotation. The answer is shoulder horn exercises. Similarly, overhead push training is not bad for your shoulders; if you do it properly, elevating the scapulae on each rep, it might even help. Many oly lifters do high volume of upper body pushing work (jerks, push-presses, presses, overhead squats, and snatches) with little or no conventional upper body pushing work to balance it out--but they spend all their time pulling the shoulders back during the pull and elevating them during pulls and overhead work.