Home   |   Contact   |   Help

Get Our Newsletter
Sign up for our free newsletter to get training tips and stay up to date on Catalyst Athletics, and get a FREE issue of the Performance Menu journal.

Go Back   Catalyst Athletics Forums > Training > Fitness, Strength & CrossFit

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-14-2007, 02:23 AM   #1
George Launchbury
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Default Basic testing for upper-body strength imbalances...

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.
George Launchbury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2007, 04:49 AM   #2
Allen Yeh
Senior Member
 
Allen Yeh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 4,245
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Launchbury View Post
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.
__________________
"And for crying out loud. Don't go into the pain cave. I can't stress this enough. Your Totem Animal won't be in there to help you. You'll be on your own. The Pain Cave is for cowards.
Pain is your companion, don't go hide from it."
-Kelly Starrett
Allen Yeh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2007, 05:26 AM   #3
Garrett Smith
Senior Member
 
Garrett Smith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 4,368
Default

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.
__________________
Garrett Smith NMD CSCS BS, aka "Dr. G"
RepairRecoverRestore.com - Blood, Saliva, and Stool Testing
My radio show - The Path to Strength and Health
Garrett Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2007, 06:34 AM   #4
George Launchbury
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Default

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!

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.
George Launchbury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2007, 10:04 AM   #5
Garrett Smith
Senior Member
 
Garrett Smith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 4,368
Default

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.
__________________
Garrett Smith NMD CSCS BS, aka "Dr. G"
RepairRecoverRestore.com - Blood, Saliva, and Stool Testing
My radio show - The Path to Strength and Health
Garrett Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2007, 12:57 PM   #6
Steven Low
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,091
Default

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.
Steven Low is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2007, 03:21 PM   #7
George Launchbury
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Default

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.
George Launchbury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2007, 11:29 AM   #8
Gant Grimes
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,373
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Low View Post
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?
__________________
"It should be more like birthday party than physics class." | Log | 70's Big
Gant Grimes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2007, 11:42 AM   #9
Steven Low
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,091
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gant Grimes View Post
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.
Steven Low is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-17-2007, 05:31 AM   #10
Garrett Smith
Senior Member
 
Garrett Smith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 4,368
Default

High face pulls and wall slides.
__________________
Garrett Smith NMD CSCS BS, aka "Dr. G"
RepairRecoverRestore.com - Blood, Saliva, and Stool Testing
My radio show - The Path to Strength and Health
Garrett Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:26 AM.

Powered by vBulletin Version 3.6.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Subscribe to our Newsletter


Receive emails with training tips, news updates, events info, sale notifications and more.
ASK GREG

Submit your question to be answered by Greg Everett in the Performance Menu or on the website

Submit Your Question
WEIGHTLIFTING TEAM

Catalyst Athletics is a USA Weightlifting team of competitive Olympic-style weightlifters with multiple national team medals.

Read More
Olympic Weightlifting Book
Catalyst Athletics
Contact Us
About
Help
Newsletter
Products & Services
Gym
Store
Seminars
Weightlifting Team
Performance Menu
Magazine Home
Subscriber Login
Issues
Articles
Workouts
About the Program
Workout Archives
Exercise Demos
Text Only
Instructional Content
Exercise Demos
Video Gallery
Free Articles
Free Recipes
Resources
Recommended Books & DVDs
Olympic Weightlifting Guide
Discussion Forum
Weight Conversion Calculator