Thread: Balance in Programs
12/15/2010 1:08am, #1
Balance in Programs
I suppose this is a bit more of a theory question than a practical one so really if you're new to working out as a whole you might want to look elsewhere. Go on... we'll wait. Are they gone?
I've been reading and watching a good deal about athletic/strength training the past few months and I'm noticing that a lot of the most highly respected programs (SL 5x5, Starting Strength, 5/3/1, etc) seem to approach the idea of "balancing" exercises in a way contrary to my intuition. They're the staples so there's a good chance there's something I'm not understanding, unless on the off chance I'm noticing something the authors don't.
I'm referring to balance in the sense of 1 horizontal pull for 1 horizontal push. Famously, people tend to **** their shoulders up by benching too much and ignoring the rest of their body. This is also almost certainly due to shitty form, so let's not leave that out of the equation. ANYWAY in many of these programs the balance is either not there or seems to not be symmetrical.
For example in 5/3/1 you have your main work exercise then 1 to 3 assistance exercises. The main exercise is done for the perscribed sets for the day, but are always with low reps and high weight. The assistance work goes into as high as the teens in reps even with a high number of sets to match. Clearly this is for a hypertrophy component (as explained by the man who made it) though it seems to me this really isn't a "balance" in an intuitive sense.
Is this a lack of education on my part? Is this simply an acknowledged risk that seems worth the result otherwise? I don't hear horror stories out the ass of people ruining themselves on these programs. You also have the crowd that originally coined the phrase "functional" (and now hate it) who may have a very different opinion on that sort of progamming, but I'm not even sure about that.
Last edited by Gypsy Jazz; 12/15/2010 1:12am at .
12/15/2010 1:30pm, #2
You gotta keep in mind that 5/3/1 was written by a powerlifter with the goal of increasing raw powerlifting numbers. There is no upper body pull competition in any sort of strength sport (crossfit games don't count), and thus there tends to be minimal emphasis on chin/row strength in many programs. Additionally, form on a maximal effort chin or row becomes horrible when compared to a bench or a press, because there are way too many variables to control and it is too easy to cheat. This is why most programs focus more on volume when it comes to pulling versus maximal strength.
You can get a balance in terms of muscular strength by employing heavier volume on pulling to compensate for the low volume and high intensity on pushing. Something I would do when I did Westside was 3 sets for ME work, 3 sets for supplemental lifts (some sort of upper body push), and then 6 sets for my pulling work."Emevas,
You're a scrapper, I like that."-Ronin69
12/17/2010 5:38am, #3
The lack of any upper body pull testing was something I guess I was aware of, but never actually realized. That certainly explains the focus on the competition lifts beyond the ego that's usually associated with some of them.
Just so I understand, is what you're saying that high volume work (more sets and/or reps) for a pulling movement with a comparitively moderate weight create a balance? I'm not talking about being able to row as much as you bench, just a body that without a muscular imbalance to the best of ones ability.
On an strictly intuitive level that doesn't quite make sense to me on the basis that mid-weight high volume pulling would have a stronger focus on mass building than pure strength. Of course one is almost never without the other.
I have this image of balancing something that is ultimately weaker vs something that is stronger where the stronger side would create an imbalance. Sticking with the bench/row, if you're benching huge weights and doing a few sets of inverted rows is that really going to create balance to prevent hunching forward?
This is of course strictly intuitive and I have no data to support the idea. It could a entirely be a lack of knowledge on anatomy. I'm really just trying to understand.
12/17/2010 8:09am, #4
If you're benching huge weights and ONLY doing a few sets of inverted rows, then yea, that's not going to create a balance. Effort will need to be placed into the pulling just like the pushing.
As you noted, higher reps produce mass and strength, while lower reps produce strength and mass. I've never trained any of my pulls for a heavy single, but I'm now at a point where my pulling strength is actually getting higher than my pushing in the rep range of 5-7, just from years of higher rep pulling. There will be some carryover, regardless of rep range.
It's simply something a trainee has to be aware of, and if need be, prehab exercises can be added into a program. Some face pulls or other rear delt work go a long way."Emevas,
You're a scrapper, I like that."-Ronin69