Questions about push/pull balancing

Ask or answer questions, discuss and express your views

Moderators: Ironman, Jungledoc, darshana, stuward

User avatar
KenDowns
Advanced Member
Advanced Member
Posts: 1415
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:48 pm
Location: New York, USA
Contact:

Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by KenDowns » Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:39 pm

Up until now my strategy for balancing push/pull is "do chins on press day, rows on bench day." I'm wondering if I need to go any further with that now that I'm on 5/3/1 and accessories come into the picture.

So for press, I do the 5/3/1, then 30 chins, then a press variation. It seems silly to get too hung up in trying to balance tonnage, intensity and so forth, so if I'm doing 30+ chins and 40+ presses between 5/3/1 and accessories, is that pretty much good enough?

For bench, I do the 5/3/1 and 25 more accessory bench reps, but only the 5/3/1 for row. So I've got more than 2:1 push to pull for both reps and tonnage. This seems more out of whack, is that anything to worry about? (NOTE: I'm making great progress on rows treating it as a main lift and would much prefer to keep doing that for as long as it works)

Finally for lower body:

1) Is deadlift really a pull compared to squat's push? Does just doing both create the balance?

2) If not, is something like GHR a true lower body pull, and should I be looking to add something in to maintain balance?

3) This is really questions 1 and 2 restated again, but right now I'm loaded up with lower body push accessories, doing Bulgarians twice/week on top of squats and a pause squat variation. Am I ignoring pull in lower body?

Oscar_Actuary
Veteren Member
Veteren Member
Posts: 2406
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:12 pm

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:01 pm

Your squats are a lot of pull (hip). Most anything like the Bulgarians too, are going to have both knee and hip aspects, determined by the width of the split and the depth of the move. IMO, you could as easily wonder if your quads (pushing) are getting enough. I sorta think a combo of Front Oly style squatting, and RDL is a good Push Pull Balance. Or Maybe mix some regular Deads to get more Glute and offset all the Hammy. Brett Conteras has good write ups on the glute/ham/quad balance and what does for what. Some here have said, say you have weaker quads, well, then in a proper squat, they will get worked and come up to balance. Improperly form though, you probably make it worse, favoring the stronger muscles.
I know KPJ, Bob, and others like to pull more times than push. I think they mean in terms of frequency/volume, with some consideration for tonnage, but that is more variable (i.e. you do what you can). Seems a therapeutic thing, and KPJ says to push like a powerlifter, and pull like a body builder, I think. I interpret that as higher intensity on Pushing, and more reps on Pulling. Nothing kpj has said has lead me astray.
I don’t know 5/3/1 in detail of course, but could you not add accessory pull on Row day, like you have accessory pushing on press and bench day?

robertscott
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 4424
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:20 pm

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by robertscott » Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:31 pm

whilst balancing push/pull is a good rule of thumb for upper body, it kinda breaks down for lower body.

Think of lower body as needing to be balanced hip:quads. What I mean is, for every squat type move, do a hip/hamstring move. So balance squats with deads, lunges with step ups, leg press with GHRs etc.

Obviously there's a bit of overlap (squats work your hams/glutes, deadlifts work your quads etc) but the general rule still stands. Balance every quad dominant move with a hip dominant one.

User avatar
Jungledoc
moderator
moderator
Posts: 7578
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:11 am
Location: Kudjip, Papua New Guinea

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by Jungledoc » Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:39 pm

If you're going to treat rowing as a "main" lift, with 5/3/1 progression, you need some row accessory work, too. I hate to suggest adding another lift, but following the heavy row (or even on a different day) with 5x10 light rows would help. That's pulling like a BB.
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

Paperclip
Associate Member
Associate Member
Posts: 335
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:21 am
Location: Indonesia

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by Paperclip » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:19 pm

I might be talking out of my a$$ here but I don't think that people need to obsessively "balance" push-pull or if they indeed can really do it. That being said, we need to prevent the hip from being tilted to one "side" (posterior or anterior) and make the scapulae in the correct position. For both, it's in my opinion that (heavy) deadlifting (with scapular retraction at the top) might already be sufficient especially if the person in question don't have any problem in those areas in the first place.

Of course you can also throws pulling movements for good measure and to further strengthening the pulling muscles or to train the movements. Also the posterior deltoids in majority of cases need to be focused if they are expected to keep up with the anteriors.

robertscott
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 4424
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:20 pm

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by robertscott » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:22 am

Paperclip wrote:I might be talking out of my a$$ here but I don't think that people need to obsessively "balance" push-pull
just wait til you hurt your shoulder. Then you'll see...

Paperclip
Associate Member
Associate Member
Posts: 335
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:21 am
Location: Indonesia

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by Paperclip » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:59 am

robertscott wrote:
just wait til you hurt your shoulder. Then you'll see...
I've already injured my shoulders from doing jerks....

User avatar
KenDowns
Advanced Member
Advanced Member
Posts: 1415
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:48 pm
Location: New York, USA
Contact:

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by KenDowns » Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:01 am

@Doc, I don't think it's the end of the world to add some volume work on rows. On that particular day the workout might run long, but otherwise the program is under control.

@Oscar, @roberscott and @paperclip, your various answers make me realize I'm really kind of clueless as to what leg muscle is dominant in a particular exercise. I've always relied on the exrx.net catalog of exercises, but what people say here in the forum seems to be different. Exrx says Squat is a quad exercise, with hams being a stabilizer, while Oscar says its a lot of hams. Just one example, I see that a lot. Is there a different source for understanding what muscles are dominant in a particular lower body exercise, or there some key to reading the exrx.net directory that I'm missing?

User avatar
stuward
moderator
moderator
Posts: 6616
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 5:44 pm
Location: Halifax, NS

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by stuward » Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:52 am

KenDowns wrote:...or there some key to reading the exrx.net directory that I'm missing?
ExRx Glossary wrote:Stabilizer

A muscle that contracts with no significant movement to maintain a posture or fixate a joint.

Dynamic Stabilizer

A biarticulate muscle that simultaneously shortens at the target joint and lengthens at the adjacent joint with no appreciable difference in length. Dynamic stabilization occurs during many compound movements. The dynamic stabilizer may assists in joint stabilization by countering the rotator force of an agonist. See example diagram: Hamstring weakness regarding hamstring's role in knee integrety (during squat or leg press)
Consider the way that the hamstring moves in a squat. It's shortening at the hip and lengthening at the knee at the same time. Therefore, regardless of how much it's involved in the squat, it's still a stabilizer, although it should say it's a dynamic stabilizer.

There's lots of good stuff on the site if you dig into it a bit. http://exrx.net/Kinesiology/Squats.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In my opinion, a squat can be more quad dominant or more ham dominant depending on how you do the exercise but never as ham dominant as deadlift variations. The 2 muscle groups always work together in compound movements so you're always going to get crossover.
Stu Ward
_________________
Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
_________________
Thanks TimD

User avatar
KenDowns
Advanced Member
Advanced Member
Posts: 1415
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:48 pm
Location: New York, USA
Contact:

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by KenDowns » Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:16 am

Stu, I understand what it is saying, but I think I may have some preconceived ideas that are getting in the way of making use of the info.

I tend to think in terms of "target" muscle - which I know is over-simplifying. I also tend to think in terms of whether a muscle is "getting hit" by an exercise. So squats hit hip adductors, hamstrings, glutes, and quads because they all contribute to getting you out of the hole and back upright. That's how I tend to think of it.

Where I'm completely lost is whether it even makes sense to say that squats hit your quads harder and deads hit your glutes harder. If that is true, how would I know that from the exrx.net directory?

As you can see, I'm still struggling with exactly how to ask the question. But I think if somebody can help me through this part we'll be closer to the answer to my OP.

User avatar
stuward
moderator
moderator
Posts: 6616
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 5:44 pm
Location: Halifax, NS

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by stuward » Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:47 am

KenDowns wrote:...
Where I'm completely lost is whether it even makes sense to say that squats hit your quads harder and deads hit your glutes harder. If that is true, how would I know that from the exrx.net directory?
...
You can tell tell that from the directory itself by the body part that you clicked on to get there. For example, starting with Quads, the squat page is this one: http://exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/BBSquat.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; When you go to the Squat page, it has a link in the comments at the bottom "Also see Squat for Targeting Glutes " which links to the powerlifting squat. That page has a reverse link called "See Squat for targeting Quadriceps". That powerlifting squat can be reached from the "Glute" section of the directory. There are no squat exercises linked to from the Hamstring section but there is a note at the bottom: "See Gluteus Maximus and Erector Spinae for similar exercises." It seems a little convoluted but there is a logic there.

Sometimes there is no difference between 2 exercises:
http://exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/TBSquat.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://exrx.net/WeightExercises/Gluteus ... Squat.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The only difference is the title but that's a typo. They even have the same picture. The differences in the text are trivial. The target vs synergist depends solely in your intent.
Stu Ward
_________________
Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
_________________
Thanks TimD

robertscott
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 4424
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:20 pm

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by robertscott » Sat Oct 15, 2011 12:02 pm

Paperclip wrote:
robertscott wrote:
just wait til you hurt your shoulder. Then you'll see...
I've already injured my shoulders from doing jerks....
oh yeah I forgot your training had an Olympic focus. Well the point still remains, doing more pulling than pushing will keep your shoulders happy as a clam. It's not just about what you do in the gym, modern day posture of sitting hunched over a computer (like you're doing right now reading this) gives people protracted shoulders. Doing loads of rows can help counter this.

$h1t posture coupled with the worldwide bench press obsession has made for a lot of shoulder pain. Get pulling!

robertscott
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 4424
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:20 pm

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by robertscott » Sat Oct 15, 2011 12:05 pm

Ken - I'm here to help you my man

quad dominant:

-all squat variations
-all lunge variations
-leg press
-leg extensions

Hip/ham dominant:

-all deadlift variations
-step ups
-GHRs
-leg curls
-Olympic Lifts (pulled from floor; pulling from a hang tends to put the focus more on upper body...)

Oscar_Actuary
Veteren Member
Veteren Member
Posts: 2406
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:12 pm

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:39 pm

Oscar never said nor meant to imply Squats are Hammy dominant, in any variation. I said that is you combine Front Squats and RDL <-- those are hammy, and Front Squats are more Quaddy (less Hippy than Powerlifting Back Squats), then mix in some Full Deadlifts, to get more Glute work. I wasnt really putting together a 3 move program, just saying that diff moves hit areas more. But not that the Squats were Hammy Dominant.

Personaly, I do
Mon: Split Sgl Leg Squats (lite)
Wed: Low Bar Back Squat (Heavy), Glute Thrust (3 x 12)
Sat: Deadlift (Heavy), Low Bar Back Squat (3 x 12)

Paperclip
Associate Member
Associate Member
Posts: 335
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:21 am
Location: Indonesia

Re: Questions about push/pull balancing

Post by Paperclip » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:52 pm

robertscott wrote:
oh yeah I forgot your training had an Olympic focus. Well the point still remains, doing more pulling than pushing will keep your shoulders happy as a clam. It's not just about what you do in the gym, modern day posture of sitting hunched over a computer (like you're doing right now reading this) gives people protracted shoulders. Doing loads of rows can help counter this.

$h1t posture coupled with the worldwide bench press obsession has made for a lot of shoulder pain. Get pulling!
Probably I didn't convey what I wanted to say clearly earlier (as I tend to do) but what I mean is that we can't really know if we already have enough pulling, like if we do X amount of pushing then we must do Y amount of pulling. I think a posture assessment might be a better indicator if we need more "pulling". If it's deficient then of course we should first correct the problem.

Some powerlifters and olympic weightlifters rarely do upper body pull exercises but none among them has forward posture/winged scapulae/kyphosis/etc. The reason is because they pick up weights from the floor a lot. That's why I said that deadlifting may be enough to strengthen the upper back/scapular muscles. It's also strengthen the glutes, which when they are weak, are commonly associated with anterior pelvic tilt. Of course you can add horizontal pulling if you bench a lot and feel the need to balance it out.
KenDowns wrote:
Where I'm completely lost is whether it even makes sense to say that squats hit your quads harder and deads hit your glutes harder. If that is true, how would I know that from the exrx.net directory?
Ken, you can know which muscle group works harder in a multi joint exercise by looking at the distance each joint must travel. So for example in a conventional deadlift we compare the knees vs the hips angle:

Image

We can see from the pic above that the hips must travel further than the knees from the starting position to the final position, therefore the hip extension muscles do more work.

This may be an oversimplification but I think it's makes sense.

Post Reply