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Thread: Muscle Imbalance - How out of whack am I? page

  1. #1
    dgreenwood's Avatar
    dgreenwood is offline Senior Member
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    Muscle Imbalance - How out of whack am I?

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    I'm 6' 00" and weigh about 195 lbs which is about 15lbs of extra fat (I'm working on this, 15 years ago when I was in the military I was about 180 lbs and was in really good shape). I've lifted off an on my whole adult life and have better than average knowledge of weight training but have never been on a serious strength/size gaining program long term.

    I've recently been getting back into shape and that includes committing to weight training and doing all of the right exercises (I think)to add muscle. I've read Starting Strength and Stronglifts and am currently on my own program that is in line with these teachings.

    Like most casual lifters I haven't paid enough attention to lower body and back over the years and I'm trying to fix that but I'm wondering how imbalanced I am to the objective lifting enthusiast (you)?

    I'm currently doing a reverse pyramid type workout that could best be described as 4x"4to6" of each of the following exercises. I do this 2 or 3 times a week:

    Weighted Pullups= First max effort set is 5 reps with 15 lbs added to the belt.

    Bench Press= First max effort set is 5 reps at 195lbs (I think I'm going to go up to 205 next w/o).

    Power Clean and Press (from the floor each rep)= First max effort set is 5 reps at 115 lbs.

    Squat= First max effort set is 5 reps at 195. I'm not quite "ass to grass" but I put a lot of effort into going past parallel. A month or so ago I dropped a lot of weight off my squat to concentrate on going deep and building it back up.

    Deadlift= First max effort set is 5 reps at 205lbs. This is a relatively knew addition to my program and I've been gaining fast. I started at about 135lbs maybe a month or so ago.

    I then finish off with some calves or recently some triceps since they used to be a strength but seem puny since I stopped isolating them.

    If you're still reading, thanks. I know I write a lot, I'm an over-analyzer. I'm just curious what others think of my program and how bad is my imbalance based on my workout lift weights?
    Last edited by dgreenwood; 07-18-2012 at 07:01 PM.

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    Coach Palfrey's Avatar
    Coach Palfrey is offline Senior Member
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    Most people normally take their ratios from the deadlift as it's the strongest exercise you should have.

    Assuming the deadlift is at 100%, your back squat should be around 70% of that, bench press around 50-60%, your clean and press is tricky as it will be limited by the press and not the clean (but your oh press should probably be around 50%), pull ups at around 50%.

    This isn't an exact science but a reasonable approximation of what you might aim for.

    First reaction though? Your bench press strength is way out of whack with your deadlift and squat strength.

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    dgreenwood's Avatar
    dgreenwood is offline Senior Member
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    Yeah, I knew the lower body stuff was way behind, I guess that's why I started the thread. Thanks for the percentages, that really helps me to quantify the problem which is what I was looking for. I never felt like I over-emphasized push exercises vs pull exercises to get my bench higher than everything else but maybe I did subconsciously since guys tend to focus on bench numbers (and it used to be my weakness with long arms and a shallow chest cavity).

    The good news is that squats and deadlifts are out gaining upper body stuff by a wide margin so I'm heading in the right direction. I'm also probably a little tentative with lower body exercises because I'm not as comfortable with them since I obviously haven't done them as much. The weight feels really heavy and it seems like I'll hurt myself if I overdue it so I'm really focusing on form and developing confidence. I added squats before I added deadlifts and I think the deadlifts are now helping to improve the squats. I feel a lot more stable through the core when squatting than I used to.
    Last edited by dgreenwood; 07-19-2012 at 07:14 AM.

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    Another question I have is about weighted pullups. When is the right time to transition from regular pull ups to weighted? I don't feel like pullups are a strength of mine since I could probably do about 10 unweighted. I switched to weighted to keep the reps in line with my other exercises and also to allow me to drop the weight in subsequent sets as part of my reverse pyramid strategy (it's tough to reverse pyramid an unweighted pullup!).

    Did I do the right thing or should I have stayed with regular pulls until I got a little better at them?

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    That's what I wound up doing; once I managed 3 sets of 10 chinups I started doing weighted ones, but used sets of 5 like the rest of the SS program. Though I had a real hard time progressing 5lbs a workout using that scheme. What I've been doing is first 5 sets of 3, then 4 sets of 4 and finally 3 sets of 5, once I hit 3x5 across, I add 5lbs. Been doing it this way for a few months and have not missed a rep since, and making steady progress the whole way. Except the last rep at 35lbs last week, but I was working out in Aspen, CO; 8000' above sea level. The lack of air might have had something to do with it....

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    Coach Palfrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgreenwood View Post
    Another question I have is about weighted pullups. When is the right time to transition from regular pull ups to weighted? I don't feel like pullups are a strength of mine since I could probably do about 10 unweighted. I switched to weighted to keep the reps in line with my other exercises and also to allow me to drop the weight in subsequent sets as part of my reverse pyramid strategy (it's tough to reverse pyramid an unweighted pullup!).

    Did I do the right thing or should I have stayed with regular pulls until I got a little better at them?
    If you're doing them primarily for strength then weighted and around 5 reps is probably about right but the most important thing is that you're doing them.

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