Sample Blog: Strength Ratios and Structural Balance, Pt 1

By Chris White
When it comes to strength development and injury prevention balance is key. I don’t mean ‘balance’ in the sense of being able to squat standing on a Swiss Ball or do a Single-Leg Dead lift. The balance I am referring to is the balance of strength between muscles groups and how these strength ratios correlate to benchmark lift performance, namely the Deadlift, Back Squat, Front Squat, Strict Press, Bench Press, Clean, Snatch, and Clean and Jerk. Let me explain.
Having a 400lb Bench Press but barely being able to do 5 Chin-ups is an imbalance of epic proportions. Super human pressing strength coupled with the pulling strength of a Kindergardener is a recipe for injury. Interestingly, not only do glaring imbalances between muscle groups increase your likelihood of injury at specific joints they also limit your ability to improve the very lifts that created the imbalance to begin with. In other words, the weaker your pulling strength relative to your pressing strength the less likely you’ll be to make further gains in the bench press or overhead press.

Training should have direction. The very meaning of the word ‘training’ implies a purpose. Find a weakness, fix it. Simple.


Below is a working list of Strength Ratios I use to direct my strength/power training and avoid imbalance or over-development of one pattern.
Exercise Ideal Strength/Power Ratio
1RM Back Squat      80% 1RM Dead Lift
1RM Front Squat      85-90% 1RM Back Squat
1RM Overhead Squat (OHS)      65-70% 1RM Back squat
1RM Strict Press      60-65% 1RM Bench Press, 70-75% Push Press
1RM Close-Grip Bench Press      90% 1RM Bench Press
1RM Clean       70-75% 1RM Dead Lift
1RM Snatch      90-100% of OHS, 80-85% 1RM Clean and Jerk
I suggest you determine each of your benchmark lifts and then calculate how they relate to the corresponding ratios above. If you discover a glaring imbalance shift the focus of your training to that lift until the ratio is within range.  
In part 2 of this series we’ll discuss how accessory muscle imbalances like weak shoulder external rotators or poor trunk stability, can derail strength/power development in specific lifts and simple exercises to correct these imbalances.


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