Disclaimer and My First Advice: Muscle Imbalances

Note: Any training opinions I give on my blog are designed for: 1) competitive raw, drug-free powerlifters. 2) people who want to be very strong.  With #1 taking clear priority. My opinions are not designed for: 1) people who vainly want to look “muscular” or “ripped” (beyond the basic desire to not be a disgusting fatbody or famished twerp)  2) athletes in sports I know nothing about training for e.g. baseball, track, speed-skating etc. 3) athletes in sports I know a little about training for, but don’t care to address because it’s been done to death elsewhere: e.g. grappling, football, military training 4) injured people – if I say foam rolling is for pussies and weirdos (which it is) and your physical therapist wants you to foam roll for your sciatica, who should you listen to?  The guy making 100 K a year?  Or a random stranger on the internet?  5) drug abusers – everything works if you take enough juice.  6) geared lifters – yes I’m sure you are quite strong underneath that kevlar denim supersuit.  No really, I care…

Also, while I do have a CSCS and various crappy powerlifting records and trophies, I do not recommend that you take my advice as I’m 1) perhaps dangerously mentally ill 2) a random guy on the internet 3) possibly lying to mislead my enemies who are everywhere. 4) intentionally insulting and trollish to get people to read my drivel

I used to be very concerned about muscle imbalances.  From reading bodybuilding magazines, I learned that you must do hamstring exercises in a no less than 1:1 ratio to quad exercises.  Since squats were a “quad exercise” and I didn’t know about stiff-legged deadlifts that meant a lot of leg curls.  Later, I learned that both squats and regular deadlifts work the hamstrings adequately.  Also, endless sets of (worthless) laterals and bent-over laterals to balance all the pressing I did.  Standing presses work the lateral head enough, and various pulls and rows, do the rear just fine.

Now it is the 21st century and I see pencil-neck trainer/therapists on T-Nation and elsewhere blathering on about thoracic imbalances and so forth.  I don’t even want to get into the sodomy and malfeasance that goes on in the commercial gym that I train at in the name of warmups/prehab/rehab/sports specificity/high-tech wizardry.  It is too depressing.

This is not to say that you cannot mess yourself up by being “imbalanced”.  For example, I knew a guy who bench pressed every day and never trained back and he ended up with a hunched forward posture and eventually a bum shoulder.

How to avoid the mostly imaginary syndrome of “muscle imbalance”:

  1. Do a variety of multi-joint free-weight exercises and learn to do them properly.
  2. Work in all four upper-body planes – Vertical Pull/Push & Horizontal Pull/Push (i.e. Chinup, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Row)  (about the only useful thing I learned from my Ian King book and not exactly an earth-shatterer)
  3. Do various band pulling exercises for your shoulders.  This is something you can do for 5 minutes after a workout or at home.  I hesitate to even mention this because band pulling should not consume your every waking hour or replace actual work. This is good : http://articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/band-pull-apart-super-series-for-healthy-shoulders/
  4. Shut up and get stronger.  Do you think Goerner worried about muscle imbalances?  Shit, I dunno, maybe he did.
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