Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


From the archives : Structural Balance Test
Written By : Scott Bird

PreachingI’ve received quite a bit of feedback about this series, so I’ve decided to make it a regular thing. Each Sunday I’ll be taking a look at one of my favourite pieces from this site’s archives; complete with my current thoughts on the topic. First up, a look at an article which had everyone testing their progress : Achieving Structural Balance.

Achieving Structural Balance

One of the key areas in training for any strength sport – particularly Powerlifting – is the identification of weaknesses, and their correction. With several muscle groups working together in a number of major exercises, the strengthening of any that are holding things back can make a massive difference.
Charles Poliquin‘s article Achieving Structural Balance looked at several key indicators in upper body strength. Accordingly, many of us took a look at our own lifts. The fact that my stats from July 2005 (noted below) now look ridiculously light is testament to one thing : Poliquin is definitely on the right track.

Structural Balance Test

As with nearly everyone else who read the Charles Poliquin article ‘Achieving Structural Balance‘ that Alberto linked to recently, I was forced to find out my own current stats. As I rarely do the exercises listed (apart from the weighted chin-ups and the occasional close-grip bench) I decided to devote tonight’s workout to finding out a few near-maxes.
The results :
Bench press (close grip) 10@20/44, 5@30/66, 5@40/88, 5@50/110, 3@60/132, 3@65/143, 3@70/154, 2@75/165
My usual grip is a little over 15″, so I moved it in a bit for this workout. Felt pretty good – might keep the narrower grip.
Bench press (incline – 45deg) 5@40/88, 2@50/110
Target: 62.25/137
Haven’t done this for months, and the last couple of times were only at a 15 degree angle. Looks like time to start working those shoulders nice and heavy.
Behind-the-Neck press 10@20/44, 5@30/66
Target: 48/106
Yep, definitely time to work those shoulders.
Preacher curl 10@20/44, 5@30/66, 2@40/88
Target: 34.5/76
Not bad, although I would like to get past 2 reps.
Reverse curl 5@20/44, 1@30/66
Target: 22.5/50
Another pass.
External rotation 5@6.5/14
Target: 6.75/15
Think I’ll have to try a few of these when I’m fresh. Even so, I wasn’t going to get all that much heavier.
Overall it looks as though shoulders are my weakness (at least according to this article). Expect to see a lot more shoulder hammering in future workouts.

The current situation

Whilst the weights have certainly increased, I haven’t tested my maxes in some of those lifts for quite some time. After re-reading this, I’ll devote an upcoming workout to doing just that.

The lower body

One of the things I noted at the time – and which would still be extremely valuable – is a similar reference for the lower body. If anyone has their own thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them.

A final thought

Poliquin’s article really brought home just how important it is to identify your weaknesses, and correct them. A few small changes to your routine can make an enormous difference.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



NB : if you love talking about strength-training as much as I do, you might also like to check out the weekly newsletter (there's also a daily version available). A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.


What's This?

Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

images of strength

'Napalm' Jedd Johnson.
Want to see (and learn) more Feats of Strength like this? Dive in.

Just Joined Us? Try These.

There are some incredible writers on the team here. To give you an idea, check these out :

If you enjoyed these, check out the complete ‘Best Of Straight to the Bar‘ list. Fantastic.

setting up a home gym?

If you’re getting ready to put together a solid Home Gym (fantastic thing), here’s how.

For more, swing by the full guide. Absolutely free.

And of course, you’ll find everything you need over in the SttB Strength Store. Massive range.

Ever Tried Kettlebells?

If you’ve seen people using them but never taken the plunge yourself, here are the ones I use personally. You can also pick up a book/DVD/course if you want to learn how to put them to work.

Ready To Learn Even More?

I love learning new skills, and the many seminars & workshops available are a great way to do that. If you’re looking for a specific type of workshop nearby, check out the ones on Dragon Door. Great mix of kettlebell and calisthenics-based offerings.

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program.

If you’re a fitness professional and love the Precision Nutrition approach, check out their certification offering. To say it’s comprehensive is an understatement.

Wherever You Are, We Are.

In addition to the main site, you can share your strength-training passion with a like-minded community on :

Wherever you like to hang out, get your regular dose of strength. Straight to the Bar.

Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via Twitter, Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.