Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength

HELPING YOU GET STRONGER SINCE 2004

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.

Cheers.

 

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.

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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.
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