The Force is constantly out of balance. First Anakin was supposed to bring balance, but he turned into a cyborg sociopath. Then Luke was meant to bring balance; he screwed the pooch as well though. Now here we are hoping Rey is able to put a US Marine in his place and finally balance the damn thing out.
The above is a serious imbalance in a galaxy far far away a long ass time ago. The imbalance I'm about to help you correct is a whole lot simpler and straight forward.
It's the balance of strength and function between the front and back of your upper body. If you have a serious imbalance, you may be suffering from postural discomfort, pain, or significant stalls in your training. You don't need a Jedi to solve this, all you need is basic knowledge of the push:pull ratio.
What the ratio means
Vertical and horizontal pushes and pulls are what you should be counting when it comes to your upper body ratio.
You may have noticed some training plans online are broken up into three separate training days: push day, pull day, and legs day. The push and pull days refer to the upper body.
Pulling muscles are those that help you pull. They're located on the back.
Pushing muscles are the muscles that help you push. They're located on the front side of the body.
In order to maintain a balanced posture and ability, the front and back of the upper body need to be somewhat even in strength and capability.
Sloped shoulders? You may be doing too many pushes and need to add in more pulls.
When things are stronger one way or another, you see people with posture that just doesn't look right, not to mention their ability to apply force AKA strength.
All training plans can be broken down in a ratio of push related to pull to see where their focus is. You just count the pressing movements and pulling movement, then reduce the fraction. Don't freak out, I know fractions are intimidating, it's typically really small numbers like 4:4 or 8:6. We just reduce those down to 1:1 and 2:1.5 respectively.
For instance, the Mighty Fit plan is a 1-to-1 push-to-pull ratio. That very simply means that for every push exercise that you do, you also do a pull exercise.
How/Why to move to a 1:2 Push:Pull ratio
Time to add in more pulls. Horizontal 1-arm rows are a great exercise to help balance out an overactive chest.
If your chest and front delts are particularly large and tight, they will pull your shoulders and scapulae forward and give you that rounded upper back look. Strengthening your back muscles like your lower traps, rhomboids, and lats will bring some balance into your posture and relieve you of any discomfort.
Training all chest and sitting at a computer all day is a very common lifestyle for most of us. I'm guilty of it, and just about every peer of mine in the Marine Corps was the same.The easiest way to correct an upper-body imbalance is to change your push/pull ratio. If you have forward shoulders from sitting at a computer all day, switch to a push/pull of 1:2. Do one push exercise for every two pull exercises.
How/Why to move to a 2:1
If your back is overactive and tight, often seen in surfers, your shoulder blades will be pinched together, and chest will be open. This is from a strong back and a weak front. Presses and push-ups will bring balance back into this person.
If your job has you hiking a lot, you may be used to having your shoulders pulled back and together. If your nipples are facing the sky or you can barely get 2-3 fingers between your shoulder blades, this is you.
Changing your push:pull ratio to 2:1 may help your chest take some control in your upper body.
In addition, when you do conduct pull exercises, ensure that you are allowing your shoulder blades to move with the movement. Don't lock them back and together (like you do in heavy bench presses with your back pinned into a bench).
Now apply this ratio to you
The biceps are actually a pulling muscle and the triceps are a pushing muscle. Check out the arm primer article for how to train these further.
If you have mild pain, discomfort, or a noticeable strength imbalance your first step to remedy things should be to change your push:pull ratio. It's a simple solution to a problem that will prevent some "bodywork expert" from getting involved. You have the power, and now, the tool to bring balance to your internal upper body force production.
In the Mighty Fit plan, there is a pressing movement everyday set up as a push/pull set that is paired with a pulling movement. You'll gain ample size and functionality in your upper body over the duration of the plan. If you are starting from a place of imbalance now you have all the information you need to change the plan to suit your exact needs; add a push or pull!
If you haven't started the Mighty Fit plan yet...what are you waiting for? Click the link in the left navigation bar of this site page.
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