For every action there is always an opposing reaction. Simple physics but honestly how often do you think about this when you’re training? You want great results when you train. That’s why you pour yourself into it and wake up at crazy hours. But what if you’re actually creating unintended results?
If your training isn’t balanced, if your training ratios aren’t equal you could be training yourself towards an injury. The majority of injuries for athletes happen because of muscle imbalances and if you have an imbalance you probably trained it into existence. All of your purposeful hard work may have actually resulted in that nagging injury you have!
If balanced training is so important what are the training ratios that need to be monitored?
Your training ratios break down by movements and any exercise you do can fall into one of the categories so it’s easy to check if you’re training in a balanced manner.
You can either push or pull with your upper body. Pushing, or pressing would be when you’re doing a movement that requires the front part of your body to push resistance away or push you body away from something. Think bench press or pushup. Pulling would be the exact opposite of pushing/pressing. It’s when you’re bringing a resistance closer to your body or your body closer to something. Think pull-up, rows, rope climbing and similar movements.
It’s important that the ratio of push to pull exercises in your routine is 1:1. That doesn’t mean in a single workout session but it should be over the course of a cycle, whether that’s one session, a week’s worth or month’s worth. Bottom line is 1:1 ratio of push to pull movements is a must. If you don’t, you risk developing a muscle imbalance and injury. When your push/pull ratio is out of whack shoulder issues are a common injury that develops.
You can further break down upper body movements of pushing and pulling to vertical or horizontal planes of motion. A shoulder press would be a vertical pushing movement, while a pushup would be a horizontal pushing movement. Pull-ups would be vertical pulling and bent over rows would be a horizontal pulling exercise. Once you have a 1:1 ratio of push and pull then make sure within your pushing and pulling exercises the ratio of vertical to horizontal is 1:1 as well.
All exercises for your lower body can divided by either knee or hip dominant movements. The recommended ratio between these movements is also 1:1. Examples of knee dominant exercises would be squats or lunges. Hip dominant exercises would consist of most single-leg exercises; think single leg RDLs. If your knee/hip ratio isn’t 1:1 a common injury occurrence is either a knee or hip issue.
One last piece of advice would be to always train your posterior chain. If you tend to train a movement more have it be one that involves your posterior chain. This would be any movement that requires the muscles on your backside to work and be the prime movers. Posterior chain movements tend to be overlooked for what we can see in the mirror when we workout. So if you have time for an extra set of exercises then throw in some posterior chain and strengthen up your backside.
Check out your ratios and see if you’re setting yourself up for success or possible injury.