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What is your ratio ? how much do you push compared to pull? For the most part I am a do a push for every two pulls. 1:2 ratio. A lot of time I might have number of lifts the same a 1:1 ration, but the reps are far more on the pulls then the pushes. Something to take into consideration is how heavy or intense the push or the pull is. I see many programs that have intense pushes but body weight or light pulls. Something to think about. Let me know what you think!



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Comment by Craig Cheek on March 30, 2011 at 3:09pm

i agree you could go heavier for 3, sure. but what is the end goal? we are still training strength with a 5 rep scheme.

 i can have an athlete do 3 reps @95% on back squat but not necessarily be able to perform 3 @95% on bench press. sometimes the rep/intensity charts arent always right. he/she may be better off at 92% for the bench to get the required reps. same with a row. so i can try to row 92% but may not be able to get 3  but could maybe go 87% and get 5. to me, that makes the rep quality better as well. 5 quality reps at an 87% load versus 3 shitty reps at 92%. im not sacrificing form just for the sake of intensities matching. and we are still training strength with a 5 rep scheme.


you are right, its easier to talk about it rather than try to jumble it up on a screen. good discussion.

Comment by Jesse Webber on March 30, 2011 at 2:15pm
Are you still saying you will bench 3 reps but only row 5?  What I am saying is the "relative" intensities don't match.  Sure, a 115 db is heavy for 5, but would be HEAVIER for 3.  I think if we had this conversation in person we could make more sense of each other!
Comment by Craig Cheek on March 30, 2011 at 1:15pm

i never said we do not train heavy on pulls. i noted that we go as low as 3 reps on weighted chin ups. but because we are not pulling the same load we are pushing does not mean it isnt heavy. again, its all relative to the exercise. how many 550# squatters do you have doing 550# rdl's? maybe im not understanding your definition of heavy? 315x3 on bench with 115x5 single arm DB row. is 115x5 not a heavy set of DB rows? its all relative to the athlete.


i think i have the same equation you speak of. i think its all mapped out on a spread sheet. if i can dig it up i will email it to you to see if we are thinking of the same thing.

Comment by Jesse Webber on March 30, 2011 at 11:43am



Thanks for the response.  Obviously, I don't agree.  My assistant and I were batting this around, and we together came to the conclusion that saying that you not training heavy on pulls because you are not as strong at pulls is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The way to get strong at pulls is to train heavy at pulls.


As far as not having a max, I have an equation that has been passed down.  When I got it, it said Iowa at the top, but I don't know if Doyle originated it, or it was passed down to him.  Anyway, it estimates a percent for all exercise based on Bench, Clean, and Squat.  All rows are estimated off clean.


This summer I am going to work on estimating a max on pull-ups rather than testing for AMRAP.


Also, I stated early in this blog that I don't do rotator cuff exercises.  However, we do posterior shoulder, and I would lump them in with rotator cuff in this way... these are stabilization exercise and do not warrant the intensity level of a strength exercise.  Then, when the shoulder is stable, you build strength through the compound movement like pull-ups and rows.  Sets and reps for these 'stabilization' exercises are 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps.  We never get heavy with them.  But we do get heavy with compound pulls.  Again, periodized with the pushes/presses.


Your statement of, "Again, almost all athletes have a long history of pushing without a lot of pulling" is a huge reason we have to do those stabilization exercises, and for me, is an argument FOR training the athlete heavy on pulls.  Keep in mind, we periodize and do progressions... so we don't just have a freshman come in and BB Row sets of 3.  We work up to that emphasizing technique the entire time.  We have an extremely low amount of shoulder injuries here.  Empirically, its working.
Comment by Craig Cheek on March 29, 2011 at 1:43pm

I do not have 1rms for every exericse. So 5x3@90% is easier to prescribe for bench press than trying to figure the same percentage for DB row. So if we are DB rowing that day, maybe we'll do 5x5 or 4x5. Its heavy (relative to that particular exercise) sets of 5. Obviously from a volume standpoint, it is more as well. But its not, imo, as simple as saying that I'm using less weight so I'm not training strength. How many 350lb benchers are doing lat pulldowns with 350lbs? can do 5x3 bench and 5x3 weighted chin up. There, reps are the same. But I may be benching 315 for sets of three but I can only handle an additional 30lbs on my 185lb frame for chins. Overall, the weight for chins is less than bench, but am I not training strength with chins?


Again, almsot all athletes have a long history of pushing without a lot of pulling.


Should I also do heavy sets of 3 on rotator cuff stuff? I mean, it all has to even out, right? Not feeling attacked at all. I like the discussion and do not dismiss anyones opinion just because it may be different than mine.

Comment by Bing Fu on March 29, 2011 at 10:46am

Either way the intensity has to be dictated by good form regardless of rep scheme

Comment by Bing Fu on March 29, 2011 at 10:41am
@Josh yeah that's one of the reasons i don't necessarily favor real heavy, low rep pullups, bent over rows, and 1-arm rows because it really seems like the benefit is heavily negated by the lack of form and proper muscle recruitment.. For example, pullups are notorious for excessive internal rotation and use of the traps when the resistance is high and/or the form begins to break down. Not the best for shoulder health or recruiting the the proper muscles. Even with heavy Hammer stuff I always see a tendency to use more and more momentum as the weights progress.
Comment by Josh Prieur on March 28, 2011 at 10:02pm

Pulling from the floor and exercises such as chinups and pullups can call for high intensities. The only problem I see with heavy rowing is the fact that form starts to diminish and high risk of low back injuries may occur due to the torque on it (depending on which exercise).

However, if they are properly coached and have the muscle connection then I don't see a problem with heavy rowing. Generally speaking most young lifters don't understand how to use proper technique; a lot of bicep pulling and not enough scapular retraction elbow pulling.

Comment by Jesse Webber on March 28, 2011 at 7:36pm

Bing-  Glad you agree that this is a good discussion.  I honestly would like to know "why", and not just to challenge you.  Its not the way I was taught nor the way I practice.


There have been a lot of questionable practices at high level, successful programs.  That is why I explore the whys and wherefores rather than, "It worked for so and so!"  I don't work at a top level program and I need my programs to be as effective as possible.  If there was a sound scientific basis for 10s on rows all the time, I'd try it out!

Comment by Bing Fu on March 28, 2011 at 4:50pm
@Jesse when I came up through college football at Tennessee we were always taught to use 10's in the pulling exercises.. You'll see this in a lot of programs that come from coaches from this tree in the 90's.. Definitely a valid question about why though.. I guess for me it may be more of a point that if it works, don't fix it. Many of these coaches have had BCS championship level success so to that end I've never questioned their wisdom of what works. Even so, I still like to periodize my weights and intensities instead of 10's across the board I'll go down to maybe 5's when we're doing for example 5's down to 2's on bench. Without naming names I can think of quite a few top level programs that still use 10's on all pulling exercises and even though they say to go "heavy" I agree with everyone that there has to be some disparity there. I will try to get some more feedback and evaluate my approach further; I certainly hope there is a logical, technical explanation for this practice because I agree with you Jesse, there has to be a sound basis for why things are the way they are. Thanks to everyone for the open forum, I certainly appreciate any thought provoking discussions such as this!

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