Categories: Strength.

Strength development can plateau if there is a lack of structural balance. The first thing in the structural balance is to look for the disproportionate ratios between different exercises. So if an athlete can bench press 100kg but cant lift up a gallon of milk into his car, something is terrible wrong. More than often if you are failing to make progress in a given lift the body is protecting itself from injury by neurally inhibiting strength gains.

Then the Charles Poliquin Structural Balance was formed through decades of working with elite athletes, where data was being collected about how much an athlete should lift in a given lift relative to other lifts. The athlete who achieved those ratios tend to perform better on the international scene and had the lowest incidence of injuries.

In this article we will talk about upper extremities. A close grip bench press test was use as the reference value for other extremity exercises. This does need further research but this is the first time in the strength and conditioning community was presented with a simple test to assess the athletes optimal strength. The data is presented below in Table A
Table A
Optimal strength ratios in the male elite athletes involved in upper body dominated sports as they related to a 1RM, 160 kg performance in the close-grip bench press (Poliquin, 1997)

Optimal Strength Ratios

Close Grip Bench Press
Absolute score: 160 kg (352 pounds)
Relative score: 100%

Incline Barbell Press
Absolute score: 133 kg (293 pounds)
Relative score: 83%

Supinated Chin-Ups
Absolute score: 130 kg (286 pounds)
Relative score: 81%

Behind-the-Neck Presses
Absolute score: 102 kg (224 pounds)
Relative score: 64%

Scott Barbell Curls
Absolute score: 74 kg (163 pounds)
Relative score: 46%

Standing Reverse Curls
Absolute score: 48 kg (107 pounds)
Relative score: 30%

External Rotation SA*
Absolute score: 15 kg (33 pounds)
Relative score: 9%

*Done for eight reps

When completing the upper body structural balance i suggest you figure out your 1RM on all the described movements and make training adjustments accordingly. For instance, if you test your close-grip bench press 1RM and it’s 100Kg, you know that you should be able to do eight reps of single-arm external rotations with 9kg.

If you fail to come close or meet any of those parameters, you need to focus on that particular body part. Again, this topic needs more research, but these guidelines to be invaluable in determining an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses.

Want to add further information to this article. Then please comment below and I will add where appropriate.


Your in Health

James Morris



T NATION | Achieving Structural Balance. 2012. T NATION | Achieving Structural Balance. [ONLINE] Available at:;jsessionid=EC1ECDC45A13248DB8AC2F5445B35ED3-mcd01.hydra. [Accessed 26 October 2012].


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