T Nation

Core/Weak Points Holding Back Strength?

How much did your lifts go up when you worked your core and your weak points ect(whatever lift). How would i be able to identify if my core strength is holding me back or to identify weak areas that are holding back my lifts or that i need to address that are causing me injuries.

I am pretty damn weak lifts are
bench 185x2
squat 205x3(20, Been sedentary most of my life hurt my lower back twice so far,but haven’t done any leg work in 1 1/2 months due to busy schedule back currently is feeling ok.)
deadlift 245x3
7-8 wide grip pull ups(can barely get chin over bar)
neutral width grip pull ups(<5)(can’t even get chin over bar.)

any tips or articles that would help me would be cool or your experience doing certain things.

Never been a real fan of core-specific work.

Very occasionally I’d do reverse ab-curls… and sometimes prone bridges…

But I’ve felt that squats+DL’s have worked my core enough. As to telling if your core is holding you back…is it collapsing? Or does it stay nice and braced and strong during the lifts (squats/dl’s)? Any lower back pain that isn’t doesn’t seem to be linked directly to bad form?

I dunno, if you aint doing specific core work, do some and see if it helps?

As far as working on other weak points…
I’d say, that given your lifts, that you don’t have any weak points just weakness overall.
Just doin the main lifts at this stage will get you stronger.

But down the track…
say you are consistently miss BP after the halfway point, towards lock-out. Maybe you need to work on your tri’s, do some iso-tri work or close grip BP or board presses.

Or that you consistently miss DL’s at knee height, maybe it’s time to do some rack-pulls.

Or squats in the hole, maybe it’s time for bands, or box squats…

Do you see where I’m trying to say? Weak area’s generally tend to make themselves pretty obvious. But at your stage in training I’d say just keep on with those main lifts, and you’ll get stronger. You just don’t need the complication of “advanced” training at this stage.

As far as my experience goes- I was missing alot of oh presses at the lock-out (past my forehead). So I did some tri-isolation work and it helped me bust through a plateau.
Was lacking explosiveness out of the hole in squats, so did box squats for a while, also helped me get the numbers moving again. Doing box squats was actually mainly to help with my regular squat form, which prob. helped my numbers too…

The only other issue that I should bring up is the issue of injuries and them being related to weaknesses…
I personally have very weak ext. rotators and poor scap./general shoulder stability. So I have to do a fair bit of work to keep my shoulders in good shape. But again, these things tend to make themselves pretty obvious… Like, my shoulder clicks, hurts, slides out of joint kind of obvious.

As long as you are doing a balanced program, and as long as your lifts for opposing muscle groups stay fairly balanced, I don’t think you really have anything to worry about.

Although I do try and encourage people to add some shoulder-health stuff to their program, regardless of how healthy they think their shoulders are. It just seems that it’s the most common complaint from lifters. Esp. people who insist of having BB BP as their main upper body push movement.

Hope this was helpful!

My form easily breaks down in heavy squats for me and i always end up rolling onto my toes to start getting the weight up and sometimes feels like i am doing a good morning even thought i try not to(hurt lower back twice doing this).

Recently after the 2 injuries and letting myself feel better, I improved my form on deadlifts and they don’t aggravate my lower back.

Yeah i am planing to do some single leg work(attempt), rdls to strengthen my hamstrings and do some core/stretching ect to see if that will improve my squat form under the weight.

Thanks for the tip about shoulder stability, i will work on it as this is what seems to be holding back on my bench numbers and what makes pull ups so hard at the top of the lift.

Hey Tassietaekwon…I’m curious as to what your lift numbers are, since you think that squats & DL’s work your core enough? Do you read and apply any of the articles posted on this site?


I’m sure that the intention of you post was to patronize me, or begin a personal attack.

I’m sure that if I said that I didn’t do direct arm or calf work, you will jump to correct me in my ever so misguided ways also.

But I will still grace you with a reply, to clarify my position.

Yes, I read the articles on the site. I never swallow them whole, and I wouldn’t ask anyone to swallow my advice without questioning it either. I do however apply some of the information or principles from the site.

Notice I said to the OP “if you aint doing core work, try it and see if it helps”.

The main point of my post was that if there are weaknesses that are holding back your main lifts, they will generally manifest themselves within the lift.

I find that as a beginner, which is what both I and the OP are, the weaknesses that is holding you back- is that you haven’t DL, Squatted and Benched (or pressed) enough, for a long enough time.

So to clarify my position-

For injury prevention, working on weak or problem areas is vital.
For (beginners) putting up your main lifts, do your main lifts more (as in, for a longer period of time).

If a problem/weakness rears its ugly head, deal with it.
If you want to add accessory work, it aint going to hurt you either(within reasonable degrees) And it could help prevent problems arising in the future.

How long have you been training? Stats: age, height, weight?

As for your squats under heavy load, are you breathing correctly to help stabilize your core? Inhale, hold breath, down, up, exhale. You should feel your core tighten up as you lift up. I would also take a look at your form on your squats…

My .02

20 years old
about 185-190ish
Learned some lifting when i played HS football when i was a junior, basically the only thing i learned from it was how to clean which came naturally to me. When i was squatting in high school it was to parallel with a belt I remember 205 lbs would make me collapse forward onto the pins like i was doing a good morning.

That’s been a while, I now lift at my college, last year my friend and I lifted doing squats deads etc… except every time we workout it was like going for a 1 rep max in all the lifts i remember trying to get out of the hole and i automatically leaned forward and that hurt my lower back.

Since the new year i been working in getting healthy, stronger and looking good. Ill try that breathing technique for squats.

Thanks patwrik,I forgot to mention that breathing is very important to hold your core strong while squatting or deadlifting
Google “valsalva” that’s what the technique is called.

From the sounds of it you are focusing too much in the mirror or looking straight head, which is causing you to fall forward.

When squatting trying looking at where the ceiling and the wall meet. This will make sure your back is in the right position when going down. DO NOT LOOK FORWARD OR STRAIGHT UP.

When you are at the lower position, drive with your heels, and trying pushing up on the bar with your arms. If the weight is heavy it shouldn’t go anywhere, but it will help keeping you from falling forward as well. It should help expose your chest on the ascent up.

Remember your breathing technique as well.

Its a lot to absorb, but keep at it. Lower the weight and don’t go for those 1 rep PRs. Lock down your form and everything will fall into place.

As always…just my .02