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Push Pull Balance in the Main Lifts

I’ve been wondering about this. Everyone tells novices just focus on squat bench deadlifts and press, but that’s two pressing exercises to just one–and what’s worse, the deadlift is usually executed for 1-2 sets of 5 per week while the press and bench press are typically prescribed for a combined 9-15 sets of 5 for novices.

Given that most people recommend 2 pulls for every push, why are barbell rows and/or pull-ups/chin-ups given only secondary consideration?

Who is “most people”?

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The interwebz.

The argument is that the absence of good balance between posterior and anterior chains creates issues in the shoulder joint not to mention kyphosis and rounded shoulders cave man look.

So, not an actual person?

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You do see barbell rows in several starting programs. I can only speak from my experience, but a lot of the push pull imbalance I had earlier on was due to the way my high school football coach programmed our lifts. We did power cleans and bench. Any extra time was spent on a neck machine. Three times a week with no variation. This led to a strong bench with very little pulling. I was surprised to learn that your lats had so much to do with growing a big bench.

I think a lot is still the old gym brah mentality. Nobody has ever asked me how much I can barbell row.

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So, neither of them said they reccomend 2:1. You are just paraphrasing what you read and passing it on as something written in stone said by “some guys”…

If you want an honest discussion on push pull ratio, just say so.

Stop copying what you read without reading the whole article.

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The world of fitness, strength, and health is full of contradictions. There is stuff that will be supportive with your personal experience, and stuff that is conflicting with your experience.

The only way to establish what actually works is to initially read/learn from reliable sources, but ultimately to figure it out for yourself on a personal level.


Seriously? You’re going to stand by it based on the absence of a literal to the letter statement of recommendation?

“You need more than a 1:1 ratio of pushing and pulling exercises.”

The first article recommends >1:1 ratio.

It could be 2:1 it could be 3:1. The author cannot mean 1:1 or less. So are you suggesting he possibly means 1.5:2? 1.33:2? 1.00001:1? Or are you calling me out for not saying “at least” before 2:1?

One of the guys that promotes focusing on 4 big lifts is Jim Wendler. He squatted 1000lbs.

One of the guys you sourced is Bret Contreras.

Of those 2, I know which one I’d prefer to listen to on the topic of training.

That being said, even Jim is a big advocate of chins, rows and back work. I don’t know of anyone saying to do ONLY 4 movements. At least, not anyone worth listening to.


There are only two beginner programs that I know of that use the 1x5 for main deadlift work- Starting Strength and Stronglift 5x5

Starting Strength, as written in the 3rd edition, has you start with the traditional stereotypical squat/bench/deadlift/OHP, but specifically states that after a couple of weeks you should move onto the following-

B-Squat/Bench/Power clean

And also add in chins as assistance later down the road.

Stronglift, because it’s pretty much written for the lowest common denominator, ignores the power clean entirely and instead does-

A- Squat/Bench/BB row (Though I don’t remember if the row was actually there back in its original incarnation)

Point being- Most people who tell novices to do just the squat/bench/deadlift/OHP are regurgitating shit they heard from people who either bastardized SS/what Rippetoe said and/or bastardized 5/3/1 and what Wendler said.

Rippetoe is a big advocate of the power clean and Wendler is a big advocate of chin-ups/getting proficient with vertical pulling.

I don’t think there’s any credible authors/trainers out there who says you should do nothing but squat/bench/ohp/deadlift. Hell, Rippetoe is who people typically point for for advocating that stuff, but they forget that he likes the power clean.

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No, calling you out as you are missing the point.

You are copy/pasting what someone is either copy/pasting or pulling numbers out of their asses or repeating what they heard in the bar the night before.

You are the problem.

There is no such thing as 1:1 or 2:1 or 1:2 or whatever. As mentioned above, it is not as simple as that. Stop spreading shit around. How do you think that the bumblebee can’t fly, according to physics started? By people like you, taking an incorrect assumption, calculating on a napkin and not verifying the data.

You want to have a conversation about it> Fine, just ask the damn question. My answer will differ from the next and so on. For me, it’s balance with band pull aparts. Anecdotal, I know, but works for me.

Your assumptions of numbers are silly, btw.

And you have to use your judgment when reading an article. Stop pulling at straws and putting words in my mouth.

Seek better programs!

Some “cookie cutter” routines are designed just to stall your lifts.

If you want more back, look for routines Designed to have more back.

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