T Nation

Pushing vs. Pulling Muscles


I think we all know that the human body's posterior chain should be stronger than the anterior chain.

For the upper body and bench pressing, this means that the
chest, anterior deltoids and internal rotators need to be balanced-out with strong
rhomboids, posterior deltoids and external rotators.

My question is whether it is necessary to do chins, rows, face pulls, L flys and other such exercises or whether maybe frequent intense deadlifting may be enough for back size and strength to maintain structral balance?

I thought about this after having read the following article:
Ian's Top 10 Mass Makers
The best exercises for scary size gains!
by Ian King

"The bench press deserves its place here. It's your challenge, as with any lift, to negate the muscle imbalances the bench press presents. If you deadlift, that generally won't be a problem. If you don't deadlift, you're going to need to become very strong in the bent over or seated row!"

"But remember, the bent over row counterbalances the bench press. If you focus on the bench more than the horizontal row, you'll likely develop muscle imbalances and symmetry deficiencies and run the risk of injury.
All that being said, if you stick to this list and focus a lot of your energy on the deadlift and power clean, then you won't have to worry so much about horizontal muscle balance.
On the other hand, if you're deadlifting/cleaning deficient, then you need to be scared, very scared...
Okay, so I'm being a bit melodramatic. But only a bit. The risks you face from benching without appropriate rowing or pulling to act as a counterbalance are very real."

Another question I have is whether a person can potentially be too hamstring-dominant so that it leads to problems ot even injuries?
Also, does the deadlift, or the Farmer's Walk maybe, stregthen the external rotators?

Thank you!


IMO...the rowing(upper-back) is required in addition to deadlifts.


Why not do deadlifts and rows? This sounds like your way over complicating things. Just pick a proven program as written and do it.


Who the fuck is Ian King and how much does he bench and deadlift?

Personally, my deadlift is pretty good. Even with a good deadlift, my shoulders/scaps/rotators feel like shit if not directly worked in some way. I also have trouble setting my lats when I bench/squat if I slack on my heavy lat work.


you're talking about 2 completely different things. Mass vs. postural deviations.

Deads will not work your ext rotators. They are awesome, but not that awesome. You need to hit your rhombs, rear delts and ext rotators directly. The deadlift is the king of back, but that depends on levers and pull style. It will build very meaty erectors, help some with their lats if they can use them properly and thick traps, but they have issues filling most people out wider. You HAVE to hit those "posture" muscles.

Yes someone can be too hamstring dominant. It's rare. Very rare. A good buddy of mine had a hip injury because of it. His hamstring was so strong that it broke his hip bone off and pulled the bone about halfway down his thigh. I tend to think most injuries are due to mobility issues or having weak glutes. One other thing is working the hamstrings properly.

The thought of deadlifts counterbalancing the bench is plain stupid. If you want to prevent injuries then you will have to do much more than that.


You confused me, and i think that is about the most retarded thing i've ever heard. Sorry man i dont like bashing people but deadlifts arnt doing too much for your lats. They are great for your lower/middle back and also work the traps. But anyways pulling/rowing is very important for lat, rear delt and trap developement.

if you want to look out for shoulder health isolate all three of the individual shoulder muscles even if it is just for light weight and high reps.
Any major imbalance in any muscle could be harmful so that does include your hamstrings. flexibility and developement of your hamstrings can directly effect your lower back muscles and vice versa.

kind of like how my outter quad muscle was way stronger than my inner quad muscle (sorry i dont know the exact muscle name) so my outter quad would slightly pull my knee cap to the outside causing grinding around the joint. it was pretty painfull but a few weeks of physical therapy fixed it.


Thanks for your posts.

Thibaudeau deadlifts often, snatches very often and trains his rotators, rhomboids and traps with a great variety of exercises. He doesn't row, though, as the lats are internal rotators and having too strong lats make his shoulder feel bad.


What does he do to specifically target the rotators, rhomboids, and traps? If you don't know I'll just post in CT forum.


Page 2 and the comments have some info, not sure whether it is exactly what you are looking for. :slightly_smiling:




yeah i honestly don't understand how some guys, and im not singling this guy out cause i don't know him, write articles when they havent spent any time under the bar lol. not that im a gifted lifter or anything but whatever.