T Nation

Strength Ratios / Identifying Weak Points


Eventually we all plateau on every lift. I've often just taken that as a sign that it's time to change exercises / routines / my point of focus / etc. but it strikes me that when the lift in question is one of the big compound lifts it might be more beneficial to identify the weak muscle group(s) and bring them up to speed rather than changing up the whole program.

E.g., when I hit a plateau on the bench a few weeks back I decided to test my theory that I was torso-dominant and that it was likely my arms that were holding me back. So for a month I started every workout with two tricep / bicep 5x5 supersets and incorporated drop and double-drop sets on each exercise as well. I otherwise kept everything at maintenance levels and didn't change anything. After four weeks of busting ass on arms I returned to my previous routine and was quickly able to add 10% to my normal working weight in the bench.

My question is: how in the heck do you identify which muscle groups are holding you back in the big compound lifts? It seems that a bit of equilibrium is probably a pretty efficient way to push one's working weights up but I for the life of me have no idea how to accurately identify where I need supplemental work. Anyone?


It depends on where your sticking points are. You need experts to look at your lifts and have them critique your form. Then they can help.

I'm on Dr. Squat (http://drsquat.com/forum/index.php) a lot and although I haven't had anyone critique my lifts yet, many have posted their videos and I've learned a lot from the comments others have given. They specialize on the big 3 lifts and give lots of advise on equipped lifts but there is a lot of expertise in raw lifts as well. I've never seen anyone give flippant or disrespectful comments. They're all very professional. Dr. Squat wouldn't put up with a lot of the nonsense I've seen on some other sites.



The bench press is principly a tricep excercise or should be when preformed correctly (assuming the goal is to lift as much as possible). I am not surprised at all that focusing on your triceps produced good results. In general, it would be my expectation that the most efficient way to move your bench numbers is to strengthen your tris.

I personally am not a big fan of supplemental work. To my mind, the best way to build a big bench is to spend some serious time on the bench preforming your usual benching, some JM presses, board presses (to address sticking points), ect.

Predominately, I feel the same about the other lifts as well in that there are excellent variations similiar to the actual lift that can get you through the point at which you miss that particular lift. Addressing weak point in this way has the added advantage of helping you groove a useful and more efficient muscle recruitment pattern which is essential to building a stronger lift.