This article was originally written for STACK.
As a coach, one of my main goals with workout programming is balance. Creating an equally partitioned regimen so that no body part gets left behind is key. But if we're only looking at what goes on inside of the gym, then we're completely neglecting a major part of the equation.
Modern life, in general, hates the posterior chain.
OK, maybe that's a bit dramatic. But think about it, almost all of the activities we're exposed to on a regular basis contribute to anterior dominance. Working at a desk, commuting to and from work/school, and sitting while texting or watching TV are all things most of us spend hours doing each day.
All of these activities tighten and over-activate muscles on the front of the body, and lengthen and under-activate muscles on the back of the body. These imbalances not only cause discomfort and bad posture, but can also lead to injury and hamper athletic performance.
So what's the solution? Pull more! Specifically, you should be pulling at least twice as often as you push inside the weight room.
This means for every rep of a pressing exercise (Bench Press, Overhead Press, etc.), you should be doing at least two reps of a pulling exercise (Rows, Chin-Ups, etc.).
That may seem like overkill, but it's necessary.
Trust me- your shoulders, hips and lower back will thank you for using this ratio. Plus, having a big, stable back will actually go a long way in helping your Squat, Bench and Deadlift. So it's a win-win!
Before you get worried about adding more training days to your program or camping out at the Lat Pulldown machine for two hours, check out these four simple methods for incorporating more pulls in your regimen.
1. Add an Upper-Back Exercise (or Two) to Every Warm-Up
As previously mentioned, improving your back strength and stability will help improve performance in heavy pressing, squatting and deadlifting. Add a few sets of high-rep Band Pull-Aparts, Face Pulls, and/or Straight Arm Pulldowns before every session to warm-up the lats and rear delts and prime you for a solid workout (and build a better posture in the process).
2. Superset Every Press with a Row
For every set of Bench Presses, Overhead Presses or the like, perform a set of rows. These don't need to be heavy. High-rep Band Rows, Seated Cable Rows, Dumbbell Rows, or even Bodyweight (Inverted) Rows will do the trick. Supersetting every pressing exercise with a rowing exercise will also ensure you're always within easy striking distance of achieving that two-to-one pull-to-push ratio.
3. Pull Heavy First In Your Workout
Remember, total volume is not only a factor of sets and reps, but of load as well. By programming a heavy pull first in your upper-body workout (such as a Landmine Row, Pendlay Row, or Bent-Over Row), you're able to achieve a greater overall work capacity simply because you're not fatigued from previous exercises.
4. Pull Throughout the Day
Lastly, one of the best ways to get your pulling in is to microdose some work throughout the day. Keep a band in your car, at your desk, or in your suitcase while traveling, and knock out a few sets of Band Pull-Aparts every couple of hours.
For healthier shoulders, better posture and stronger lifts, pull twice as often as you push. You'll be impressed with the changes in health, body composition and performance that can come about just from following this simple ratio.