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Lifting and muscle imbalances
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bonkers Offline
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Post: #1
Lifting and muscle imbalances
Hi all,

I am wondering if I can get some advice regarding muscle imbalances.


Background
I’ve been squatting and deadlifting for a few years. When I started, I noticed significant development of my quads/glutes/lower back. I got up to 1RM of around 260lbs for squat; 308lbs for deadlift.

Since then, I’ve been maintaining my squat around 170-220lbs and deadlift around 220-240lbs for 5 rep sets.However, in that time, I’ve noticed that while my quads and lower back have maintained their development, the glutes have gotten smaller. My balance is also poor.

The squats have been deep - ass to grass - and I’ve always been told my squat form is good. My deadlift has never been as strong as my squat and my hamstrings are very tight. I also have weak/tight calves.


With the above in mind, what should I be doing?
-doing something like pilates to try and improve flexibility in my hamstrings and engage the glutes? and hopefully, improve my balance
-modifying the squat or deadlift to try and strengthen the glutes? if so what are the options

Thanks for any advice,
b
02-17-2018 09:33 PM
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Steelex Offline
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Post: #2
RE: lifting and muscle imbalances
We sort of need some more info here. Age, weight, training program, ect.

If you've been squatting for 3 years and your 1rm is 260, there's a problem there.

There is a problem somewhere.
02-17-2018 09:52 PM
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bonkers Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
Thanks.
Age = 33
Weight = 165lbs
Training program = starting strength
The reason I haven't gone for a higher 1RM is that I was happy with where my lifts were and I have started doing medical residency training so have been time poor. With starting strength and linear progression it gets very demanidng in terms of rest, recovery and diet if you want to keep going up and up - and I didn't have the time for that with work and study.

So at least until I complete my medical residency, I want to keep maintain the current status quo and correct any imbalances.
02-18-2018 01:27 AM
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General Stalin Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
You aren't toghtening your glutes in these lifts. When you lockout your deadlifts, you want to push your hips through/tighten your but checks like you are trying to prevent bubba from butt raping you. Same with squat; tighten your butt at the top of the squat to lock it out.

Also, for accessories, do back hypers and glute/ham raises. That shit will get your ass plump and rock hard.
02-18-2018 03:23 AM
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bonkers Offline
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Post: #5
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
(02-18-2018 03:23 AM)General Stalin Wrote:  You aren't toghtening your glutes in these lifts. When you lockout your deadlifts, you want to push your hips through/tighten your but checks like you are trying to prevent bubba from butt raping you. Same with squat; tighten your butt at the top of the squat to lock it out.

Also, for accessories, do back hypers and glute/ham raises. That shit will get your ass plump and rock hard.

Thanks GS - appreciate that.

Yes - realised I hadn't been squeezing the glutes at the top of the DL.

With the squat - if I squeeze the glutes it feels like the back will straighten and the bar will roll down the back - is there any thing I can do about that?
02-18-2018 04:18 AM
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Hannibal Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
You're basically saying that you want to stay at the same level

If you keep lifting the same weight, eventually your body just gets more efficient at it and you lose size.

Change the routine, the body gets bored doing the same thing over and over and over. Do another set, change the rest intervals, do sets of 6 instead of 5, try incline bench instead of flat bench, etc.

You said you weigh 165, so I'm guessing that you haven't gained much weight in the last couple years.

You can still make strength gains on a time budget, but you did not ask that question.

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02-18-2018 04:26 AM
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Steelex Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
Ok well without watching you train it's hard to say what the problem is. You may think your form is correct but if your glutes are getting smaller, you probably have a problem. I understand what GS is suggesting about squeezing the glutes at the top of the concentric movement, but logically it shouldn't make a huge difference. The glutes are a prime mover in the squat and the deadlift, its physiologically impossible to squat correctly and not involve the glutes. So either your form is off or you have a rare glute wasting disease.

My guess is that you're spending a significant amount of time sitting on your ass or doing physically low intensity activities, and like 2 hours a week in the gym going half ass (no pun intended). You're probably not devoting enough time to sleeping, eating or training.

You have to FORCE physiological adaptation. The body is efficient at removing what it perceives to be unnecessary.
02-18-2018 05:19 AM
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not_dead_yet Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
Bonkers, I'm no expert, but I think the problem is that you're trying to maintain rough parity in your squat and DL weights.

I'm older than you, also 165 lbs, a hard gainer, with limited time for the gym. My goal is "circus strongman" levels of strength, i.e., a 1RM squat of 2BW (330 lbs) and a 1RM deadlift of 2.5BW (400 lbs).

Even if you're in maintenance mode, I still think your deadlift sets should be roughly 50 lbs heavier than your squats, and your posted ranges suggest parity.

Here's the acid test -- how do you look in a set of jeans? Do you fill out the back, or do you have soyboy ass?

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02-18-2018 07:46 AM
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bonkers Offline
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Post: #9
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
Thanks Hannibal - yes I agree, I need to change it up. My question regarding changing it up is mainly what I should focus on - something like Pilates to improve flexibility/balance/engage glutes more or keep doing strength training (and perhaps do more lifts targeting the glutes and hamstrings)

Also with the hamstrings - is the goal to make them stronger or more flexible? My hamstrings seem well developed but inflexible/tight, whereas glutes are definitely weak

Thanks Steelex - yes I do spend a lot of time sitting down - both with work and study - it's not ideal but hopefully not forever. Sleep is not an issue but eating can be. When I was bulking up with starting strength, was consuming a lot of milk/whey/red meat but was feeling very bloated and broke out with acne and had cholesterol issues. Don't think I can keep up that level of eating to keep making those sort of gains hence why I am trying to level out

Thanks not_dead_yet - yes the jeans test is spot on. 12months after I started out squatting and deadlifting, I was filling out the ass of jeans well. Now, despite squatting/deadlifting similar numbers, I have a soyboy ass. You are right - I will have to get the deadlift up and maybe keep the squat the same (I assume that is what you are recommending
02-18-2018 08:07 AM
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Steelex Offline
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RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
(02-18-2018 08:07 AM)bonkers Wrote:  Thanks Steelex - yes I do spend a lot of time sitting down - both with work and study - it's not ideal but hopefully not forever. Sleep is not an issue but eating can be. When I was bulking up with starting strength, was consuming a lot of milk/whey/red meat but was feeling very bloated and broke out with acne and had cholesterol issues. Don't think I can keep up that level of eating to keep making those sort of gains hence why I am trying to level out

To be honest it sounds like your approach to the diet was along the shotgun approach rather than the sniper approach. A lot of people experience similar issues when they massively increase caloric intake. The secret is to usually reduce calories to the amount that is needed for growth (this can take some fine tuning) and change food choices over to ones that are easily digestible and don't sit in the stomach as long. I.e you would replace some of your red meat with chicken breast, reduce the whey somewhat and probably add in some greek yogurt, ect. There are a lot of things you can do diet wise that are more effective than just killing milk and steak.

One of the things I've come to find from working with lots of people on their bodybuilding diets is that during a fat loss phase, high protein is essential. However, during a mass gaining phase we can be somewhat more moderate with protein because the total food volume is larger and we need to easily be able to consume the food necessary for growth. If you're still feeling full from the steak and potatoes meal you had earlier, you're not going to be feeling very enthusiastic about your next meal and you're likely to skip it.

In any case, there is a lot you can do different regarding your dietary approach to muscle gain. If you'd like to talk more about this, please PM me.
02-18-2018 12:07 PM
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Vaun Offline
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Post: #11
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
Pilates.. god no.

My guess is that you are not going hard enough, to push past your limits.

You have to increase your load, week over week. That is why you are stuck. Are you following Starting Strength properly, by increasing your load every week?

Imbalances are common. I have one, due to having no cartilage left in my right knee. It makes me a half inch shorter on my right leg. But I train evenly, across both sides.

My guess is that you are not going hard enough in your workouts, by increasing weight every week.

At the age of 31, I gained 14lbs of LBM in 12 weeks with Starting Strength. I worked with Rippetoe and one of his coaches. I ate 5000+ calories a day. I drank the milk. I ate McDonalds. I quit counting calories. But I knew my macros. I went as hard as possible every workout, by increasing weight every workout, anywhere between 2.5 - 10lbs per movement.

For nutrition, garbage in, garbage out, but when increasing mass, you can throw that out the window. You probably don't eat enough. I wouldn't take a "sniper approach". Thats the last thing you need if you want to increase your size. You need protein, fat AND carbohydrates.

Increase your intensity and eat more, thats my quick assessment if you want muscle growth.

*Side note, I would not take advice on this matter from anyone who hasn't done Starting Strength, or has coached with Rippetoe. I would take your questions over to the Starting Strength message board. There are a lot of body builders who take a completely different(vain) approach to weight lifting, and thats not what you are doing now. They will give you advice more in line with building fake muscle, than building actual useful strength.
02-18-2018 01:18 PM
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bonkers Offline
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Post: #12
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
Thanks all. I agree with you that Starting Strength is an amazing program. It changed my life. I went from a <130lbs person with poor posture and a bad diet; to around 165lbs who could squat 220lbs+ with good form (I know it's not much compared to a lot of people on here but from where I came from, I couldn't believe it).

My Starting Strength coach was also fantastic. He wasn't properly SS accredited but he attempted twice including once by invitation from Mark Rippetoe himself. But that didn't make him any lesser of a coach in my eyes. He helped me tremendously. He was also honest with me - he was happy with my squat form but he said my deadlift was poor. Fair enough - some people weren't made to deadlift well is what he said - I believe Mark Rippetoe says that himself on his forum.

However, I'm at a point where I'm pretty content with my lifting - ie happy to remain around 165lbs, be able to squat 190-220lbs and ideally deadlift a bit higher. I'm also happy with my eating - I try to avoid junk food where possible and eat moderately without going to any extremes.

It's more I've noticed that there are some imbalances. Specifically:
-my quads and lower back feel developed / strong
-my glutes and abs are proportionally much weaker
-my hamstrings are tight (can't touch the floor with hands) and I've noticed that I have poorer balance compared to most people (ie keeping balance on a train/tram seems much harder for me than most others around me)

Hence, my question around how I may be able to correct those imbalances
-is it a matter of strength training targetted at improving the glute / ab strength (not aiming for any six packs) - if so are there targetted lifts that are useful? I feel like if I keep squatting - my quads / lower back will become even more dominant in comparison to my glutes / abs (which seem like the laziest muscles in my body)
-or is it better to improve overall flexibility / balance / muscle engagement through something like pilates

I get the sense that the former is preferred to the latter. ie Pilates seems like a waste of time? Would there be targetted lifts that are better?

Unfortunately, I can't go to the Starting Strength forum or my coach with these questions because the philosophy of Starting Strength is their method or GTFO - which is fair enough - it's their community and method - but it's not the be all and end all. I don't think I will correct the above imbalances with lifting heavier because I think partially some of those imbalances have developed as result of doing the program for several years.

Don't get me wrong, I am definitely in a better place because of Starting Strength, but there are definitely some imbalances which I'm hoping to work towards correcting.
02-18-2018 09:42 PM
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Vaun Offline
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RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
^^^ I would keep deadlifting and squatting, if you want to build you posterior chain further. Everything else is an assistance exercise. GHD raises are probably the best assistance tool, outside of deadlifting and squatting, to build your hamstrings and glutes. First though, you should probably work on your flexibility, it sounds pretty bad, and could be covering up another issue. Have any back problems?
(This post was last modified: 02-19-2018 01:32 AM by Vaun.)
02-19-2018 01:31 AM
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Steelex Offline
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RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
Sounds like you already have your answer. You want to quit lifting and do pilates.

Did you just want to have your opinion validated?
02-19-2018 08:30 AM
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General Stalin Offline
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Post: #15
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
(02-18-2018 09:42 PM)bonkers Wrote:  -is it a matter of strength training targetted at improving the glute / ab strength (not aiming for any six packs) - if so are there targetted lifts that are useful? I feel like if I keep squatting - my quads / lower back will become even more dominant in comparison to my glutes / abs (which seem like the laziest muscles in my body)
-or is it better to improve overall flexibility / balance / muscle engagement through something like pilates

If you want bigger and stronger muscles you aren't going to get it doing pilates.

If you want bigger and stronger glutes and hamstrings specifically then do glute/ham raises, leg curls, reverse hypers. If you want stronger abs hit an ab roller and do weighted crunches and incline crunches.

That said, if you are 165 lbs and only squatting 220 and deadlifting 240 then really your body isn't getting enough stimulus to grow. Proportional to your body weight, you are lifting very light weight and your muscles are not going to grow or do any more than they need to if you aren't asking them to - the body is an efficient machine and will not waste energy on muscle growth if it doesn't need it.

Above all that - you need to work. Muscles don't get strong by lifting light weight casually and irregularly. You need to be hitting the gym several days a week with consistent training and a workout program that prescribes sufficient resistance to elicit growth and physiological improvement from you body.
02-19-2018 11:37 AM
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Plus Oultre Offline
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Post: #16
RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
I recommend a new mirror

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02-19-2018 11:37 AM
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birthday cat Offline
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RE: Lifting and muscle imbalances
I think the solutions to your problems are more complex than you want them to be. You will probably need to work with some type a coach who understands mobility, posture, and imbalances or do a lot of work on your own to figure out how to solve the problems. Starting Strength is a generic program that can help just about anybody get stronger but there isn't a generic program that will solve the imbalance issues that are specific to you.

Some of your comments are the definition of anterior pelvic tilt so that is a good place to start. You need to strengthen your abs and glutes and stretch your lower back and hips. Stretching your hips is probably what you need the most and this is a result of all the time you spend sitting. Strengthening your glutes could be as simple as stretching your hips, learning to get your glutes to activate and doing the compound lifts with the proper form.

Questions:

What type of squats are your doing? Please be specific. You say you are doing Starting Strength with a coach but then you say you are doing ass to grass squats. The low bar squats from Starting Strength are not meant to be done ass to grass.

What is your warm-up routine before lifting? Your entire routine, not just the warm-up sets.

What stretching do you do and how often?

What have you already tried to correct these issues?
02-20-2018 11:49 AM
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