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Posts tagged ““muscle ratio”

strength balance in opposing muscle groups

i was asked a very good question by ArnoldCat:
“why are my pushing muscles so weak compared to my pulling ones”.

so as much as i thought the answer could simply be “well you are an aerialist, you mostly have pulling power”, it raises a new question.
can the pushing muscles in question ever match the strength of the pulling ones?

take the triceps as an example. it’s larger than the biceps. yet the bicep is the one who develops fast and hard, and atm my biceps are pumping twice the weight the triceps can. moreover, the triceps are dog slow to respond to traditional training methods.

so since the muscle is larger, why isn’t it matching the biceps more easily? and will it ever match the strength of the biceps?

there isn’t much acurate research on the web. but i did find a couple of good pointers:

“Muscle balance ratios differ between muscle groups and are affected by the force-velocity of these different muscle groups at specific joints” (Bell, 2007, p.1)[2]. In an ideal situation, isokinetic dynamometers would best facilitate for measurements, but from a practical perspective most trainers will employ a 1-RM testing for each individual muscle group (Bell, 2007)[2].

As cited by Bell (2007)[2],the current standard for muscle balance ratios, recommended for the agonist-antagonist muscle groups are:

Muscle Groups
Muscle Balance
Ratio Weight(example)

Ankle Inverters & Everters

Ankle Plantar Flexors & Dorsiflexors

Elbow Flexors & Extensors

Hip Flexors & Extensors

Knee Flexors & Extensors

Shoulder Internal & External Rotators

Shoulder Flexors & Extensors

Trunk Flexors & Extensors

Balance checks

For each of the following exercise the right and left limb 1RM scores should not differ by more than 10%.

Hamstrings (leg extension)
Quadriceps (leg curl)
Arm Curl
One arm military press
Single leg press

The following table (Dintiman 1998)[1] is reported values for joint agonist-antagonist muscle ratios at slow isokinetic speeds.
Joint Movement Ratio
Ankle Plantar flexion/dorsi flexion 3:1
Ankle Inversion/eversion 1:1
Leg Extension/flexion 3:2
Hip Extension/flexion 1:1
Shoulder Flexion/extension 2:3
Elbow Flexion/extension 1:1
Lumbar Flexion/extension 1:1

Where there is an imbalance then you need to devote more training attention to the muscle group of the weaker limb.

and again here, a more simplified version from men’s health (please use w caution, these ppl have no idea what they are talking about most of the time!):

Use the general guidelines below to check your muscle balance. The strength ratio for each set of muscle groups represents the amount of weight that the first muscle group should be able to lift compared with the second muscle group. If one group is proportionally weaker than it should be, you have to hit it first in your workouts until it catches up.

Muscle group: Quadriceps (front of thighs)
Opposing muscle group: Hamstrings (back of thighs)
Ideal strength ratio: 3:2
Sample exercises: Leg extension, leg curl
Sample weights (lb): 90:60

Muscle group: Biceps
Opposing muscle group: Triceps
Ideal strength ratio: 1:1
Sample exercises: Arm curl, triceps extension
Sample weights (lb): 45:45

Muscle group: Front shoulders
Opposing muscle group: Rear shoulders
Ideal strength ratio: 2:3
Sample exercises: Cable front raise, cable bent-over rear-shoulder raise
Sample weights (lb): 20:30

Muscle group: Internal shoulder rotators
Opposing muscle group: External shoulder rotators
Ideal strength ratio: 3:2
Sample exercises: Cable internal rotation, cable external rotation
Sample weights (lb): 30:20

Read more:

what ppl have to realise, is that yet again, this will not work for everyone. these are merely rough GUIDELINES as far as i am concerned. we are all physiologically different, so a single program will not work for everybody.

i guess the muscles and their relative strength compared to their antagonist will vary depending on many factors, such as mechanical advantage, origins/insertions, geometry of the muscle etc. so perhaps even if a muscle is larger, it might not actually lift as much as its antagonist purely because it’s at a disadvantage in terms of movement and mechanical action? there are no hard rules here i don’t think. just individual cases.

my tip to remain balanced would be to work muscles in opposing pairs. so biceps/triceps etc. making sure that if you’re targeting your 1RM you do so for both muscles and give it all your might.
then you have to take into account whatever strength is gained from functional training outside the gym. for an aerialist whose strength resides in pulling and w tight pecs, i would adjust the workout to target back muscles at 2:1 (for number of reps, not weight) in an attempt to rebalance and improve posture.

oh and stretch these pecs man!