How Structural Balance Can Take Your Strength To The Next Level.


Structural Balance is a concept created by Canadian strength coach Charles Poliquin.

The idea behind this concept is that to be optimal or in other words “efficient” in a particular exercise &/or movement pattern you must first be structurally balanced.


So what does it mean to be structurally balanced?

Well Charles has researched and founded a number of different ratios of strength imbalances, for example if you are able to bench press 100kg then, if you are balanced, you should be able to do a 9.8kg dumbbell external rotation (from the knee) for an 8RM (8 Reps). Charles has a number of different ratios for a variety of movements that can test how balanced you are from head to toe. 


Why would you want to be structurally balanced?

Being structurally balanced is extremely important for any athlete wanting to improve sport performance and also for the everyday gym goer who is looking to improve their strength. The reason for this is the body works in synergy, every time you perform a movement a number of different muscles are used to make that movement as easy as possible.

 A good way to understand this concept is to see your body as a machine that you would find in a gym, it has many different joints, leaver’s, bolts & cable. Now imagine that a leaver somewhere inside that machine is made of bolster wood…

The machine is going to break down pretty quick right?

The exact same concept applies to the body, while doing bench press there are a number of different muscles working & joints moving so if there is a weak link somewhere in the mix your efficiency is going to be jeopardised or worst, you get an injury.

This is because if there is a weakness in a movement, let’s say the external rotator cuff in the bench press then that will send inhibitory messages to the brain telling the prime movers (chest and shoulders) to reduce in strength in order to prevent injury. If you strengthen the external rotator cuff then there will no longer be messages sent to weaken the chest and shoulders and you will be able to tap into your true strength potential.

So not only does being structurally balanced help prevent injury, it helps you break through plateaus and take your strength/athletic performance to the next level.

So just think... Are you that person that has been trying to reach that 100kg squat but things just aren’t going your way? Or has your dumbbell chest press been stuck on 38kg for months without any progress? Then look at the wider picture, do you have a weak point? If the answer is yes then strengthen it and you may be pushing a lot more than the 40’s that only a few weeks ago seemed so far away.


Here are a few ratio percentages that can give you an idea of your own personal structural balance.

  1. Your deadlift 1RM should be roughly 120% of your 1RM squat.
  2. Your overhead barbell shoulder press 1RM should be roughly 60% of your 1RM close grip bench press.
  3. Your dip 1RM should be roughly 117% of your close grip bench press (weight includes your body weight).
  4. You should be able to perform x8 reps of a dumbbell external rotation (from the knee) with 9.8% of your close grip bench press 1RM weight.


Final Words

Remember, no one out there has a perfectly balanced physique… there are always things we can work on. Whether its tight glutes from a workout earlier in the week or knee pain from a weak VMO, make sure you take a deeper look into what problems could be holding you and your training back.

If you feel like structural balance is something that you could work on or have existing issues with pain or progressing your strength then give me an email –


Written by: Jordan Metcalfe

Ref – Poliquin, C. (2010) Poliquin Performance Manual, Poliquin Performance Centre