Balance Out Your Pushing & Pulling

The basic human movement patterns are:⁣

  • Push (horizontal and vertical)⁣

  • Pull (horizontal and vertical)⁣

  • Squat⁣

  • Hinge⁣

  • Lunge⁣

  • Carry⁣

You could also add in a jump, sprint, throw and possibly a rotation, but in order to keep it simple. Let’s just go with the above.⁣

A common problem we see when training with no equipment is the lack of dedicated ‘pull’ work. Ideally, we want to see a 2 to 1 ratio of pulling to pushing. This means for every ‘push’ exercise you do (let’s say, a push-up) you should balance it out with 2 ‘pull’ exercises (let’s say an inverted row on the rings and a chin-up).⁣


For every ‘vertical pull’ you do, you should balance it out with at least 1 but preferably 2 horizontal pulls.⁣

In general people think pull-ups = lats = back training. While that is true in some sense, they’re mostly unaware that the lats wrap around the back and attach to the front part of your upper arm – making them internal rotators. When we’re constantly doing push-ups, overhead press, pull-ups and burpees we’re pounding away at the internal rotators of the shoulder. This is bad news (especially when you consider our modern ‘slumped-over’ lifestyle habits). ⁣

So we recommend a 1 : 1 : 2-3.⁣

1 push: 1 vertical pull: 2 or 3 horizontal pulls.⁣

A training session could look like this:⁣

  1. Push-ups⁣

  2. Chin-ups

  3. Inverted rows⁣

  4. Single arm DB row⁣

We’d also like to see more external rotation work as part of your accessory exercises. If this seems like too confusing, simply add a row and external rotation exercise into your warm-up everyday. Then make your ‘row’ a main lift on 3 or so days a week.⁣

With no equipment, dedicated ‘pull’ (specifically ‘horizontal pull’) work can be hard, which is why we recommend splurging on a set of rings or suspension trainers. You can find rings pretty cheap online or Kmart has suspension trainers for $20. ⁣

In order to keep your shoulders healthy, improve your posture and your sports performance, you NEED to pull more (and focus on the ‘horizontal pull’ a.k.a the row). Your shoulders will thank you.