I recently decided to utilize Front Squats as a max effort movement for a cycle. I’ve utilized them for supplemental/hypertrophy work in the past but never max effort. When I got to heavier weights my upper back became the limiting factor, no surprise there.
What was surprising, however, was that my upper back became extremely painful to the point where I couldn’t hold the bar on my shoulders because it hurt so bad, rather than simply not having the strength. Not sure if it was cramping or what but I’ve never encountered that pain before.
I took this to mean that my upper back is weak, really weak. Whether that is the case remains to be seen. I decided to work on my upper back by hammering it hard, fairly common advice for the scenario. I programmed upper back work in addition to normal movements on every workout each week.
I’ve utilized this programming change for several weeks now. Recently a curious thing happened. When unracking on Bench, I suddenly could barely clear the J hooks. I hadn’t moved the hook height, what gives? I took this to mean that, in the past, my upper back was too weak to hold my shoulders back when unracking, causing them to move forward. Now that my back is stronger I can better restrict shoulder movement.
Another side effect became apparent, my Bench strength went down. I also noted that my chest felt like it received much more stimulation. I believe that I had been utilizing much more shoulders in my Bench. Once they were effectively pulled back by my upper back muscles my chest was brought into the picture. This seems to have exposed another weakness which was less apparent: my chest.
Unless you’re overall quite strong, it’s likely that you have more than one weakness. And it’s likely you’ll begin to find more after fixing them.