Offset Loading Training for Strength, Size, & Performance
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
I’m a big fan of utilizing unique training protocols to clean up body mechanics and form. One that I’m particularly fond of is the offset loading technique. This can be performed with barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, cables, bands, and even bodyweight. It simply involves loading more weight or placing more tension on one side of the body and less on the other as I have NHL hockey player Daniel Sprong demonstrating here with a simple yet brutal offset power hold.
With that said here are 11 reasons why offset loading is so effective.
1. Offset loading may be the single most effective strategy I’ve used not only for immediately exposing asymmetries and imbalances but also for eliminating them. That’s because it forces the weaker side to catch up to the stronger side particularly when it comes to neural drive, muscle activation patterns, motor control, intramuscular tension, and motor unit synchronization.
2. If you’re looking for a method that not only works the primary muscles for that movement but also crushes the core, look no further than offset training. In fact, you’re essentially resisting rotation and lateral flexion throughout each movement making it incredibly effective for hitting all of the spinal stabilizers and core musculature. Think of it as a combination Pallof press performed in conjunction with any movement you’re doing.
3. Offset loading is highly effective for eliminating momentum and jerky mechanics as it requires the lifter to lift the weights smoothly and in a very controlled manner without wiggling or shifting. That’s because it forces the lifter to synchronize the movement so that both sides (the heavy and light sides) move in unison rather than out of sync with each other. Besides improving mechanics this also places more tension on the targeted muscles making it highly effective for hypertrophy training.
4. One of my favorite features of the offset method is that it teaches the lifter to stay tight by increasing intramuscular tension throughout the entire body. In fact, this method helps promote concurrent activation and irradiation (increased neural drive from staying tight) which helps eliminate energy leaks and clean up form. Once you go back to standard loading don’t be surprised if your strength goes up.
5. Offset loading helps to eliminate collapsing and excessive range of motion as the increased full body tension helps promote strong 90-degree angles rather than excessive ROM commonly seen in lifters. Even the slightest collapse on any movement will cause the lifter to lose control of the movement typically causing the body to twist or laterally flex.
6. If you’re looking for a technique that literally helps clean up form almost immediately offset loading is it. The combination of core stabilization, full body tension, and greater motor control causes the lifter to clean up their body mechanics within seconds in order to successfully complete the lift.
7. Offset loading is incredibly physically and mentally demanding to the point that most clients will feel their lungs and conditioning as much as their muscles. If you’re looking for a strength training method that improves conditioning and strength as well as mental toughness and concentration, these fit the bill perfectly.
8. Another important feature I appreciate regarding dumbbell offset loading is how much it improves coordination and motor control. Because one side will have a tendency to lag behind the other it almost feels as though each dumbbell has a mind of its own. The degree of mental concentration and motor control required to keep the movement smooth and moving in one seamless motion is significant to say the least.
9. If you’re in need of a training method that crushes the muscles while minimizing total loading, joint tension, and muscle damage the offset method is it. Because you won’t be able to handle quite as heavy a loading as you typically would it allows increased training intensity and activation but with decreased soreness and less demands on recovery. This also allows the individual to train more frequently yet still with a relatively high intensity.
10. Besides addressing a number of activation issues and dysfunctional movement patterns offset loading is very practical and functional as few forces we encounter in everyday life, as well as in athletic performance, involve symmetrical loads and forces. As a result the impact offset loading has on functional performance is noteworthy.
11. Offset loading is highly versatile and can be performed on any free weight movement, cable exercise, dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, or specialty bar variation as well as any movement pattern including chest presses, squats, lunges, hinges, overhead presses, pullups, rows, pullovers, curls, skull crushers, shoulder raises, and more.
With that said here are my favorite offset training methods.
Dumbbell Offset Training
Dumbbell offset training is perhaps the most user friendly method of offset training as it’s typically not as intense or as difficult to successfully implement. In fact, if you’re unaccustomed to offset training I recommend you start with dumbbells.
I typically recommend using 2-4 sets of 3-5 repetitions (per side) for each set when using offset dumbbell loading. In addition, the heavier side should range between 2-3x as heavy as the lighter side. The larger the variance between sides the greater the difficulty of the movement. For instance I’ll typically use a 30 lb dumbbell in one hand and a 90 lb dumbbell in the other.
Barbell Offset Loading
Although common sense might indicate that dumbbell offset loading is more challenging than barbell offset, this simply isn’t the case. In fact, performing offset barbell loading with even just 5-10 extra pounds on one side of the bar typically feels far more difficult than dumbbell variations that involve 3-4x the level of offset (i.e. 50 lb offset). That’s likely because the nervous system is working over time to keep both sides in sync since each end of the barbell is dependent on the other side. In other words, if one side tips it produces an immediate impact on the opposite end. With dumbbells this isn’t the case.
Here’s an example of barbell squats as shown by several of my collegiate and NFL athletes.
With that said I typically recommend 2 distinctly different forms of offset loading when it comes to barbell movements. One involves heavier loads (50-75% of what you would typically handle) and smaller offset variance (5-20 lbs more on one side of the barbell). This tends to be a bit easier and also produces slightly more overload and muscle damage. The other (Extreme Offset Loading) involves substantially lighter loads (20-35% of our normal loading) but with extreme offset loading (15-45 lbs more on one side of the barbell) which tends to be much more challenging yet even more effective for eliminating energy leaks and increasing full body intramuscular tension.
Here’s an example of the latter variation showing extreme offset loading with my NFL athlete Kevin Minter. These are inordinately brutal and absolutely pulverize the body.
In fact offset loading squats do wonders for cleaning up squat mechanics and teaching the lifter to stay tight. They key is to not go excessively deep but instead to hit 90-degree joint angles (slightly above parallel) as Kevin shows here otherwise you'll lose tightness. Read more about proper squat depth and squat form here
In fact, this is one of but many ways to illustrate that 90-deg is in fact optimal for humans when it comes to squatting under high intensity scenarios as it’s nearly impossible to perform a squat with significant offset loading unless you hit 90. That’s because collapsing & going significantly deeper requires the body to produce energy leaks, sacrifice alignment, decrease core activation, destabilize the hips & pelvis, and forfeit optimal levels of intramuscular tension & co-contraction all of which will make it impossible to maintain control.
Here’s an example of a brutal but simple offset core exercise as shown by my bodybuilding client Eric McIntyre. Simply load one side of the bar with a plate, grasp the bar with a shoulder width grip or wider, then simply hold an isometric lockout while attempting to keep the bar perfectly square using perfect posture and spinal alignment.
Essentially this ends up feeling similar to a combination suitcase hold, Pallof press, and single arm plank, as your entire body from head to toe will be forced to fire in order to resist lateral flexion and rotational forces acting on the spine. The goal when performing this movement is to keep the barbell as square and parallel to the floor as possible while also keeping the center of the bar (i.e. center knurling patch) to line up with the center of your torso.
What inevitably occurs is the loaded side wants to drift inward/medially towards the midline of the body thereby forcing the lifter to pull the loaded side away/laterally to the side of the body to keep it centered. In fact, this is one rare instance where I actually recommend using the mirror as most folks will think the bar is centered when in reality it isn’t. In fact, for many offset barbell movements you may want to periodically use the mirror to check on your position.
When performed correctly this is extremely intense and effective. Additionally, I typically use this exercise as one of the first offset movements before having athletes perform other offset exercises as they can gain the feel of the offset loading protocol under simple isometric conditions before moving to more complex movements.
If the offset power hold still doesn’t do it for your core, you can also perform offset ab rollouts by simply loading one end of the barbell with exponentially more weight then performing traditional ab rollouts as I have NFL athlete Vantrell McMillan showing here.
Offset barbell loading can also be easily applied to the bench press, floor press, and incline press as NFL athlete Marcelis Branch shows here. These do wonders for teaching the athlete how to stay tight on the bench press and maintain full body tension.
Bent over barbell rows receive a similar stimulus and training effect as shown here by my bodybuilding athlete Ben Lai.
Learn more about offset barbell loading here.
Continually Adjusting Offset Loading with Accommodating Resistance
This method simply involves adding a band or chain to one side of the barbell. The added benefit of this is that the chain or band creates an offset load that the lifter has to continuously adjust to throughout the set. In other words the bottom may only be a 5-10 pound offset difference whereas the top may be closer to a 20 pound difference.
With traditional offset loading using standard plates, once your body becomes calibrated to the exact amount of offset neuromuscular recruitment needed for a particular set the lifter can somewhat get into a groove and find their sweet spot. Although this is ideal at first, forcing the lifter to continuously adjust and recalibrate every second of every set not only makes the movement infinitely more challenging but it also improves proprioception, kinesthetic awareness, full body tightness, core activation, and mental concentration. Simply put they can never go into autopilot mode but must constantly be at a maximal cognitive engagement state. This is ideal when it comes to skill acquisition, movement mastery, and motor control.
As a result, this is one of the best protocols for improving mechanics and form. To take things a step further, try incorporating an eyes closed eccentric isometric protocol as Ben demonstrates as this provides even greater proprioceptive feedback and sensory integration allowing the movement to hone in other mechanics and fine-tune their form.
On a side note if you’re looking for a training routine that involves unique movements such as those shown in this article as well as the hundreds of other unique movements I post for less then $2 per day, check out my daily members workouts with TRAINING REDEFINED.
Offset elevation training simply involves elevating one leg or limb several inches higher than the other as my awesome client Ben Lai shows here. It’s most easily applied to lower body movements such as squats, hinges, and deadlifts. Here are 7 reasons why it’s so effective.
1. One of the biggest issues that can contribute to asymmetrical positioning occurs when individuals get overly concerned and distracted with how symmetrical a movement feels. While it’s critical to pay attention to symmetrical loading, symmetrical positioning, and intramuscular sensations, it’s actually more important to focus on executing the basic biomechanical steps of a movement with proper cues such as tight core, proper posture, controlled eccentric, foot alignment, and general limb position etc.
Becoming overly concerned with symmetrical positioning and intramuscular sensations can distract the lifter from these other more important cues. Ironically this can degrade their symmetrical positioning even more so. This offset elevation squat helps address this as the lifter inherently approaches each set understanding that the movement will feel semi asymmetrical throughout therefore they don’t have to be overly concerned with their sense of symmetry. Instead they can focus more so on basic squatting cues and general biomechanics with less distraction about how symmetrically aligned or symmetrically loaded they feel. As previously mentioned I’ve seen this be one of the most effective methods for enhancing symmetrical loading and positioning.
2. When it comes to cleaning up the squat or any movement pattern for that matter, learning to engage the core is always a surefire way to produce immediate improvements in form. Offset elevation forces the lifter to activate their core to a greater degree as a means of stabilizing an asymmetrical hip and pelvic position.
3. Offset elevation is one of the most effective drills I’ve used for teaching the lifter to set the hips back on squats and deadlifts. That’s because in order to create a stable and comfortable position with the offset elevation, the hips (especially on the elevated side) will have to hinge back. Simply put, the lifter is forced to flex the hips and produce ample hip hinge before they even begin the rep all of which must be maintained throughout the set.
4. Offset elevation squat is one of the most effective techniques for reinforcing proper 90 degree lower body mechanics and eliminating collapsing at the bottom. Because of the semi-awkward nature of the offset elevation, it feels incredibly awkward and unnatural to use excessive depth. In fact, some individuals may even feel a slight pinching sensation in their hips and pelvis when using excessive depth particularly in the elevated foot. However, this actually provides productive and beneficial feedback as its teaches the lifter ideal range of motion and mechanics. To avoid this pinching sensation and very uncomfortable hip position the lifter will be required to use approximately 90-degree joint mechanics
5. As asymmetrical as it is, the offset squat actually helps address asymmetries and weakness as you’re pushing slightly more with the elevated leg, somewhat similar to a single leg exercise, although the lifter should try to push as equally as possible with both legs.
Learn more about offset elevation training here.
Offset angle training is another one of my favorite offset protocols. The concept is quite simple as it involves performing movements using an angled slope or slanted surface. This is most easily done using either a decline bench or a small slope/ramp or anything else that provides an offset angle. Although this method looks quite unusual, offset angled training has many unique attributes and applications. Here’s are several examples using variations of basic horizontal chest presses.
These have 4 unique benefits.
1 The degree of anti-rotation, core stabilization, and rotary stability required is through the roof as your body literally wants to twist, rotate, and shift off the bench. In order to maintain your body position and resist these rotational forces, your entire core and abdominal musculature will be required to aggressively fire throughout the duration of the set.
2. Not only does the offset angle position produce rotational forces on the torso and spine, it also produces a strong abduction force on the shoulder (on the side that’s lowest on the bench). As a result the lifter inevitably feels as though they’re performing a combination chest press and isometric chest fly as they’re resisting abduction forces throughout the set by aggressively contracting their chest via shoulder adduction.
3. The level of posterior chain recruitment and hip activation needed to maintain proper body positioning is exceptionally high during offset angled decline presses. In fact, you'll notice that your core, hips, and even your feet and ankles must work together to resist rotational forces and keep your body fixed on the bench. In fact, I’ve had several athletes express how they nearly experienced cramping in their glutes, hips, and feet when performing these due to the intense activation needed during these exercises.
4. The level of full body tension needed to dial these in are inordinately high. Once you return to traditional bench pressing exercises not only will they feel exceptionally easy in comparison but you’ll most likely notice you can handle substantially heavier loads due to your improved ability to tighten up your whole body and eliminate energy leaks.
This method can also be applied to squats as demonstrated by my awesome client Matt Jordan
Although it has similar benefits to offset elevation training it also provides an intense training stimulus to the feet and ankles as one side is resisting pronation while the other is resisting supination. In fact, many of my clients mention how their feet and ankles nearly cramp when performing these. If you have trouble screwing your feet into the floor when squatting or doing any standing exercise, the offset angled method is a sure fix.
This can also be applied to renegade rows to create enormous levels of rotary stability and anti-rotation the lifter must handle. The core and abs get absolutely pummeled from these as perfectly demonstrated by my awesome client Leslie Petch.
Pushups and variations thereof also provide a unique stimulus as they feel similar to a single arm pushup and Pallof press as I have MLB pro baseball players Austin Meadows showing here.
With the offset angled position we’re also increasing the rotational forces acting on your body that you’ll have to resist by firing the daylights out of your core. Although it may seem like a small adjustment, placing the hands on an angled surface doesn’t just create an offset height.
In reality the slight tilting/angling of the hands and arms produced from the offset angle produces exponentially greater rotational forces on the entire body than simply elevating them on two flat surfaces.
The Pullup provides several distinct benefits as the lifter will be required to maintain proper spinal alignment throughout even tough the offset angle will be attempting to move them out of alignment both laterally and vertically. However these can do wonders for cleaning up pullup mechanics and reinforcing proper vertical pulling technique as 2 of my NFL athletes Julian Williams and Bryce Canady show here.
Here are several more of my favorite offset angle exercises. Read more about the benefits of each variation here.
Offset Angle Chaos Method
The offset angle method can also be applied to the chaos band protocol for pushups, pullups, inverted rows, dips and more as shown here by my awesome client Leslie Petch.
As a bonus these do wonders for cleaning up pushup mechanics as well as eliminating imbalances & asymmetries particularly when combined with the instability & perturbations produced from the chaos band method. Just be prepared to brace the daylights out of your core and maintain full body tension from head to toe.
Learn more about chaos band training here.
Double Offset Protocol
Double Offset loading simply involves using a lighter bottoms up or pinch grip loading in one hand (i.e. bottoms up kettlebell) while using a heavier more traditional object in the other (i.e. dumbbell. This has several benefits.
Here’s an example as demonstrated by 2 of my MLB pro baseball players Austin Meadows and Parker Meadows. This has several benefits.
1. It allows the lifter to train the grip and smaller stabilizers as well as large prime movers at the same time without sacrificing overload to the primary muscles.
2. One of the drawbacks many lifters complain about in regards to both bottoms up presses and pinch grip exercises (i.e. hex pinch dumbbell rows) is that they tend to be too light to produce an adequate strength & hypertrophy stimulus in the primary movers. Even if you are fairly efficient at bottoms up movements or pinch grip exercises you’ll most likely only be taking advantage of only 2 mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy namely mechanical tension and metabolic stress. Simply put you’ll be missing out on the third and arguable one of the most important mechanisms namely muscle damage and micro-trauma as the loads are typically too light to trigger this. However this dilemma is quickly resolved with the double offset method as the lifter can reap the benefits associated with bottoms up and pinch grip movements while simultaneously triggering a significant hypertrophy stimulus with traditional heavy dumbbell loading. In other words you’re performing stability training and overload training at the same time.
3. This methods also helps with motor control and neuromuscular efficiency. While one arm is essentially performing a relatively standard overload movement, the other arm is performing a lighter technique drill. The goal is to transfer the same crisp and proper mechanics produced from the bottoms-up or pinch grip technique to the arm that’s simultaneously moving the heavier dumbbell on the opposite side. Once mastered, the movement should appear seamless & synchronized as if you were using the same tools and loads on each side with no visible differences in body position and mechanics. This requires incredible neuromuscular coordination, body awareness, proprioception, sensory integrated movement, and mental engagement.
Offset barbell leverage training is very similar to offset barbell loading in terms of the effects and benefits. The primary difference is that rather than placing more weight on one side of the bar to produce the offset stimulus, you’ll simply shift to one side of the bar. This places one side into a more biomechanically disadvantageous position and the other side into a biomechanically strong position. For instance if I shift to the right, I’ll have more of the weight on the left side of my body and visa versa. Although the effects are similar this tends to produce even greater rotational forces the lifter will have to resist both on the barbell and their body. Although it’s difficult to overload these the level of core stability, anti-rotation, full body tension, anti-lateral flexion, and rotary stability are through the roof.
Although you can use a moderate load (i.e. 50-70% your typical load) and simply shift several inches to one side, you can actually perform these with just an empty barbell by shifting all the way to the outside of the bar near or at the collar as I show here on the overhead press. Just remember the farther over you shift the exponentially more physically demanding these become. And yes even though it was just an empty 45 lb bar, this was without a doubt one of the most brutal overhead presses I’ve ever performed as it felt like my core and abs were going to burst. This same strategy can also be employed on chest presses, rows, squats, and other traditional barbell movements.
Offset Pullups and Chin-Ups
Pullups and chin-ups are a bit unique in terms of offset training. There are several methods I like to use. First, you can use offset elevation by employing a staggered grip position with one hand several inches higher than the other as I have NFL athlete Marquell Beckwith showing here.
These are actually a slight regression of the offset angle pullups I highlighted above. They also provide several unique benefits all of which I explain here.
You can also perform pullups using offset loading by simply placing a chain or kettlebell onto one leg or foot as shown here with 3 brutal variations. These requires significant core stabilization to resist being pulled to one side.
You can also used bands to perform offset pullups. This first variation shown here by Leslie involves the suspender band method. Simply loop a band that’s anchored near the floor onto one shoulder and perform pullups. These blast the core and require extreme core and lat activation to maintain alignment.
Similarly you can have a partner hold one band anchored to both feet and have them pull laterally so that you’re directly resisting lateral flexion and rotational forces as shown here by NFL athlete Julian Williams. These may be the most brutal of all the offset pullup variations.
Read more about the numerous benefits and variations of offset pullups here.
Offset Cable Exercises
Cable exercise such as lat pulldowns, rows, and straight arm pulldowns are also quite conducive for performing offset training. Simply place one hand closer to the center of the bar and the other hand closer to the outside of the bar then switching midway through the set. The goal is to not let the bar tilt or twist.
The inside arm (the one closest to the center) will be the dominant arm in this method. Similar to the above pullups, lock the core and keep proper postural alignment as my awesome client Leslie Petch shows here. As an added bonus, try throwing in the squatting lat pulldown method as she shows here as it provides a massive degree of core activation and full body motor control.
Offset Landmine Leverage
Offset training can also be applied to the landmine station as I show here in 8 exercises along with my awesome clients. The effects are somewhat similar to several of the other offset methods, however, offset landmine leverage training provides 4 unique elements.
First, there is an actual offset load. For instance, during the bench press the arm that is closest to the plates supports more of the total load with the offset ratio being approximately 60-70% of the load on the side closest to the plates and the additional 30-40% on the opposite side. This requires the lifter to brace the daylights out of their core and stabilizers throughout as well as create maximal full body tension. If you don’t the loaded arm will trail behind the other arm making the movement look and feel very asymmetrical. Think of these as unilateral or single arm movements with slight assistance from the opposite arm.
The second factor is the offset arm position. Throughout the entire movement the arm that is closest to the load will be set higher than the other arm. In addition, the further the lifter moves into the top of the movement the greater the difference between the two sides due to the change in leverage at different points in the motion. This requires continuous re-calibration throughout each rep forcing incredibly strict mechanics and cognitive focus as the motion can feel quite awkward. The key is to avoid letting the offset position alter your ideal body mechanics or spinal alignment. This demands even greater full body tension, core tightness, and spinal rigidity.
The third factor is the offset range of motion. Besides having an offset position the range of motion is also offset as the arm that’s closest to the load will move through a full range of motion while the arm farther away will move through a more abbreviated range of motion. Ironically, I’ve found this to be an exceptional variation for minimizing collapse or the use of an excessively large range of motion (a common problem with many lifters) as it feels very unnatural.
The fourth and final factor is the offset stability. Simply put the farther you move from the anchor or pivot point of the landmine station the greater the instability as even the slightest deviation will cause the bar to move, twist, or rotate in a significant fashion. Because one arm is farther from the anchor point than the other there are varying levels of instability. Simply put the arm that’s closest to the load will experience extreme and almost uncontrollable instability if form becomes amiss while the other arm has greater room for error. However, this combination further increases the difficulty as each side feels quite different, forcing the lifter to differentiate between these side-to-side variances.
The sum of these 4 factors simply means that the lifter will feel one side of the body working more than the other which further helps eliminate imbalances and symmetrical loading issues. There’s also incredible motor control, stability, core activation, postural awareness, cognitive focus, and strict mechanics needed to handle all 4 offset factors during each lift. Don’t be surprised if one side is more challenging than the other. This simply indicates an imbalance that needs to be addressed, and which these movements will target very effectively.
This same method can also be applied to eccentric overload using the same offset leverage landmine setup.
Read more about unique landmine exercises here .
Trap Bar Variations and Specialty Bars
Offset loading can also be employed on specialty bars and deadlifts as I have football athlete Ike Onike showing here with offset loading trap bar deadlifts. If you have trouble staying tight on your deadlifts and losing tension anywhere in the kinetic chain these will immediately expose it as you’ll end up tilting immediately as you pick it up. To keep perfect alignment and avoid tilting when pulling the bar from the floor, the lifter will be required to lock in every component of their body from head to toe and brace with maximal exertion.
With that said, I recommend employing the trap bar on offset deadlifts rather than the traditional barbell particularly if you pull from the floor as the offset loading combined with the weight being slightly in front of your center of mass can be tough on the spine. The trap bar allows you to start higher (due to the elevated handles) as well as keep the weight closer to your center of mass which not only helps you lock in the offset movement but also reduces stress to the spine and vertebral column.
Offset Loading Squat Jumps & Explosive Movements
Here I have two of my NFL athletes and GSP sponsored pros Julian Williams and Marcelis Branch performing offset loading barbell squat jumps.
Offset loading jumps are some of the most challenging and deceptively brutal explosive movements you can implement into your routine. It’s one thing to perform an offset movement with slow or traditional rep tempos as the nervous system can gradually adapt to the exercise. However adding an explosive jump takes the stimulus multiple steps further as the lifter not only has to calibrate to the offset loads while producing force but they also have to adjust while in the air and during landing. As a result the impact this has on deceleration, force impact, and force absorption is difficult to replicate with any other training modality.
Additionally these are incredibly challenging while airborne as the offset weight will want to twist, and tilt the body while in the air. For athletes this has tremendous carryover to the playing field as they’ll often face incoming forces and impact while they’re in the air not just when they’re on the ground. Learning to control your center of mass while in the air and not allowing an external object to pull you out of alignment can be the difference in gaining the edge over your opponent or letting them push you around. Offset jumps directly address these attributes head on. It’s also worth noting that the opposite leg from the loaded side will have a tendency to shoot up during these unless you brace the daylights out of your body. In fact you can see this occur to Marcelis during the second half of his set particularly on the first rep. However, once he dialed in his nervous system and eliminated the energy leaks he was able to control his body and the movement as you can see towards the end of the set.
WHY NOT JUST DO STANDARD SINGLE ARM VARIATIONS??
Offset training requires greater motor control and movement coordination in comparison to standard single arm variations as you're forced to synchronize two different sides of the body/limbs that want to move at two entirely different speeds. As a result this usually forces the lifter to slow things down to make this synchronized timing occur which ends up placing even greater tension on the muscles. Offset training also requires more tightness, motor control, and full body tension than just about any training method including single arm variations.
HOW MUCH OFFSET Loading?
When performing offset loading the goal is to employ as offset of a load as possible (within reason) while still being able to stay perfectly or nearly perfectly symmetrical when performing the movement. In other words both sides of the body (i.e. both limbs) should look fairly equal and symmetrical without any significant tilting, twisting, shifting, or wiggling. Simply put, if someone were to only view the lifter’s body and not the load, they would be unable to witness any difference in their body and position when comparing it to traditional training. If in fact the lifter is unable to stay symmetrical and is unable to synchronize both sides of the body, then we know the level of offset loading is too intense.
Note About the “Second Half” Offset Effect
When performing any offset loading exercise, each set will inevitably involve 2 mini sets as you’ll need to expose both sides to the heavier loading. For instance a set of offset loaded barbell squats you’ll perform 3-5 reps with the heavier weight on one side of the body, then face the other direction and perform another 3-5 reps with the heavier load on the opposite side.
What’s important to note is that the second half of the set (the last 3-5 reps) will feel exponentially more challenging than the first half. That’s because your nervous system gets used to channeling all of its neural drive to one side (the side that’s loaded) and adapts to a the offset loading with the appropriate motor unit recruitment patterns. Once you perform the second half, the nervous system has to quickly recalibrate to the opposite side of the body which can feel inordinately challenging as the offset effect feels twice as challenging.
For instance a 20 lb offset will feel approximately 20 lbs heavier on one side during the first half of the set. However for the second half of the set, the nervous system has to recalibrate to 20 lbs offset in the opposite direction, which now represents a 40 lb difference in terms of offset loading compared to the first set since the body is used to channeling all of its neural drive in the opposite direction. With that said, it’s critical that both sides of the body are exposed to the “second half” offset effect as it’s quite brutal and neuromuscularly demanding.
In terms of practical application this simply means that for each round/set the lifter should alternate which side he or she starts on. For instance if the lifter is performing 4 sets of offset squats, then sets 1 and 3 they might start with the right side (left side would receive the “second half” offset effect), and sets 2 and 4 they would start with the left side (right side would receive the “second half” offset effect). This ensures an equal offset stimulus to the entire body.
If you're looking for a training routine that involves unique movements such as these combined with your favorite strength movements for less than $2 per day, check out my daily members workouts with TRAINING REDEFINED.