Use Offset Leverage To Boost Your Bench & Back

Use Offset Leverage To Boost Your Bench and Upper Body Strength

Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.

Lets face it, how often in real life scenarios do we ever get to push or pull a symmetrical load or object in symmetrical fashion, with a perfectly symmetrical range of motion?  Pretty rarely actually.  With this in mind, periodically incorporating offset training protocols into your routine is a great way to mimic and simulate real-life practical scenarios while still training functional movement patterns.  Here I have NFL running back Marquel Beckwith (@28_beckwith) performing a floor chest press and bent over row variation using the offset leverage protocol on a landmine station.  

I’m a huge fan of offset training as it provides a very unique stimulus not only to the primary movers but to the stabilizers and core musculature (read more about Offset Training Here). It’s also incredibly effective for improving motor control, stability, symmetry, and overall muscle function not to mention functional strength and hypertrophy. Although most forms of offset training involve only one offset component (typically weight), the landmine offset leverage protocol involves 4 as there is a quadruple offset effect.   

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.

I recommend performing several sets of 3-5 reps per side while taking your time between reps to ensure proper setup and body positioning on every repetition.  Once you return to normal bench press variations and rows don’t be surprised if you can handle more weight with greater control and more dialed in mechanics.

Offset Leverage Landmine Deadlift

Offset leverage loading using the landmine station is also incredibly effective when applied to the deadlift as demonstrated by my awesome client Ben Lai. That’s because weak core activation and lack of spinal rigidity are two very common problems I see on deadlifts and this particular variation addresses both.  

Although a variety of deadlift setups can be used for this variation I’ve found conventional deadlift positioning to be the most strenuous followed closely by the squat stance deadlift setup. Just be prepared to brace your core like never before.

Lastly, this offset leverage landmine technique can be applied to a number of movements including the lunge, bicep curl, pullover, hinge, overhead press, tricep extension and most movement variations.

If you’re looking for a training program and instructional guide that teaches you how to incorporate different movements such as these into your training routine, check out my Complete Templates Series