Building High-Performance Muscle™

Real Core Training: Offset Loading


Real Core Training: Offset Loading

Here's what you need to know...

Offset loading is using a higher load on one side of the body. The greater the difference in resistance from one side to the other, the greater the offset and the greater the demands on stability.

Breakdowns occur when a weak core prevents you from applying all the force you can generate to the bar. The use of offset loading can help place a higher demand on core function.

Offset exercises are not meant to replace the main lifts but supplement them. They're best performed with reps in the 6-12 range.

In your never-ending quest for size, strength, and overall athletic dominance, you'll eventually run into a plateau. And it will test you. You'll de-load, change your movements, and try different programs. In the end you'll lose countless hours of sleep thinking about it and probably try some really harebrained fixes.

Forget that scenario. Let's identify the issue and fix it. For most, breakdown occurs when we can no longer apply all the force we can generate to the bar. There's a leak in the energy chain, which usually shows up at the core (trunk and hips), so that's where we need to focus our efforts. An efficient way to place a higher demand on core function is through offset loading.


Offset Loading

When you miss a rep or find yourself not being able to push more weight, energy is not only lost anteriorly and posteriorly, but also laterally and rotationally. Your trunk rotates and your knees buckle, causing energy to be lost and force to be dissipated before it can reach the bar.

These lateral and rotational breakdowns aren't fully addressed through typical loading, but using offset loads can help by developing greater core stability and strength, which provides a base for more force transfer, more strength, and ultimately what we're all chasing – bigger numbers with our main lifts.


Setting Up Offset Loads

Offset Loads

At its simplest, offset loading is using a higher load on one side of the body. This can be accomplished by holding a heavier weight in one hand compared to the other, holding weight only on one side of the body, or loading a bar more on one side. The greater the difference in resistance from one side to the other, the greater the offset and the greater the demands on stability.

For example, if you're doing farmer's walks with an 80-pound load in one hand and a 60-pound load in the other, you'll have a 20-pound offset, with a total load of 140 pounds. Now if you're to use a 100-pound load in one hand and a 40-pound load in the other you'll have a 60-pound offset, but still a total load of 140 pounds.

The greater offset will demand more core stability and strength to maintain a neutral spine while still using the same overall load. Being able to use the same load with a higher demand on core function is another benefit of offset loads, and another reason offset loading will help you break through strength plateaus.


How to Program Offset Loads

You should still have the main lifts as your base when implementing offset loads into your program. You can decrease the intensity of the main lifts slightly and move the weight quicker (less weight, more speed), or at least not try to push a new PR right away as you introduce the offset loads.

The exercises in which you use the offset loads should be the second or third exercises in your program (i.e., your B1, B2, C1, or C2 exercises). They're not meant to replace the main lifts but supplement them, and are best performed with reps in the 6-12 range.


Putting it All Together

Here's a sample two-day full body program that takes advantage of offset loading and will help you break through strength plateaus. Rest as long as needed between paired exercises. When using the offset loads, make sure to focus on keeping the spine and hips neutral and your core stable. Don't allow yourself to be pulled or rotated towards the heavier load, and don't over compensate by leaning away from the heavier load.

Day 1

  Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Trap-Bar Deadlift 4 5-6
A2 Incline Barbell Bench 4 5-6
B1 Single-Arm Dumbbell Walking Lunge 3-4 8*
Hold the dumbbell in one hand and complete 8 reps, then switch hands and complete 8 more reps.
B2 TRX Inverted Row 3-4 8
C1 Glute-Ham Raise 3 10
C2 Single-Arm Bent Over Dumbbell Row 3 8**
Hinge at the hips and maintain a neutral spine as you row a dumbbell with one hand for 8 reps before switching to the other. Don't allow yourself to rotate or side bend.
D Offset Dumbbell Farmers Walk 3-5 40-50y.
Hold the heaviest weight you can in one hand and one roughly 25% lighter in the other for 40-50 yards and then switch hands and repeat for another 40-50 yards.
Offset Loads Kettlebells


Day 2

  Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Front Squat to Box 4 5-6
A2 Pull-Up 4 5-6
B1 Offset Single Dumbbell Leg Deadlift 3-4 8*
Hold a heavier dumbbell in the hand on the opposite side of the down leg and a lighter dumbbell (roughly 25% lighter) in the hand of the same side of the down leg.
B2 Single-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Press 3-4 8**
C1 Offset Step Dumbbell Step Up 3 8**
Hold a heavier dumbbell in the hand on the opposite side of the down leg and a lighter dumbbell (roughly 25% lighter) in the hand of the same side of the down leg.
C2 Single-Leg Push Up 3 6**
D Offset Dumbbell Farmers Walk 3-5 40-50y.
Hold the heaviest weight you can in one hand and roughly 25% lighter in the other for 40-50 yards. Switch hands and repeat for another 40-50 yards.


New PRs

The next time you find yourself stuck in a strength plateau, try offset loading. It's not meant to replace going after the main lifts, but taking advantage of the higher demand on core stability and strength offered through offset loading will help fix energy leaks and prepare your body to reach new PRs.



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