Offset training — loading one side of your body — makes lower-body exercises like the lunge and split squat more challenging.
When performing offset lunges, holding the weight in the hand opposite your working leg engages your glutes more; while holding it in the other hand emphasizes your quads.
Offset training can also be a useful upper-body training strategy. For example, performing a dumbbell bench press while holding dumbbells of different weights in each hand.
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.