How often do you carry or lift uneven weights in real life? When you carry groceries are they even? When you pack your grocery bags they’re not always even but while you’re carrying them your body will tell you “switch”, and you’ll do so because that’s common sense.
What is an imbalance? In context, an imbalance is the lack of proportion or relation between corresponding muscles. Think one side stronger than the other; one side tighter than the other; one side overused, etc.
How does one create an imbalance? To create an imbalance in the body takes an incredible amount of repetitions under the same incorrect conditions. Using uneven weights over a long period of time and never swapping. Overusing one side through incorrect muscle engagement (favoring one side due to injury or laziness etc.).
If you believe that off-balance or uneven weight training creates imbalance, doesn’t training unilaterally then do the same thing? You’d have to believe that training with one kettlebell/dumbbell on one side would have the same effect. Think shoulder press on one side. But you don’t think that because you know that you’ll program 10 reps on the left and 10 on the right, just as you would when using uneven weights.
Why should you train with uneven weights? What are the benefits of training with uneven weights?
- Uneven weight requires more core control
- Variable resistance requires more coordination
- Create functional strength
- Muscles confusion
- Work with functional movement patterns based on real-world situational biomechanics
All of the above makes this type of training harder, and something harder creates better results when performed and programmed properly for the right reasons.
When you train with uneven weights the difference should not be too huge, with kettlebells as a general rule 4kg/8.8lbs difference is good. But, it will also depend on what exercise you’re performing and how conditioned you are to that exercise and weight difference.
Unbalanced weights can make walking with them more unstable, which is a good thing when training to challenge and improve stability. However, I’m off the opinion that walking with unilateral weights makes more sense and that you can get more benefit from uneven weights during loaded movements, think shoulder press, chest press, snatch, jerk, and other lifts.
When should you train with uneven weights?
Only after you’ve mastered the unilateral version of the exercise, progressed to the bilateral version of the exercise, and are ready to progress to the next step.
Include uneven weight training in your program when you’re ready for it and progress to new levels of strength, stability, and control. Use variables resistance when your goals call for it, program it as an accessory lift to your main ones.
Come and discuss this further on: