T Nation

Asymmetrically-Loaded Bar in Squats?


The other day, while taking a rest between sets of Pendlays, I was just absentmindedly gazing around the gym, not focusing on anything, and accidentally noticed a girl squatting in a Smith with just one 5 kg (11 lbs) plate on the right side of the barbell – the other end of the barbell being empty.

From my previous experience, I know that sometimes when, for example, overly tired and unfocused, one might load the bar unevenly without noticing it (I myself have accidentally mixed 5 and 2.5 kg plates on squats once or twice). So I decided to pay her attention to this fact – in case she also hasn’t noticed it (cause, I guess, it is somewhat easier to not notice a slight asymmetry in loads in the Smith than with free weights). I politely excused myself, said that I have noticed that her bar was loaded unevenly, and just wanted to pay her attention to that – just in case she hasn’t noticed it.

And the girl started explaining me something: that it was exactly how she wanted it; that since she was doing it in the Smith, the load distribution is different (??? I honestly didn’t get that part); etc.

So I just said: Sorry again, just wanted to pay your attention – so you don’t injure yourself. But I know, it is not any of my business.

And went away.

I guess it really was not my business, to start with: may the people in the gym be doing whatever and however they want. I acted as a smartass – exactly the way I myself hate people behaving in the gym :)) So, shame on me :slight_smile:

But since that day on I cannot find peace :)) I have googled “purposes of uneven barbell loading on squats” – cause I became immensely curious why someone would think of doing it or why someone would advise to do it: for physical therapy? rehabilitation purposes? to fix some muscle imbalances? Cause, judging by the way the girl was squatting, she was not quite experienced in what she was doing – and I really think that she has not made it up herself.

Maybe you have some ideas: what are the purposes of unevenly loaded barbell squats (whether in Smith or free).

(P.S. I am a girl myself, and my purpose was not to hit on a lady in a gym :slight_smile: I was just genuinely a bit worried for her, although I know that an empty bar (in a Smith!) with a 5 kg plate is not smth you can possibly injure yourself with.)


You would hardly notice a smith machine being asymmetrically loaded.
If you want asymmetrical work, single limb movements/loading will probably cover your bases.


I really wouldn’t advise doing this with serious amounts of weight…


I read an article once (maybe here, not sure) about some coach who had a bad habit of unevenly loading bars which ended up being used successfully as a training tool to improve bracing and stability.

I mean, it’s dangerous and there have got to be better ways of doing it but I can see how it’d work.


It’s used to strengthen the abs


But never on a Smith lol. That’s too much bullshit in one exercise


From what I recall from a documentary and some other sources I watched… It was used by Bulgarian Lifters for various lifts whilst training under Ivan Abadjiev, using the Bulgarian Method. Basically, Abadjiev always sat at the same spot in the training hall and they would use that to their advantage by misloading the plates such that one side was to the supposed training weight and the other side lighter. They would then proceed to clean and jerk/squat said weight. This was done as the Bulgarian Method was basically a balls to the wall train close to max everyday method and they probably need a break. Will post link to videos if I can find them later.


“one sided of the bar loaded to 160 and one sided loaded to 230”


Ok, I see your point.

I have also found some articles about asymmetric loading, for example, in deadlifts (to the point of loading just one end of the bar – and leaving the other one empty) – as a way of somehow improving your lifts. But I was not sure they looked quite reliable to me, and anyway that really sounded way too risky for a non-professional lifter to play around with – by no means for a novice or even intermediate lifter.

And I have also found some articles and videos on asymmetrically loaded squats (also here, on T-Nation, called in the article Russel squats, https://www.t-nation.com/training/4-scary-new-ways-to-squat) – but they were specifically advised for experienced lifters, looking to perfect their lifts – not for newbies.

But that girl was definitely nothing like an experienced lifter (squatting in Smith… 11 lbs plate… shaky, painful form…)

So, as far as I understand so far from the responses, it is NOT something that is considered to be USUAL practice by the powerlifting community: not some usual training method? Cause I was thinking: maybe I have missed smth in all my readings.


That would be correct.


I don’t know bout y’all but I’ve met some pretty anal powerlifters. Some of them would get annoyed if the plates aren’t arranged as if they were at a meet or something. To be fair, that was when I was training at a place with Eleiko competition plates so maybe they were doing their meet prep or a self mock meet or something.