Asymmetrical bar training (ABT) can help clients enhance their sense of balance while improving their core strength and rotational power.

ABT uses a rigid bar with resistance on only one end to create an unbalanced—or asymmetrical—load that introduces the transverse (rotational) plane of motion into the exercise. Picture doing a bench press on a stability ball but loading only one side of the Olympic bar. The uneven load forces the body to rotate toward the heavier side. This triggers the body’s instinct to right itself and stabilize the spine, calling on core muscles to resist rotation. This antirotation is a critical component for spine health and core performance (McGill 2010).

Now imagine the same type of pressing exercise performed standing upright with the bar connected to a cable cross-over machine. The horizontal angle of force and uneven load are a challenge to core strength, posture and balance, making asymmetrical bar training a unique and effective training modality.


ABT is a great way to activate the core, awaken the proprioceptive system and engage in full-range movement patterns prior to more intense exercise. Engaging in a simple marching pattern with arms extended off the chest while standing facing the anchor, facing sideways from it and facing away from the anchor for 30 seconds per side will get the system charged up and ready for action.


Watch this brief video to get ideas on how to incorporate asymmetrical bar training into your programming.

For more ways to use asymmetrical bar training, plus a much wider discussion of the topic and a full reference list, please see “Raising The Bar” in the online IDEA Library or in the January 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.


McGill, S. 2010. Core training: Evidence translating to better performance and injury prevention. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 32 (3), 33-46.

Pete Holman, MSPT

Pete Holman, MSPT, is a physical therapist, certified strength & conditioning specialist and US National taekwondo champion and team captain. His passion for health and fitness has stimulated a successful adjunct career as an inventor. He produced several products, most notably the TRX® Rip Trainer and the Nautilus Glute Drive. Specializing in biomechanics, core performance and the aging athlete, Pete uses his experience as an elite level athlete and his unique knowledge of the human body, to bring out the athlete in us all. Pete is an active contributor to PTontheNet, IDEA Fitness Journal, STACK Magazine and IronMan Magazine.

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