The exercises many people do in the gym is not necessarily transferable to things in your everyday life. There are a ton of people who train in the gym and become fitter, stronger and look better for it, which is great. But put them in a real-life situation where they actually need to be strong for survival, their gym strength may not be all that transferable to real situations.

So looking at resistance machines, it costs about £4000 for the average machine, and it performs one exercise. Not only that, the exercise for most people isn’t very helpful. When you sit on the seat of a resistance machine you are put in a fairy tale land.

  • You are performing a movement that is far removed from the actual movements you would need to be strong for.
  • You are sitting down, which is unrealistic and takes out most of your core activation.
  • Human beings instinctively move in certain ways, machines make you move in unnatural and unrealistic ways. So when you need to use your strength in a quick situation, the way you move will be nothing like that of a resistance machine movement.
  • The weight that you are moving is perfectly balanced on each side/limb which is again unrealistic.

I could go on, but these are the main points. This is just so you understand it better, and I am by no means a hypocrite if I use a machine with a client, because sometimes they have a purpose, sometimes.

This last month I have been developing a different way to train my clients. I’ve called it: Offset Momentum Training. Many people train in a fairy tale like situation, but this method of training is completely realistic. This method of training is not a list of new exercises, but rather a concept, so I want to teach you the concept, but, I will give you a couple of example exercises with this.

So first I will break down what Offset Momentum Training actually is

By offset, I mean having uneven weights on what it is you are lifting. For example, instead of pushing two 5kg dumbbells above your head, have one that’s 5kg and one that’s 7kg, alternating for each set. So that’s what I mean by offset, having uneven weight distribution.

What do I mean by momentum? Let’s look at the shoulder press exercises again, where you press a weight above your head. Normally this is done with movement coming only from the arms. But doing it with momentum allows you to use many more muscles in order to achieve the lift, so for example, instead of only moving the arms, you will now gather energy from all parts of the body to throw the weight up, you can do this by squatting down a little and then launching the weight up by the strength of your legs as well as your shoulders.

I was watching the film 2012, there was a part in the film where the big rich man is trying to save his son’s life. In order to do this, he needed to throw his son above his head for people higher up to catch him. So if by chance this man trained in the gym, what exercise do you think would be more likely to help his son? A shoulder press with no momentum, or a shoulder press with momentum? My point is this when you need to use your strength for a real-life situation, you won’t care less about you’re technique looking nice and pretty or whether it is safe or not, you will do anything you can to survive. This is what Offset Momentum Training is all about.

So here I will explain a couple of movements a human will need to be functionally strong.

  • Pushing: E.g. pushing something off you, pushing a car while someone tries to get it started.

Try something now as you read this, imagine you are trying to push something off you, note how you do it. The natural way a human instinctively pushes something is by starting with the elbows close to your ribs, hands up roughly in line with your shoulders, and then extending your arms out forward. What common gym machine exercises teach you is to have your elbows up in line with your shoulders as you push. This is an unrealistic suboptimal position, our instincts are smarter than this. So, if you want to become stronger for reality via training in the gym, try using one of the cable machines, set it so you can stand up and push weight in front of you with two hands using the handles. Now the difference is this, the weight does not have to be the same on each side, and your technique can be based on momentum rather than isolated muscular strength. So just throw the weight out any way your body instinctively does so, also, try doing it with an open hand as opposed to gripping your fingers all around the handle, as your more likely to push something off you with flat hands.

  • Pulling: E.g. pulling your own bodyweight up over a brick wall, climbing a rope, climbing trees and scaffolding.

A lat pulldown machine is great for building muscle and increasing your strength for doing… pulldowns, but this strength may not hold a person who needs to scale a brick wall. This exercise is just too unlike climbing a wall for it to really help. Pull-ups, on the other hand, is a true test of someone’s upper body strength. You can do this in the gym or you could just find a wall to pull yourself up from, but again the difference is this: You will now use all the momentum you can possibly use to achieve the pull-up.

It’s a completely logical and realistic way to train. This is why people in the army do assault courses because it is realistic training.

What I’m talking about is the concept and how you can apply this concept to most exercises. Just think of a typical exercise you would normally do, but use momentum to do whatever it is, instead of being all perfect about it, and if you are lifting weights, try lifting uneven weights then alternate them. There is an element of risk involved if your body is not used to this, so please start out light.

Also, I am by no means against perfect technique, this is merely another option for you when you exercise, you don’t have to take it as seriously as I do! And just for the record, a muscle can only get bigger or smaller, you cannot change its actual shape, so don’t be worried that this kind of training will give you weird shaped muscles.

I believe our natural instinct is sophisticated beyond the intelligence of our thoughts.