Shake table testing is one of the more effective experimental approaches used to study and evaluate seismic performance of structures. Reduced-scale models can still result in large-scale specimens where incorporating the required inertial mass effectively and safely can be challenging. This study proposes a new system of arranging the mass in the experiments that combines the realism of mass participation during earthquake excitation when supported by the shake table with laboratory practicality considerations of the mass positioned off the specimen. The characteristics and dynamic motion equations for the proposed system are described and applied to shake table experiments involving large-scale cantilevered columns. Using data from large-scale experiments to validate a numerical model, the proposed approach was numerically compared to two other testing approaches. Based on the measured performance and the validated numerical simulations, it can be concluded that the proposed inertial mass system can result in seismic performance as if the mass was placed directly on top of the specimen. Combined with the advantages of reduced setup time, incorporating safety restraints and direct measurement of inertial loads, the proposed system can be suitably used for effective shake table testing of large-scale specimens taken to non-linear near-collapse performance levels.