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Fitness Trail: Try out this amazing total body workout

Performing lunges with a unilateral overhead press, demonstrated in these two pictures, can be an amazing workout for the entire body.
Courtesy Jackie Wright
Performing lunges with a unilateral overhead press, demonstrated in these two pictures, can be an amazing workout for the entire body.
Courtesy Jackie Wright

Lunges with a unilateral overhead press are an amazing total body exercise, which may be integrated into your exercise program as a compound exercise component.

Three variations of this compound exercise will be described so that you may perform it from the foundational level with body weight as the only resistance before progressing to dumbbells and kettlebells as you increase the intensity level. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Perform two to three sets of 10-12 repetitions of one of these versions two to three times a week on nonconsecutive days. If this is your first time performing this exercise, begin with version No. 1, master it, and then consider version Nos. 2 or 3.



Warmup for five to 10 minutes, elevating the ratings of perceived exertion to very light or light. Good movement choices are full body in nature such as squats, lunges, pushups, step touches, light jogging or marching with no external load.

Set up first by standing up tall, completely vertical with shoulders packed back and down, ribcage lifted, navel pulled toward your spine and the knees relaxed.



Version No. 1 (floor) — Begin with the right leg staggered forward and the left leg trailing behind, creating a long stride so that the right knee will track directly over the right heel throughout the lunge, with the weight predominately in the right heel.

The width between the right and left leg should be approximately shoulder distance (i.e., think of two different railroad tracks).

Your shoulders, hips, knees and toes should all be facing forward and the back heel should remain elevated throughout the exercise.

Bring the left fist up to shoulder height with the palm facing the opposite wall, elbow at chin height—therefore, arm is positioned at 90 degrees.

As you lower the body into the lunge, flexing at the right hip and both knees, keep the left arm in position at shoulder height, palm continuing to face the opposite wall.

As you press up into the beginning extended leg position with both legs, press the arm up into an overhead press fully extending the elbow joint.

Complete your reps on this side and then repeat on the other side.

Version No. 2 (floor and moderate dumbbell) — Set up and perform the exact same exercise, however, now with one moderate dumbbell in the hand of the pressing arm.

Make certain that you are able to press the arm overhead safely and effectively without shifting the pelvis forward, hyperextending your lumbar spine or impairing your lunge technique.

Version No. 3 (floor and kettlebell) — Set up and perform the exact same exercise, but with one moderate kettlebell in the hand of the pressing arm.

Rack the kettlebell so that the base of the kettle rests on the back of the hand, not the palm.

Avoid permitting the wrist to “break,” and keep it in neutral throughout the exercise.

If you would like to further challenge yourself during this exercise and need more intensity — perform the lunges from a 4-8 inch step platform or BOSU Balance Trainer.

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager Mountain Life Fitness in Granby. She may be reached at her website at http://www.mtnlifefitness.com and her email at jackie@mtnlifefitness.com.


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