The Fitness Trail: Lunges with unilateral overhead press |

The Fitness Trail: Lunges with unilateral overhead press

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For the past two weeks, body weight exercises such as the full body extensions and knee/squats with biceps curls have been our focus and this, our final week on this topic for this year, will be lunges combined with a unilateral overhead press. As in the last two columns, 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, progressing eventually to utilizing dumbbells and kettlebells and significantly increasing the intensity level. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

*Perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions of one of the versions, 2-3 times/week on non-consecutive days. If you have never performed this exercise before, begin with version #1, master it and then consider version 2 or 3.

**Warm-up for 5-10 minutes elevating the ratings of perceived exertion to a 1-2, which is very light to light exertion. Good movement choices are full body in nature such as squats, lunges, pushups, step touches, light jogging or marching.

***Set up first by standing up tall, completely vertical, head/neck in neutral, shoulders rotated back/down, ribcage lifted, navel pulled toward your spine, pelvic floor pulled up and in and the knees relaxed.

Lunges with unilateral overhead presses – 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).

• Shoulders/hips/knees/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 chest height.

• As you lower the body into the lunge, flexing at the right hip and both knees, press the left arm toward the ceiling, palm continuing to face the opposite wall fully extending the left elbow.

• Then, as you press up into the beginning extended leg position on both legs (i.e. you must fully extend both knee joints without locking), lower the left arm back to shoulder height and repeat.

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

Lunges with unilateral overhead press – 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 safely and effectively press the arm overhead without shifting the pelvis forward, hyperextending your lumbar spine or impairing your lunge technique.

• Lunges with unilateral overhead press – Version #3 – floor and kettlebell

• Set up and perform the exact same exercise, however, now 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,” keep it in neutral throughout the exercise.

*Need more intensity? Perform the lunges from a 4-8 inch step platform or BOSU Balance Trainer.

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at, her email at, her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.

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