Lunges are a great exercise for building your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Since they’re done using one leg at a time, each leg is trained equally. Lunges also offer carryover for many sports that require you to move explosively off one leg. This includes basketball, soccer, and tennis. Even if you don’t play these sports they’re still beneficial. My wife does them regularly because they improve her performance when running stairs and build strong and shapely legs that look great in shorts and skirts.
Once you can perform regular lunges you need to begin performing more difficult variations to continue making progress. Fortunately, there are many ways to do lunges and none require lots of extra equipment. One of my favorites is the overhead lunge. That’s because it’s a total body exercise that helps you kill several muscle building birds with one stone. In addition to training leg muscle your core, shoulders, and upper back will get a great workout. You’ll burn more calories too.
Overhead Lunges – Step By Step Instructions
Below are instructions and a video demonstration that shows you how to perform an overhead lunge. While I use a kettlebell you can also use a dumbbell if you don’t own or have access to this equipment.
1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart while holding a kettlebell in one hand.
2. Press the kettlebell overhead. Stand up straight with your shoulders back and core muscles tight.
3. Begin the lunge by stepping as far forward as comfortably possible. Continue to hold the weight overhead.
4. Once your front foot contacts the ground, complete the lunge by bending your knee and lunging forward and squatting down. Lunge until your knee is at about a 90 degree angle. Your knee shouldn’t move past your toes. Allow the heel of your non-lunging foot to come off the ground. Continue to hold the kettlebell overhead.
5. Finish the lunge by returning to the starting position. Push from your front foot forcefully, using your glutes and hamstrings. Keep the weight overhead.
6. Without putting the weight down, repeat steps 1-5 for the desired number of repetitions.
7. Once you’ve completed each rep, rest and repeat using the opposite leg.
Overhead Lunge – Video Demonstration
When performing overhead lunges make sure you keep your shoulders pulled back and abs tight throughout every phase of the exercise. Remember to breath out when lunging forward and in when returning to the starting position. This makes doing the exercise properly much easier.
I also recommend using a weight that’s much lighter than you use when performing normal lunges. Most people find they need to decrease the weight they’re using by 10-15 lbs. Holding the weight overhead takes a minute to get used to and using too heavy a weight will throw off your form.
Sets And Reps
Since overhead lunges are a demanding exercise, I recommend performing doing 2-3 sets of 3-6 repetitions per leg at first. Increase the number of sets reps you do as your strength increases.
When Should You Perform Overhead Lunges?
I always do overhead lunges at the beginning of my workout. They require a lot more upper and lower body balance, endurance, and strength to perform than regular lunges. Doing them after you’ve performed other exercises is likely to leave you fatigued and unable to perform them with proper form.
Once you can perform 5 sets of 5 reps while holding a weight overhead in one hand it’s time to increase the weight used or move on to more challenging variations. Below are a couple for you to try.
1. Hold a weight overhead in each hand.
2. Perform a shoulder press after each lunge.
3. Perform shoulder presses while in the lunge position.
4. Perform walking lunges where you lunge for 25-40 yards while holding a weight overhead.
5. Hold a sandbag overhead instead of a dumbbell or kettlebell.
Now you know a new leg exercise that will build your shoulders, back, arms, and abs at the same time. Give them a try for a couple of weeks and you’ll see for yourself how effective overhead lunges are for building your entire body.