One Perfect Move: Master the Overhead Walking Lunge

Strength is the name of the game for 12-time CrossFit Games competitor Rebecca Voigt Miller, so who better to give her pick for a supermove to build you up?

“This weighted walking lunge is a great exercise for your legs, but it also strengthens the arms, shoulders, and core,” says Voigt Miller, also coach and owner of CrossFit Training Yard in Toluca Lake, California and a Reebok athlete.

The mechanics may be straightforward—alternate lunging while holding dumbbells overhead—but the allover impact on your body is nuanced. For one, “holding the weight overhead while lunging requires a great deal of balance,” she says. “Numerous muscle groups are recruited to achieve stability throughout.” (It's the ultimate compound exercise.)

Now, let’s talk about how heavy to go with your dumbbells. “A moderate to heavy weight—whatever that is for you—is beneficial, but it can be equally challenging with light weights,” says Voigt Miller. Even those will engage the core more, which is part of the magic of this move. If you don't have two dumbbells, you can hoist one heavy dumbbell or kettlebell overhead, like Voigt Miller demonstrates in this video.

Just remember: “This movement isn’t about just brute force. It requires skill to perform correctly,” she says. “Once you get it right, there’s definitely a sense of accomplishment.”

Some pointers, before you go at it:

  • Establish a strong starting position, actively pushing the weights overhead and bracing your core.
  • Keep the weights directly above your shoulders, and don’t let them swing out to the sides or too far in front of or behind your body. Also, look straight ahead; this will help keep your back in proper alignment.
  • Maintain shoulder-width foot placement with each step. Putting one foot directly in front of the other may cause you to lose your balance. Drive through both legs upon standing, not just the leading leg.

How to Do an Overhead Walking Lunge

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart and core engaged holding a dumbbell in each hand. Clean weights up to front rack position so they rest on top of shoulders, then press them overhead to start, keeping core engaged.

B. Brace core and take a big step forward with the right foot, lowering until knees for 90-degree angles.

C. Push off the back foot and press into the front foot to stand with weight centered over both feet. Squeeze glutes at the top.

D. Take a big step forward with the left foot to do a rep on the opposite side.

Try to do 5 sets of 10 reps (5 per side).

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