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Get Moving Monday: Reverse Lunge with Overhead Press

Looking to strengthen your lower body, shoulders, and core? Give this reverse lunge variation a try. An effective alternative to forward lunges, this exercise adds several extra benefits.

Muscles Targeted

The main muscles you strengthen with the rear lunge are similar to those targeted by the forward lunge. The target muscles are the quadriceps at the front of your upper legs. The synergist muscles, or the muscles that help in the movement, are your gluteus maximus or biggest glute muscles, the adductor magnus in your inner thighs and your soleus in your calves.

Your hamstrings in the back of your thighs and your gastrocnemius in your calves act as dynamic stabilizers. They stabilize your knee joint during the exercise and are also strengthened. Your erector spinae and quadratus lumborum in your lower back as well as your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus act as stabilizers to maintain your posture. Because they don't do any significant movements during the exercise, they're strengthened to a lesser degree.

  • Primary Muscles:

  1. Glutes

  2. Quadriceps

  3. Hamstrings

  4. Core

  5. Shoulders

  • Secondary Muscles

  1. Hips

  2. Upper Back

  3. Chest

  4. Triceps

Who Should Perform This Exercise

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate

Not only are reverse lunges easier for beginners to perform, they are preferable for those with joint issues because they require less balancing than a forward lunge. Still, beginners and seasoned gym rats alike can benefit from reverse lunges. They provide a challenging workout regardless of fitness level due to the fact that you are moving in a direction different from your day-to-day life.

Exercise Benefits

The reverse lung shoulder press strengthens the core, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and shoulders. This compound exercise:

  • Boosts the metabolism

  • Trims down body fat

  • Increases muscle power and strength

  • Sculpts the entire body

How to Perform the Renegade Row

Equipment needed: Set of dumbbells.

  • Stand straight with your feet together, and your toes pointed forward, holding the weights at your shoulders with your palms facing out.

  • Step your right foot back behind your body, coming into a lunge, while simultaneously bending your left knee and lowering your hips.

  • Keep your torso straight. Stop when your knee is at a 90-degree angle and your left thigh is parallel to the floor.

  • Pause slightly and push with your left leg, squeezing your glutes to stand up, bringing your left knee forward so it is even with your left hip while raising your arms above your head. Be sure to have good control of the motion.

  • Without touching the floor with your left foot, step back into the lunge to start your second rep.

  • Complete the desired number (try 10-15) of repetitions and switch legs.

Important Form Considerations

  • Shoulder/Hip Alignment - Keep your torso upright throughout the entire exercise

  • Knee/Foot Alignment - Always point your toes in the same direction as your knee and don't let your front knee extend beyond your ankle. As you step back, your knee should also not go past your toes

  • Proper Warm Up - Start your workout by performing a few sets of bodyweight lunges before adding weight to the move. The bodyweight exercises will warm up your muscles and joints and prepare them for the work ahead

  • Post-Exercise Stretch - Always end your workout with a stretch to lengthen your muscles, maintain flexibility and help your muscles to recover from the exercise


  • Easier: Perform the exercise without dumbbells -- bodyweight only

  • Harder: Strap on a weighted vest for an extra challenge

~Dolores Harrell, CHC, CPT, CN, TES

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