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Mobility Exercise of the Week: Alternating Lateral Lunge with Overhead Reach

Written on December 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm, by Eric Cressey

It’s been a while since I introduced a mobility exercise of the week, so I figured I’d introduce a new one that we use with a lot of our athletes nowadays.

The alternating lateral lunge with overhead reach gives you all the benefits – adductor length, hip hinge “education,” and frontal plane stability – that you get with a regular lateral lunge variation.  However, by adding in the overhead reach, you get a greater emphasis on optimal core stabilization and mobility and stability at the shoulder girdle.

In this position, we’ll coach different athletes with different cues.

If it’s an athlete who is stick in an exaggerated lordotic posture, we’ll cue him to engage the anterior core and keep the ribs down as the arms go overhead.

If it’s a “desk” jockey who is very kyphotic, we may have to actually cue him “chest up” because he’s so rounded over; we have to bring him back to neutral before we even worry much about the anterior core involvement.

If it’s a high school athlete who has really depressed shoulder blades, we will actually cue him to shrug as he raises the arms to complete scapular upward rotation in the top position.

Conversely, if it’s a client is already very upper trap dominant, we may have to cue a bit more posterior tilt of the scapula during the overhead reach.

In other words, this is a great example of how you can take a good exercise and make it even more effective, especially if you individualize coaching cues as much as possible.  Try it for a set of five reps per side as part of your warm-up and let me know how it goes!

Looking for more mobility drills like this?  Be sure to check out Assess and Correct: Breaking Barriers to Unlock Performance.

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15 Responses to “Mobility Exercise of the Week: Alternating Lateral Lunge with Overhead Reach”

  1. Alex Kraszewski Says:

    Have implemented this one recently after seeing Dean Somerset recommend it. Being super stiff through my mid/upper thoracic spine it makes me hate life towards the end of my true shoulder flexion when preventing compensations!

    Are there any major differences if you’re in a touch of hip flexion as here compared to extension where the trunk is almost fully upright?

  2. Athan D Says:

    This is great Eric. Thanks!

    For someone who is upper trap dominant, is there specific cues you use to encourage posterior scapular tilt?

    -AD

  3. diego Says:

    hey eric!
    how is the best way to correct someone with a very overactive trap wherein the trap tends to take over alot more in the pulling movements?

  4. Bill Boutell Says:

    just returned from pitching coaches bootcamp in Houston and pelvis was again a big topic.Could you discuss(or refer to previous article)pelvic rotation as opposed to anterior pelvic tilt. Is amount of pelvic tilt anatomically fixed or can it be trained ?

  5. kyle Says:

    how do you cue to posteriorly tilt the scap?

    thx

  6. Eric Cressey Says:

    Bill,

    Very trainable.

    RE: pelvic rotation, are you referring to the internal/external rotation of the femur on the acetabulum (or vice versa)? Some folks refer to anterior pelvic tilt as anterior rotation of the pelvis, too. It can be a bit confusing.

  7. Eric Cressey Says:

    Diego,

    I like to give folks a target toward which to row by putting a fingertip at the inferomedial border of the scapula.

  8. Eric Cressey Says:

    Athan,

    I’ve found no better cue than to manually encourage it with my hands. Just saying “down and back” will cause most folks to over-recruit lat.

  9. Eric Cressey Says:

    Alex,

    I don’t really like folks to be totally upright, as I want them to have a chance to work on good hip hinging in neutral spine.

  10. Mark Says:

    Is it possible to get a tendonapathy (tendonosis or tendonitis) through trauma or some type of contusion to the tendon? For example, I was hip thrusting 225 without a bar pad two months ago, so the bar was digging into my pelvic area. Ever since then, I have experienced pain in that region after I complete a lower body work out (the day after usually). I get no pain during movement or when my lower body is loaded. However, the next day, the area is sore and stiff and feels like the symptoms associated with tenodonsis. If I use light weights or body weight exercises, the area feels good the next day. However, if i apply to much of a stimulus, the area becomes sore and stiff the next day. How do I go about rehabbing this injury or to trauma injuries take a little longer to clear up? Your opinion would be much appreciated. Thanks!.

  11. Mark Says:

    Thanks!

  12. Ted Says:

    Ouch.

  13. Eric Cressey Says:

    Mark,

    I don’t think direct trauma would cause a tendinopathy like that. I’d get this checked out.

  14. David Hutcheson Says:

    I have an ex professional athlete that is 45, very fit but kyphotic. He has real trouble in the overhead positions and has worked on his thoracic mobility. He can snatch and OH squat for example but will be limited in both because he is not in an optimal position. Question is, can he really change his thoracic positioning/mobility enough at his age? Is it just a lot more work he needs to do or at this point (age or structure) physically impossible?

  15. Eric Cressey Says:

    David,

    As always, the answer is “it depends.” Some folks can improve in this regard, whereas others are dealing with something that is more structural than functional in nature. I’d consult a good physical therapist in your area on this front.

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