About a year and a half ago I had a client, who had a diagnosed history of non-specific lower back pain. He had been dealing with this pain for 3 years since moving a refrigerator. The pain wasn't debilitating and often felt better after being active, but it was a constant nag otherwise. He had been released by his doctor and physical therapist to begin exercise. So I took him through my usual evaluation process which included a postural assessment and the FMS. What I found was that this guy had awful posture, a classic upper lower cross syndrome. In addition his active straight leg raise, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability scores were atrocious. Based on all this I started him on basic correctives and a few mobilizations that I believed to be appropriate. These did begin to help and over the short time I had a chance to work with him the pain improved, but here is the kicker elimination of his back pain wasn't his major focus. I mean he had lived with it for a couple years and had rather accepted it. His main goal was to look better and get healthier as is most.

This is the dilemma as a trainer I often face, I find clients who have problems that need to be addressed in addition to wants they want fulfilled. And when you look at personal training it is simply a service driven business meaning the customer and there wants come first. In this particular instance I had to find a way to both help improve my clients back pain, avoid placing him in any situations which might risk aggravating the back pain, and all while still obtaining a training stimulus that would elicit his desired changes. Needless to say I had to get a bit creative with exercise selection and execution.

My reason for sharing the story of this client is because this week's exercise of the week is one I used quite a bit with him and it offers benefits for the masses as well.

What I like About It

There are three major advantages that make this a great exercise. First, it reduces the amount of force that is placed on the spine by placing the individual in a position that makes it easier for one to obtain and maintain a neutral spine. Second it allows exposure to a position of hip separation and allows the individual to get length throughout their hip flexor and Lats on the working side. Last, it provides a challenge for the executioner to maintain a stable and level torso because he/she must resist lateral flexion on the non-working side. I highly recommend using this exercise as a great alternative for traditional overhead pressing.

How to Perform the Half-Kneeling One-Arm Overhead Press

1. Begin by assuming a half kneeling position. This can also be referred to as the bottom of the lunge position. One leg should bent 90 degrees at the knee and flexed 90 degrees at the hip in front of your body with your foot flat on the floor and directly under your knee. While the opposite leg should be bent 90 degrees at the knee and extended at the hip to 180 degrees. This legs knee should be placed directly under your hip.

2. Pick-up the dumbbell on the same side as your down leg. Curl the dumbbell to shoulder height. Pronate your hand about half way so that the dumbbell is held at 45 degree ankle and your palm is not facing toward your body.

3. Press the dumbbell overhead maintaining a neutral spine and head position. Make sure during the pressing movement your shoulders remain level and you do not lean away from your pressing arm.

4. Lock the weight out with your arm straight arm straight, head neutral, and wrist straight.

5. Lower the weight in the same path and return it to the start position.

6. Perform all reps in this fashion, repeat for the prescribed reps, and switch your legs arms to complete reps on the opposite arm.

Below is a video of me demonstrating the setup and the full movement of the exercise. Enjoy!


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