April 10, 2024

Overhead Strength, Mobility, and Stability


By Dr. Carla DiGirolamo MD, CFL1


This week’s workout focuses on a key area that often falls through the cracks and that is overhead strength, mobility, and stability. Moving weight overhead is a functional movement required for everyday activities such as lifting a box or any heavy object overhead to place on a high shelf.


This skill also can elevate athletic performance in sports that require core strength and stability, shoulder mobility, and balance.


Many athletes – at all levels – can be a little intimidated by movements that require balancing weight overhead. However, the magic happens when you venture outside of your comfort zone. If you want to level up your fitness, these movements will take you there.


Why should midlife women do this workout?

  •  Joint health: Promotes mobility in the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.
  •  Bone health: Weight-bearing stimulus to the spine and hips – where osteoporosis tends to strike!
  •  Muscle and metabolic health: Adding burpees to any movement levels up the cardiovascular stimulus so you can burn fat, care for your heart, and build muscle all in one workout.


If you have never done these movements before or have mobility limitations, that’s no problem! This workout can be done without weight using household items such as a broomstick, a can of beans, or a shoe. So, no excuses today, my friends! Performing these movements without extra load is a win – performing them WITH weight is a bonus!

For more workouts made specifically for the needs of mid-life women, check out my blog Athletic Aging!


Warm Up


TABATA 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest x 8 rounds (4 minutes)

Perform each movement in sequence until you have completed 4 rounds of the two movements.


Movement Practice


Watch the videos and select your movement options:

Movement 1


Movement 2


Take 5-10 minutes to select your options and your weights. Select a light to moderate weight where you can confidently do 10 repetitions unbroken. All movements should be performed unbroken. This is a “sprint” type workout that has a short duration and moderate to high intensity. If you are just learning, take it a little lighter and slower.

TIP! These are complex movements! Maintain sound mechanics while moving efficiently. Using an empty bar or broomstick is an excellent option if you are just learning how to do this movement.




AMRAP 12 (As many rounds as possible in 12 minutes). Perform 1 overhead squat, then 7 bar-facing burpees, then 2 overhead squats, then 7 burpees, then 3 overhead squats, and so on for as many rounds and repetitions as you can, increasing the overhead squats by 1 repetition each round for 12 minutes.

  •  1 overhead squat
  •  7 bar-facing burpees
  •  2 overhead squats
  •  7 bar facing burpees
  •  3 overhead squats

…..and so on for 12 minutes



Perform 2 alternating overhead lunges holding the weight overhead with your right hand, then 7 burpees then 2 lunges holding the weight overhead with your left hand, then 7 burpees, then 4 lunges right, then 7 burpees, then 4 lunges left, and so on, increasing the lunge repetitions by 2 (right and left sides with 7 burpees in between) for as many rounds and repetitions as you can for 12 minutes.

TIP! Overhead movements are challenging! Even if done with just one arm. If you are just learning how to do overhead movements, use a light object such as a shoe or a can of beans to hold overhead. I promise, you will still break a sweat!

  •  2 single arm overhead alternating lunges (right)
  •  7 burpees over dumbbell
  •  2 single-arm overhead alternating lunges (left)
  •  7 burpees over dumbbell
  •  4 single-arm overhead alternating lunges (right)
  •  7 burpees over dumbbell
  •  4 single-arm overhead alternating lunges (left)
  •  .. and so on for 12 minutes


Cool Down


This is a sneaky workout that challenges the mobility of the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles and equally challenges the muscles that surround all these joints. Today is an especially good day to dial down your nervous system so that you are ready for the next challenge – fitter, faster, and stronger than ever!

Show your shoulders some love with this 15-minute shoulder-opening yoga sequence to jump-start your recovery. #dontskiptheyoga

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