There are some lifts and movements that tell a story about your body. The overhead squat is one of them.
The overhead squat (or OHS for short) can reveal so much about you; limitations that may be affecting your joints or muscles and causing you pain, the level of stability in your hip and core, particular muscle imbalances, and more. If you’re anything like me, then chances are your OHS has made you supremely aware of how poor your overall body balance is.
The overhead squat is a great way to teach balance, coordination, kinesthetic awareness and core control like almost no other exercise. Even some of the most athletic and freakishly flexible athletes struggle with this movement.
It wouldn’t be far fetched to say that the overhead squat is quite possibly one of the best core strength exercises in existence. It demands flexibility, strength, balance, and is an essential component of the snatch. It also happens to be an excellent measure of your core stability and control, and ultimately, your ability to generate effective and efficient athletic power.
While fairly simple in theory, this movement is universally frustrating for beginners and they tend to experience three common obstacles:
- The lack of skilled instruction – usually only trainers with Olympic lifting background have the most reliable instruction
- A weak squat – you need a really good squat to perform a good overhead squat
- Starting with too much weight – it’s best to start with a plastic PVC pipe or even a broom stick if you’re practicing from home
To help you overcome these obstacles and improve your overhead squat, here are 5 instruction tips.
Start by focusing on your set up. Grip the bar so that when it is placed overhead it is approximately 6-8 inches above the top of your head.
Second, get active with your shoulders. Push your shoulders and the bar up as high as you can. The bar should be perfectly aligned with your heels during this time.
Third, activate your core. During this entire movement movement you are going to want to maintain as tight a core as possible.
Now that your bar is over head it’s time to squat, which brings us to tip number 4; pull your hips back and down while placing your weight on your heels. If the bar remains directly over your heels as you lower into the squat then you are doing great. Do Not let the bar move forward of or behind your heels at any point of the movement.
It’s important to note that your ability to drop a squat plays a critical role here. If you have poor hip mobility then this will affect your overall squat. Good news, you can get hip mobility tips here!
Our final tips is to ensure your hips reach that point below the tops of your knees, which we refer to as hitting “below parallel.” To exit below parallel, push your weight into your heels and stand to full extension .
The biggest takeaways here are to maintain a tight core, the bar in line with your heels at all time and to place your weight in your heels. If you can remember these points then you are going to absolutely dominate your next overhead squat.
Tell me; what has been your biggest challenge with the overhead squat and how did you overcome it? Share in the comment section below!
March is the founder of the Barbell Beauties. Her goal is simple… Empower every woman to grab a barbell and LIFT. She’s been an active CrossFitter for 7 years and credits that sport for turning her into a true athlete.