Wednesday 100630

Overhead squat 1 - 15 – 1 - 15 – 1 - 15 reps.

Post loads (add all 6 totals together) to comments.

I 009 

Heels, knees tracking over feet, good back, depth, elbows just about right… but what? 

Overhead Squat Tips

Overhead squats are arguably the hardest of the squats.  The physical demands of the movement are not limited only to strength, but also flexibility and balance.  So let's discuss a couple of the points of performance of this fine movement and see if we can improve your results today.

First, set up like any other squat.  Now grip the bar with a snatch grip (minus the hook) and hold the bar overhead.  Three things that must be present in the overhead position: 1) retracted scapula, 2) active shoulders, and 3) lats engaged by posteriorly rotating the shoulder.  That third element can be a bit hard to understand, so here's a visual:

This is a good, safe overhead position.  

Note the shoulder position.  Not as safe. 

Next, let's address the mechanics of the overhead squat.  There is a tendency to initiate the movement with the knees coming forward.  Now I'm not sure if this happens because of the focus on the overhead position, but I've seen athletes with picture perfect air/front/back squats with this mechanical error.  By leading with the knees, we'll undoubtedly end up on our toes, not taking advantage of our strong posterior chain of muscles.  Remember, butt back and down, drawing the knees back and loading the hamstrings. 


  1. Jeff and Dan, you guys are bad asses!!! Our gym rocks!

  2. Julian :

    Is there a recommended percentage to start with for the 15rep efforts?

  3. Cherie :

    Julian – a great start is 80-85% go with a conservative # to start we don’t want failure on first set. Have fun!

  4. Julian :

    Thanks Cherie!

  5. Matt :

    Any guess about Jeff’s front squat? Anyone?

  6. Brian :

    Boy, I don’t know, that FS looks pretty good. Head tilted a bit too high??

  7. Slaughter :

    Julian, i think Cherie was posting for the 1rep scheme, i’d go somewhere around 50% of PR for the 15rep effort.
    Matt- as far as Jeff’s front squat, it looks pretty good to me, the wrist flexibility maybe could use a little work and elbows a bit higher to keep the back from rounding on the drive up. Also a bit of shrug in the shoulders might help. His base looks solid to me though so help me out, I’m missing any major flaws.

  8. Beck :

    is it the position of his knees with respect to his ankles? it’s a guess..

  9. Matt :

    Ok, so Jeff has the weight in his heels, knees tracking over his toes, full depth, chest/head up, good back, and his elbows are pretty close (a little low).
    Julian is right on one point, if Jeff’s elbows were higher it would create a better rack position on the shoulders.
    What about Jeff’s hand position? We want hands outside of shoulder width to allow a little more freedom of movement in the shoulder girdle. But consider this: can he jerk the bar from this position? Probably not. His overhead position would be limited to his shoulder flexibility with a narrow grip.
    The front squat is a skill/strength transfer exercise for the clean, which is usually paired with the jerk. Practice like you play – use an outside shoulder width grip for the front squat.
    Nice job Jeff. Fix this and the elbows and you’re looking top notch.

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