“My overhead squat sucks” is the most common mobility complaint I hear in the gym.
Aside from the snatch, no lift taxes more of your body’s systems than the overhead squat. Moving weight further from your center of mass increases the level of difficulty exponentially. Overhead squats require tremendous strength; exceptional shoulder, thoracic spine, hip and ankle mobility; and extraordinary core and scapular stability.
Can you put a checkmark in each of those boxes? If so, congratulations! You don’t need this article; check back next week. If not . . .
Walk before you run
The overhead squat is the most challenging squat we use regularly in CrossFit. Despite this, I commonly see athletes with movement errors in their air squat, back squat or front squat attempt overhead squats. If that is you, dial in your other squats before you work on your overhead squat.
If your knees collapse inward coming out of an air squat, you have difficulty staying upright in a front squat, you “buttwink”, your heels come up, etc. work on these issues in less difficult squat variations first. Dial in the basics in every squat variation, and your overhead squat will follow suit.
Reach for the sky
After you have mastered the basic components of a squat, it’s time to put some weight overhead. For many, this is where the proverbial wheels fall off. Some have difficulty locking out overhead. Others have difficulty maintaining the lockout once they start to squat.
If you have difficulty locking out overhead in the first place, see our previous article Your 3 Step Overhead Fix for a plan to get you started on locking out overhead.
If, on the other hand, you can lockout overhead but as you start to squat your shoulders and elbows lose their stable, locked out position, try practicing your overhead squats in the rig.
Standing close to the rig raise the bar overhead
Squat until you lose your lockout or hit the rig with the bar
Challenge yourself to increase the depth of your squat each time you practice this drill
Drop the PVC pipe, grab an empty bar
Going too light is one of the most common mistakes people make when they work on overhead squats. While you certainly don’t want to go too heavy out the gate, squatting too light will not provide the stimulus you need to correct some of the common errors in overhead squats.
Contact Dr. Dwayne to learn more ways to fix your overhead squat
Visit our clinics at CrossFit Connection and/or CrossFit Streets