Today in CrossFit we did a Conditioning WOD that included the Overhead Squat. The Overhead Squat (OHS) is as much about shoulder flexibility and core strength as it is about leg strength, perhaps even more about flexibility and balance. I’ll be honest; I’ve struggled with the OHS. It isn’t about the weight or my ability to squat it. It’s about my shoulder flexibility more than anything else. As you get down into the deep squat position, you should be able to shrug your shoulders, lock your arms out straight overhead, and actually have those arms somewhat behind your head (i.e., someone should be able to see your ears from the side). When I started doing the OHS, I couldn’t even put my arms that straight overhead with NO WEIGHT! My shoulder flexibility held me back. But, I’ve been working on stretches and using a lacrosse ball to open up the muscles around my scapula and shoulders. It is helping and I can do a better OHS now, but I have a lot more room for improvement before I can add significant weight to this lift.
It’s all about form and flexibility (see videos below):
- Determine the right grip width that will allow you to flexibly lock out your arms overhead. In the beginning it will be wider than you expect. Practice with an unloaded bar or dowel.
- Clean the barbell and pushpress overhead
- If you need to adjust grip, lower to shoulders or chest first (then pushpress overhead again)
- Arms locked out overhead and slightly back, which will help maintain this form as you squat
- Shoulders shrugged up
- Adjust feet to squat width. Remember: Knees stay over the feet as you squat.
- Lower carefully into the squat with your back straight, have a slight lumbar curve to maintain form as you squat, and maintain the locked out arms overhead
- Avoid tipping forward or backward!
- Be able to dump the bar forward or backward and jump out of the way to avoid injury. Practice this now, before you lift heavy!
Overhead Squats Video
Another great Overhead Squat movie on the CrossFit site.