How to Overhead Squat

How to Perform Overhead Squats

How to Overhead Squat
How to Overhead Squat

Among the best exercises for strength, size, speed, and power, are squats – no exceptions. Front squats, jump squats, and overhead squats are all great alternatives to the king of squat exercises – the barbell back squat.

Squatting will help you develop powerful legs and a rigid core, have no doubt, but when we get creative we can mix and match exercises for an even more effective exercise that trains the whole body.

Sometimes we must think about our upper body as well and there is no better way to look and feel jacked, than to build massively strong shoulders. And there is no better way to feel sexy as a female, than to have sleek, strong, healthy shoulders. It is also equally important to build structurally invincible shoulders to proactively protect yourself from injury.

Combine everything together that I’ve just mentioned, and you get the overhead barbell squat. Let’s see how to do them correctly.

Rules to remember when overhead squatting:

  • Fill your stomach with air before descending and keep it tight with your chest out while pushing up.
  • Push up with your eyes focused 30-45 degrees above normal eye level.
  • Keep the lower back straight and mostly flat; do not round your back!
  • Keep knees pointing out slightly, do not let them creep inwards or outwards as you push yourself up.
  • Push from your glutes (butt), not your knees; your hips should raise first and everything else should raise with them.
  • Try to keep your knees behind your toes to avoid injury.
  • Keep your shoulder blades pinched together.
  • Maintain a slight force pressing outward with your hands to help with shoulder stability.

Overhead Squat Positioning

This is a very awkward exercise that will build stability in your shoulders and the surrounding muscles. Despite the name, overhead squats are not particularly overwhelming for the legs, as you typically use a load far lighter than you would use for working squat sets.

To start, load up a barbell with some weight and set up for either a hang snatch, a power snatch, or a squat.

Now you have 2 choices for getting the bar into position:

  1. Snatching the bar into position: using a snatch grip, which is a much wider grip than you would use for any other exercise (often 1.5 feet outside of shoulder width), bend down and grasp the bar in an ultra-wide deadlift position. Deadlift the bar to a hang position if you’d rather start the exercise with a hang snatch, or keep the bar on the floor if you are comfortable with power snatching it into position.
  2. Squat jerking the bar into position: get the bar on your back for a barbell back squat using a partner, a squat rack, a power rack, or whatever else you use for a rack. Move your hands to a snatch grip position. Use a quarter squat to generate enough momentum to jerk the bar overhead and catch it in a snatch lockout.

Do the Overhead Squat

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Using whichever positioning method you choose, snatch the bar over your head and catch it in the standard snatch position – shoulder blades pinched together, bar directly over your head and ankles, pulling out slightly with both hands to keep your shoulders tight.

Now do a squat while keeping the bar in the same vertical line of motion. The bar will end up behind your head when you are in the hole, but keep those shoulder blades pinched and keep a slight but constant outward force with both hands to stabilize the bar. Stand up to complete one rep. Don’t you dare drop the bar until the set is finished.

When you are done, either drop the bar back onto your shoulder and unrack it, or just drop it to the floor if you are training in a gym that will allow you to do that. Don’t you dare try this in a Planet Fitness or the Lunk Alarm will go off and you will most likely be escorted out into the parking lot… which is actually a better place to train than inside a Planet Fitness.

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8 Responses to “How to Overhead Squat”

  1. tom says:

    Hi Steve, i really like your website and look forward to your articles but recently the most annoying tweet retweet submit buzz box keeps showing up and covering the text! how do you get rid of this, i have no interest in tweeting anything! thanks

  2. Arnold says:

    Hi Steve, the lady on this video has her left fist a little too pressed and leaning backward while the right arm is just straight forward. Does it need correction? I have the same case and I feel that my left arm is weaker than my right. I notice that this happens to me whenever the weight goes higher than my head. I don’t wear a watch because my wrists are only 5″ in girth and they don’t look very attractive.
    Thanks!

  3. Brian says:

    I can’t believe you knocked planet fitness!! Without a place that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg very few people who are now exercising would be. Not everyone can afford what most places charge. Maybe they don’t have all the extras but to get started and “catch the bug” for exercising it can’t be beat. I see so many people walk in to the planet fitness I go to and in just a few months wow what a change. Sure many join and only show up on free pizza night but so many others start and stick with it. KUDOS to PF for being reasonably priced. What would make you say something like that?
    I am a loyal reader and appreciate your information by the way. Surely I missed something here???

    • Steve says:

      When you grunt or drop a dumbbell at Planet Fitness, the “Lunk Alarm” goes off. Sometimes people get kicked out of the gym for grunting… come on. You can’t be a serious powerlifter, Olympic lifter, or even a serious weightlifter at Planet Fitness. Planet Fitness is cheap and is great for people who just want to exercise, but you just can’t “train” at Planet Fitness. I won’t judge people for going there – just getting off your butt and going to the gym gets props from me, but I’m fairly confident that overhead squats will get you kicked out.

  4. [...] overhead squats/good mornings/bosu squats (same as above but with the bar+ weight) [...]

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