OHS

Looking at this picture, even the least observant will be able to tell which person looks the most stable, and which position can handle the most weight at the bottom of their respective overhead squats.

Unless you’ve never done this movement you won’t really know what I’m talking about. It is, in my opinion, one of the most challenging movements you can do and if you can’t do it then you can forget about any ambitions you may have of being an olympic lifter or CrossFit Games Champion.

I remember talking to one box owner who thought her husband was a superb athlete and she was convinced he was going to qualify for the CrossFit Games. I asked how his overhead squat was, as this is a fairly good indicator of someone’s core strength and midline stability. Some people will also tell you it’s a good indicator of your snatch, but that’s another argument. Interestingly, he struggled to do anything over 95lbs, so we can safely assume that the CrossFit Games Champ, Rich Froning, has nothing to be afraid of for a while…

Overhead squats will differentiate men from boys, women from little girls. They are brilliant.

You may have guessed that I am a fan, but getting good at overhead squats is a LONG journey and I’m certainly not at the end of that journey!

Everyone should remember their first overhead squat…

My first overhead squat was in 1988 with a javalin. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world but it was easy enough so I don’t think it counted.

My first weighted overhead squat experience was in an LA Fitness gym in London, 1998, with an empty 20kg bar. It was amazing on several levels.

First I didn’t manage to smash any mirrors when the weight collapsed over my head half way down.

Second, not a single person witnessed it to my total relief…or so I thought.

Third, once I finished my “workout” and was leaving the gym, the receptionist asked me if I was ok as she and several other staff members had witnessed my overhead squat fail on CCTV. At the time “Like a Virgin” was playing over the PA system which, I thought, was quite appropriate.

Forth, it was enough motivation for me to get good at it, and for the next several years I kept working at it until I could do it with ease.

Fifth and finally, I realised that strength wasn’t about how big your biceps were.

For many good coaches, a well known athletic goal is to squat your own bodyweight for 15 reps.

This video is always great to watch, and in over 15 years of coaching I’ve only seen a handful of athletes who can do this:


How close are you?