Home Training Workouts Challenging Overhead Squat Ab Workouts for CrossFit Athletes

Challenging Overhead Squat Ab Workouts for CrossFit Athletes

The overhead squat is to midline control, stability and balance what the clean and snatch are to power—unsurpassed


Check out these overhead squat ab workouts you can incorporate into your training. A beginner in fitness would not realise how much of your core you need to use when doing an overhead squat, but trust us.

One of the Nine Fundamental Movements of CrossFit, the overhead squat is regarded as the “ultimate core exercise” by Gregg Glassman, founder and former CEO of CrossFit Inc. It requires the upper body to stay more upright than when performing a front or a back squat, working with it your ankles, shoulders and, above all, your core.


The overhead squat will train your strength, stability, midline control and balance. Your core prevents you from falling forward, back, or getting crushed when you load your back with a heavy barbell. By keeping a weight overhead, you shift your centre of gravity upwards, forcing your core to work hard to stabilise you.

5 Training Techniques to Improve your Overhead Squat

Balance is a great skill to have in life, so even if you don’t go around performing overhead squats, this exercise will aid your day-to-day life. An overhead squat also develops the squat by amplifying and cruelly punishing faults in posture, movement, and stability.


Because an overhead squat requires you to elongate your torso, your inner-core muscles will be under incredible tension.

Try out these overhead squat workouts to improve your abs and get the benefits that come with them.


For time:

5-10-15-20-15-10-5 reps of

  • Overhead squats (115/75lb)
  • Toes-to-bar


For As Long As Possible

From 0:00-3:00, 2 rounds of:

  • 10 Overhead Squats (95/65 lb)
  • 10 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

From 3:00-6:00, 2 rounds of:

  • 12 Overhead Squats (95/65 lb)
  • 12 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

From 6:00-9:00, 2 rounds of:

  • 14 Overhead Squats (95/65 lb)
  • 14 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

When performing overhead squats, make sure your feet are just outside the hips. This will allow your hips to squat right in between the heels, requiring less ankle and hip flexibility than a narrow stance and allowing you to keep your hips right under the bar throughout the movement. This way, your centre of gravity will be way more stable.


Read more: 8 Functional Bodybuilding Abs Exercises to Build Powerful Core Strength


5 rounds for time:

400m run

15 overhead squats (95/65lb)

This workout is meant to be performed fast. You can scale it by reducing the weight on the overhead squats to repeat the reps unbroken and save time.


EMOM (for Load) For As Long As Possible

At each station athlete must complete:

  • 1 Squat Snatch
  • 2 Overhead Squats


  • 1 Power Snatch
  • 3 Overhead Squats

Men (in lbs.): 135-145-155-165-175-185-195-205-215-225

Women (in lbs.): 75-85-95-105-110-115-120-125-130-135

During this opening workout at the South Central Regionals in 2010, athletes had 45 seconds to perform all three movements and then 15 seconds between stations.


REGIONALS 10.1 (NORTHWEST) – Overhead Squat Ab Workouts

Source: CrossFit Inc

3 rounds for time:

10 overhead squats (135/95 lb)

50 double-unders

Regionals athletes completed this workout between 2:39/4:37 minutes (winning time for the men and women respectively) and 10 minutes (time cap).


3 rounds for time of:

10 Overhead Squats (75/55lb)

10 Box Jumps (24/20in)

10 Pull-ups

Make sure you keep an active midline when performing the overhead squat, as athletes are disposed to hyper-extending the lower back. This can lead to an unfavourable overhead position and injury. Make sure you warm up, keep your core muscles engaged and mobilise your lower back and shoulders as much as possible.


The paused overhead squat exercise above can help you strengthen your core.

STRENGTH, SKILL AND ENDURANCE – Overhead Squat Ab Workouts

Source: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

4 rounds for time of:

10 toes-to-bar

10 overhead squats (95/65lb)

10 sumo deadlift high pulls

200m run

A demanding workout for your core, this one will also develop your endurance. This WOD involves many high-skill movements, so feel free to scale it as appropriate.

If you find it challenging to be in the overhead position even when standing it means your chest and shoulders are too tight. Make it a priority to work on this.


MOVEMENT TIPS – How to Improve your Shoulder Mobility

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