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5 Overhead Squat Workouts (and Training Tips) for CrossFit Athletes

If you can’t execute a rock-solid air squat, then there’s no point in trying to progress to an overhead squat.

Make sure you have a solid squat foundation first, then try a couple of OH squats with a training bar as you will likely discover additional mobility issues. The Overhead Squat requires extreme flexibility in your:

  • Shoulders
  • Hips
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Adductors

It’s unlikely that you are highly mobile in all of these areas—which is why the overhead squat is often avoided by so many athletes. 

You MUST invest the time into sufficiently mobilizing the above muscle groups in order to externally rotate your hips and become comfortable squatting with the bar overhead.

The overhead squat is the ultimate core exercise, the heart of the snatch, and peerless in developing effective athletic movement. This functional gem trains for efficient transfer of energy from large to small body parts – the essence of sport movement. For this reason it is an indispensable tool for developing speed and power. The overhead squat also demands and develops functional flexibility, and similarly develops the squat by amplifying and cruelly punishing faults in squat posture, movement, and stability.”

-Greg Glassman, CrossFit Journal 

 Let´s break this exercise down in order to understand and analyse


  • The bar should be in the palm, slightly behind the center line of the forearm.
  • Grip the bar so that when it is placed overhead it is about 6-8 inches / 20cm above the top of your head.
  • The hand and wrist are allowed to settle with the wrist extended. Don’t try to hold the wrist in a neutral position.

If the bar is placed in the proper position in the hand, it will not place undue strain on the wrist. Don’t hold the bar way behind the wrist as some mistakenly grip it. In every case the proper hand and wrist position does require a good deal of mobility, which should be worked on to allow you to hold the bar properly. If you are flexible enough, the hook grip can be maintained overhead, but the grip must be relaxed to allow the hand and wrist to settle in properly.

camille leblanc bazinet overhead squatSource: crossfitshatter
The Overhead Squat – A tough exercise to get right

The bar should be positioned over the back of the neck or the top of the traps, with the head pushed slightly forward through the arms.

If the head is straight up or pushed back as some try to hold it, the shoulder blades cannot be held in a safe position and the arms will not be balanced as effectively to support the weight. Be cautious of pushing the head too far forward, this will encourage your chest to lean forward and tip you out of good form.

The wider the grip, the more likely a lifter is to over rotate and drop the bar behind. Additionally, as the grip gets wider, it becomes more difficult to extend the elbows forcefully to enter the overhead squat position. Different grips make muscles work in different ways. A narrow-hand grip allows for much more shoulder mobility and flexibility, which is crucial for powerful overhead squats.

Lockout stability – The bar must be locked out over your base so tightly that if your coach stood behind you and pressed down on the bar, it will not move.

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