The Overhead Squat

The squat is a commonly used exercise in many training programs for various reasons. It is great for developing general adaptations such as strength, hypertrophy and endurance and also offers some benefits to more specific adaptations when utilised in the correct way. Considering the long list of benefits to sport success, health or general training, it is no surprise the squat is one of the most used exercises in the world.

The overhead squat (OH Squat) is great for developing stability, mobility, core strength and flexibility around various joints throughout the body. The OH squat also requires a high amount of coordination and motor control to complete correctly, boasting a large array of benefits for use within athletic training.

Due to the high levels of mobility, stability and coordination needed to complete the lift, it is often executed poorly in training, which can lead to further problems in terms of movement patterns and overuse which can lead to preventable injuries.

Rushing into the OH squat is not a good idea, and a great deal of ‘foundation’ work will need to be completed before even attempting a full lift. This will build the basic stability, mobility, core strength and flexibility around the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders required to successfully complete the lift.


This session is based on an athlete who requires a long warm up/mobility session to prepare for the movements. The athlete also has a weakness through the lumbar spine and has trouble extending through the thoracic spine while creating tension through the upper back.

R.A.M.P Warm Up

Any pulse raising activity – cycling, running, skipping, rowing etc.

Dynamic Stretches + Mobility Work – this list is not by any means the only exercises you can do, but they warm up the major joints used during the exercise to prep the body the best you can. It would be advisable to complete these exercises more than once.

  • Hip Rolls/Crucifix * 10 each side
  • Clam Shells (Banded) * 15 each side
  • Hurdle Walks/Sideways Hurdle Walks 20m/10m
  • Good toes + Naughty Toes (banded) * 15
  • Glute Bridge * 10
  • Donkey Kick * 10 each leg
  • Walking Lunges * 15m
  • Assisted Squats *10
  • Prisoner Squat * 10
  • T’s X’s I’s * 10
  • Rotator Cuff Exercises – Internal/External Rotations (Banded) * 15 each
  • OH Shoulder Adduction/Abduction (Banded) * 15
  • Shoulder Press (Banded) + Push Against Push Up Bar (Create Tension) * 10 + 20s
  • Banded Squats * 10
  • OH Banded Squat (Creates more tension through the lift as you push through) * 5


Ex1. – Completed as a Superset

Standing Overhead Bar Holds (Snatch Grip) + Bent Over Front Raise (no weight) – 3*10 on each exercise, 1 minute rest


Standing Overhead Shoulder Press (Snatch Grip) – 3*4, 3 minutes rest.


Partial range of movement (ROM) overhead squats (depth defined by ‘butt wink’ at the lumbar spine) – 4*4, 3 minutes rest.

Ex4. – Completed as a Superset

Anti Gravity Press + Lat Pull Down – 3*12, 1 minute rest.


Hip Hinge – 5*5, 2 ½ minutes rest.


Back Hyperextensions – 3*12, 1 minute rest.


Bent Over Flyes – 3*8, 1 minute rest.


As described before, this is based on a case study where the athlete has a weakness through the lumbar spine and has trouble extending through the thoracic spine while creating tension through the upper back. This means these exercises may not be appropriate for everyone, however, it would be a good place to start for these general training goals as they are common problems with a lot people.

Coaching Cues for the Overhead Squat

  • Assess grip width on the bar by holding it with a pronated grip wide enough that the bar fits into the crease of the hip with the arms fully extended.
  • Pinch a pencil between the shoulder blades/push the chest forward to maintain an upright torso and keep tension through the upper back.
  • Push against the bar at all times – imagine you are pushing against a ceiling.
  • Push the delts to your ears.
  • Brace, push the bum backwards and sink the hips.
  • Keep the weight of the bar over the heel at all times.
  • Push the floor away on the concentric portion of the lift, still keeping the weight over the heel.

If you have any questions about how or when to implement overhead squats into your training or any general queries, then please feel free to comment or send us a message.

If you liked this article feel free to like/share/repost.