overhead squat blues

So a while back I bought CT’s black book of training secrets. Somewhere in there it suggests on testing your flexibility by doing an overhead squat. For whatever reason I didnt do it and I am starting to regret it for i could have picked up on this problem a lot sooner.

I am so damn inflexible. I could barely do a quarter squat as I STRUGGLED to get the bar over my head which i couldnt.

I knew i wasnt very flexible in the first place, considering i couldn’t even touch my toes, but I didn’t know i was THIS inflexible.

For the past couple of months i’ve been using the post workout stretch routine in coach davies book, and i thought it was doing me pretty good, because i can now easily touch my toes. But shit. This puts me back a whole lot. I was planning to do the beginner olympic lift program in the black book but I don’t think i’ll be able to given my new found limitations.

If anyone knows of any good web articles, books or ANYTHING that could help me out please let me know.

This is really important because i’d like to start OL lifting a lot this summer in preperation for football.

Thanks in advance

Anything by Pavel Tsatsouline should help with your flexibility, as well as performing overhead squats, static stretching hip flexors, external hip rotators, and calves (ankles)everyday a few times during the day. However, don’t get caught up in performing the O-lifts thinking they will have a tremendous impact on your football game in a short time. Joe D’s Pro Maker interview examines why. Check it out!


I think I’m in the same boat as you are. I looked around Dan John’s website because of his article last week, and saw that he highly recommended overhead squats. I tried one and failed miserably. Granted, I am coming back after a long lay-off from the weight room, but while my strength really hasn’t dropped too much because of my activity level, my flexibility and rom have become a huge problem.

Well, kind of on a whim, I bought Mark Verstegen’s “Core Performance” yesterday and am very excited to start the 12-week program. If you haven’t heard of him, he receives ringing endorsements from Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm (and isn’t ashamed to use them,) and apparently trains many other pro athletes.

There’s a lot of goofy swiss ball and plyometrics and other stuff in there, but it seems really solid, mixing in more T-mag-related postural exercises like the Romanian deadlift. I figure I’m going to look like a jackass at the gym, but I really don’t care and I’m going to go through it all with no modifications, especially considering I let myself get so deconditioned.

At the very least, you can read though it at Barnes and Noble or Borders or whatever and see if it appeals to you. It’s around $30 there and around $20+shipping on Amazon. Sorry I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I hope this helps.

One last thing - I haven’t completely finished the book, but it does seem like he recommends the oly lifts as you get more advanced, but doesn’t get into it at all in this book. I guess it might give him some more cred.

Increasing your flexibility will not necessarily improve your overhead squat ability. I know people who are extremely flexible, yet cannot perform an overhead squat or other olympic style lifts. If you want to improve these lifts, then the only way to do that is to perform them.

Here’s one possible solution to your problem - go to a hardware store and purchase a dowel rod (cheap, very light weight) Use the dowel rod to do your OH squats focusing exclusively on proper technique/depth of movement initially.

I cannot OVER EMPHASIZE the importance of forward and backward summersaults for you guys. This will work WONDERS on your shoulder flexibility and hip speed, among other things. Such a simple thing, yet most people I know not only ignore them, but have a hard time doing a simple forward roll. Add this to your arsenal along with the muscle snatch complex and you’ll go a long way.

-Grant Hansen
Renegade Training

Grant would you care to expand? I used to do gymanstics and can still do backwards and forward somersaults off the floor but I am crap at OH squats. So I’m not sure I follow as to why somersaults would help with flexibility in the shoulders.

Try doing your over squats on to a high box or bench. Over the weeks try to work your way down.

Sounds rational to me but then again I can’t do an over head squat to save my life.


I’m assuming that you can do a full olympic squat ass-to-the-grass without your heels coming of the floor and without excessive forward lean.

If you can’t, then you need to address this situation first. How? Start full squatting with the maximum load that allows you a complete range of motion. DO NOT compromise form and depth for weight or this won’t work.

Once you can’t full squat then apply the same principles to the OH squat. Take a broom handle and drop into the OH squat ensuring that you heels stay on the floor at ALL times and there isn’t excessive forward lean.

If you can’t only drop 6 inches before your heels start to rise, then use this ROM until you can drop further. Only once you can full OH squat with the broom handle, should you start adding weight.

After workout make sure you stretch you hip flexors, hamstrings and calves. JP Catanzaro’s article will help you alot.

So in summary…emphasise full ROM and leaving loading alone until your ROM is satisfactory. When you add load, do not compromise ROM, or things will get fucked up again.

Hope this helps. And don’t stress about this…within a few weeks you’ll see great results and will be back on track once more.

Take care.