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Overhead Squats

I will be trying overhead squats for the first time tomorrow. Does anyone have any advice on how to determine poundages to use?

Specifically, is there a guideline on what back squat or front squat weight translates to an o/h squat weight? My gym time is fairly limited and I’d like to shorten the time it takes to find a suitable weight to as little as possible.


Yeah, the bar. Seriously, the weight will be negligible provided you aren’t a gymnast or O-lifter. It is hard to balance, thus limiting the weight that you can initially use. I would start with the bar, and work up from there. It’s a very unforgiving exercise; you can muscle it a little with smaller weight, but when you get heavier, you have to find the “groove” or you will drop the bar.

I agree with Dookie. This is definetely a case where less is more. Dan John has a couple of good articles on the overhead squat on his website. Coach Davies has also extrolled its virtues here. You’ll probably find your own flexibility and shoulder/upper back strength as your weak links on this lift initially. By the way, if you experience difficulty achieving ATG with arms overhead (vs in a back or front squat position) it is an indication of tight lats

thanks for the tips. I suspect you are both right-on. This looks like one of those lifts that is very difficult until your body gets used to it. I will tread slowly.


One suggestion I forgot until I worked out last night. I’ve found that putting the overhead squat in as a full body warm-up (at the start of your workout) is an effective way to get started with this movement. I think this accomplishes a couple of things:

  1. It definately is effective in elevating overall body temp.
  2. When fresh, I seem to be better able to focus on the form and flexibility aspects.
  3. I feel better about the puny weight I use when I think of it as a full-body warm-up

The width of grip seems to make a big difference for me. This is most likely due to limited range of motion in my shoulders and hips. The wider grip helps me to keep the bar over the center of gravity.
I start with a 20lb bar and work up to 100 lbs. This exercise will definitely show you your shortcomings.

What rep range would you guys recommend. Thanks.


Very good point that I also forgot to mention. I use OHS as one of my dynamic warm-up exercises. Great for stretching the whole body, getting the heart rate up, and they also seem to “prime” my nervous system to do some lifting.


For rep range I would recommend going for at least 6 reps. Good to work on form, and the balance issues are multiplied exponentially the heavier the weight that you use.

I did the OH Squats this morning. Balance didn’t seem to be an issue ( I was even able to go up to 85 lbs in the later sets,which I felt was pretty good for my first time, but one thing I noticed was that when nearing the bottom of the movement, my heels raised up a bit. I don’t have this problem going ATG on Front Squats. Is this indicative of a hip flexibility issue as I have been neglecting stretching lately (I know, bad idea) or did I use too much weight and thusly compromise form at the bottom. Any ideas?


[quote]dookie1481 wrote:


For rep range I would recommend going for at least 6 reps. Good to work on form, and the balance issues are multiplied exponentially the heavier the weight that you use.[/quote]


     Why do say that? I understand that somebody shouldn't work up to a max single on their first time with the OHSQ, and that more reps gives you more practice. But unless you have someone who knows the OLs better than you do instructing you, it's hard to figure out whether your technique is right without going heavier.
     For instance: For a while I did a lot of light-weight (55-75#) squat snatches and overhead squats as a part of my warm-up and as stations in fast-paced circuit workouts. I could knock off high reps with these weights, but in order to do that I used an incomplete second pull and hip extension. I didn't figure this out until I tried to pull heavier weights and found out that I couldn't get under anything heavier than a hundred pounds without a full hip extension.
     Similarly in the OHSQ, one could easily hold a light weight too far forward by stabilizing it with one's shoulders, while a heavier weight would alert the lifter to his mistake.

Does this make sense?