The Overhead Squat... HELP!

Aloha all!
In light of the recent increase in the mention of overhead squats as a great total body exercise, combined with my concerns about the long term effects of heavy spinal loading over the course of a lifetime, I decided to give these babies a try.
Holy hell!

I have, in my time, deadlifted 550 and squatted 635 at a weight of 215, and although not presently that strong, I can routinely throw around 415 (at a 200lb bodyweight) for unbelted reps in both without trouble. I am also a brown belt in brazilian jiu jitsu, and so, am pretty damned flexible. Obviously, though, not flexible and strong enough for this exercise.

I cannot get my ass to the floor with just the the bar overhead without coming onto my toes (regardless of whether I wear flat Chuck Taylors or lifted Nike cross trainers). I am pretty damned humbled by this, and so must conquer this exercise.
I need help.

For all of the articles and videos online, none of them address a way to work up to a properly performed, ass to the ground overhead squat. They just presume one has the strength and flexibility to do so…which obviously ain’t that easy to start with.
Suggestions? Resources?
Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.


Lots of shoulder dislocates and hip mobility work has always done the trick for me!

I’ve been working on these a lot lately. The one thing I’ve been doing at work, at home, pretty much everywhere is the wall squats with my arms OH. Its in the article that came on today, just put your arms over your head and squat down in front of the wall. Start further away and work up until your toes are touching the wall.

I thought I had it down, until I started adding more weight, and sure enough my weight started coming onto my toes. That being said, the slow progression is helping more than anything.

I’ve been combining these with front squats. Front squat first movement, then onto OH squats, and you’d think that front squatting would warm up your wrists. But the OH squatting is worse on my wrists than the front squats, so I would add some wrist/forearm stretches too.

Work on it at home with a broom. It sounds like a mobility issue at the ankles. Try doing them with your heals on a 2.5/5 lb plate and if that cures it then improving your ankle mobility.

From your previous poundages in the other core lifts (impressive, btw) I’d say start with just the Olympic bar & work your way from there… or a broomstick… Do you have any back injuries that are preventing you from squatting ATG in this? A lot of unknown variables here that couold be affecting your attempts.

Myself I’m stuck @ 135-155 for reps @ a current bodyweight of 230 lbs so I have a looong way to go myself lol

Just use the search feature on this site & type in “overhead squats” - Have you tried Youtube? Found you this one -

Pretty basic but the guys shows you the form & technique

Also you can try Coach Davies -

Hope this helps & mahalo!

When I first started, I put the little 5 lb plates under my heels but after improving flexibility I didn’t need them anymore. Alternatively, this is where oly shoes really come in handy since the heel is slightly raised.

I was just watching this Dan John video. He has you do the goblet squat, pick up a dowel or whatever in the bottom position, and then come back up. It makes sense–if you can hold the correct position at the bottom, you should be able to get there from the top.

Volume, volume, volume. The OHS is a lift you can make pretty fast progress on if you really hammer it.

I did something last year based on John Bott’s squat rehab program. Insane volume, but I got about 20kg out of it in less than 6 weeks.

Seeing as you’re starting off with the bar, it’d look like this:

20.0kg x 13 reps x 3 sets 780.0kg
20.0kg x 13 reps x 5 sets 1300.0kg
20.0kg x 13 reps x 8 sets 2080.0kg
20.0kg x 13 reps x 10 sets 2600.0kg
20.0kg x 13 reps x 13 sets 3380.0kg
22.5kg x 12 reps x 5 sets 1350.0kg
22.5kg x 12 reps x 8 sets 2160.0kg
22.5kg x 12 reps x 10 sets 2700.0kg
22.5kg x 12 reps x 12 sets 3240.0kg
36.0kg x 11 reps x 5 sets 1980.0kg
36.0kg x 11 reps x 8 sets 3168.0kg
36.0kg x 11 reps x 11 sets 4356.0kg
45.0kg x 10 reps x 5 sets 2250.0kg
45.0kg x 10 reps x 10 sets 4500.0kg
52.5kg x 9 reps x 9 sets 4252.5kg
60.0kg x 8 reps x 8 sets 3840.0kg
65.0kg x 7 reps x 7 reps 3185.0kg

You basically OHS every other day. Over 1500 overhead squats in less than six weeks. Take as much rest between sets as you need and at least a day rest between sessions and two days after each mini-cycle and you should do fine. You may want to wrap your wrists as they do take quite a hamnmering. I also gradually moved my grip in over the course of each workout during the 20kg stage, so I eventually ended up doing them with a clean grip.

Im assuming you can go ATG with normal squats right? Maybe a stupid question but wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard it.

I found keeping my calves and hip flexors stretched worked wonders (that is once I got my hip flexors strong enough).

[quote]wfifer wrote:
I was just watching this Dan John video. He has you do the goblet squat, pick up a dowel or whatever in the bottom position, and then come back up. It makes sense–if you can hold the correct position at the bottom, you should be able to get there from the top.[/quote]


wfifter u got ahead of me,

Shoulder dislocates, sots press, mobility drills. If the sots press and dislocates don’t help you get there, then I’d guess you need to work on ankle mobility.

I’ve been doing these everyday as part of my warm up for a year and a half… great great exercise.

Don’t mean to chime in here but what I would have you do is:

  1. look into Grey Cook’s FMS- in which this is one of the drills represented. He also give progressive hamstring exercises to build mobility in the legs and posterior trunk.

  2. try them with your heels elevated on a 2x4 or a couple of 25lb weights with little to no weight added.

  3. foam roll your hip flexors, IT bands, quads and hams. You may have adhesions preventing you movement.

  4. start from a seated position and then perform the exercise as if you were overhead box squatting. ( 2 phases- 1st begin seated working concentric only contraction. 2nd start standing and work only eccentric contraction.)

then put all these phases together and build up!

If someone else has said these already please forgive me as i did not read the other posts prior to my response.