OH Squat Therapy

PVC OH in Squat Rack
5 x 5

3 Rounds
Run 400
15 KB Swings
30 Air squats
[divider type=”standard” text=”Go to top” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
This month we are going to focus on one of the more challenging yet basic movements in our weightlifting arsenal: the overhead squat.
The overhead squat is a simple movement, but confounding to so many people.  Why?  Because everything needs to be working correctly, from the hands at the top down to the big toes.  Lack of mobility where needed or stability where needed anywhere along that chain from hands to toes will create a kink in the system.
As we progress through the month we want to focus on improvements in the position of the squat itself, not in the amount of weight you lift.  We are going back to basics, much like we did with the air squat prior to getting into our squat cycle.  The pvc pipe will be the tool most used in October.
Coaches (and you) will be looking at four areas of the overhead squat:

  • Position: Here we are looking at your spine and the bar in the standing position and in the bottom of the squat.  These are the start and end positions.  At the start we want the barbell straight overhead directly along the frontal plane (the imaginary line that splits your body from front to back). We will also look for excessive arch in your low back and where your knees are in relation to your feet (inside? outside? too far over the toes?).  Pay attention to how far apart your hands are on the bar and your feet are on the floor.  As things improve you should be able to bring both closer together.
  • Movement: This is what happens between the start and end position.  The most common fault happens right from the word go. Is your first movement with your hips going back like we have taught from the first day of Foundations, or is it with the knees shooting forward?  As you descend, are your armpits rolling in, chest dropping down, feet turning out, knees caving in?  All things we are looking for.
  • Stability: This is essentially the ability to hold a position against an increasing load.  The most important element of stability in this lift (and all functional movement) is stability of your midline (spine).  You may have heard, “keep your core tight”.  Great, but what does that mean?  It means: squeeze your butt, inhale and hold a balloon full of air in your abdomen.  Brace your ab muscles as though you are going to get punched in the stomach.  Pull your rib cage down to avoid that excessive arch in the low back.  Lock down your scaps.  Oh, and be sure to maintain all that, while moving down and then back up. Starting to get a sense of why this is so tough?  Well, we haven’t even talked about…
  • Mobility: this is your range of motion at a given joint and the single biggest problem for almost everyone.  Again, tightness anywhere along the chain will sabotage the best efforts at a good overhead squat.  Areas we will be specifically targeting this month are the ankles, shoulders and thoracic spine.  Those of you who come to afternoon classes after sitting at a desk all day need to pay special attention to thoracic mobility.  (Try overhead squatting with your shoulder slumped forward.  Heck, just try standing and putting your arms up.)

So again, our goal in October will be to get better at overhead squats, not necessarily heavier.  By going back to the basics, this is a movement focus that will benefit veterans and beginners alike, and should manifest down the road in improvements in other lifts, especially the snatch.
Take an active role in your focus.  Ask questions.  Develop a better understanding of where your particular deficiencies are.  Be patient.
One other thing about this week in particular.  We are going to have what I call a “deload week.” I do this every once in a while when I feel like those of you who have been coming on a regular basis are feeling a little beat up.  The last two weeks of programming have been pretty challenging and I hear the talk.  (I also do most of the workouts myself, so I literally feel your pain.)  So this week, as we focus on good form with overhead squats and mobility, we are also going to back off a little on the met-con intensity and weight lifting.  Not as long, not as heavy.  Trust me, you need to give your body the chance to recover from all the hard work you’re putting in.
At the same time, please note in the above paragraph I never used the word “easy”.  🙂