Why Does My Overhead Squat Suck?!?! by Coach Chad
Now that we’re four weeks deep into this Olympic Lifting cycle, it’s time to address something. Your overhead squat sucks. I’m being serious bro. It’s just straight up terrible. How do I know? Unless you’re overhead squatting 70%+ of your back squat, I’m talking about you. Now that we have that guilty admission out of the way, what are you supposed to do about it?
Numero uno is taking toll of exactly what is happening? Why does the OHS fail for you? Not sure? Ask a coach to watch it. Video it maybe. When you play it back, what causes the bar to fall to the earth? Chances are really good that your chest is falling forward. What causes that? A couple of things could be the culprit:
- Have you mobilized your thoracic spine? This is by far the most common cause. Nearly every time I scope out someone having trouble with the OHS in the gym, it is caused by poor thoracic extension. With your shoulders rounded forward (aka bro shoulder aka delta bravo shoulder aka bride shoulder), it’s impossible to keep something overhead while squatting. Ain’t gonna happen.
- Have you mobilized your ankles? When you squat your knees have you travel forward in order to give your hips room to lower. If your ankles aren’t mobile enough to allow that to happen, your hips instead travel backwards. When that happens, your chest will drop in order to maintain balance over your feet. It looks like this:
Does that make sense? What we’re striving for here is the first photo. Putting a bar overhead with a relatively vertical spine isn’t too difficult. When we lean that spine forward and try the same thing, we’re gonna have some serious problems.
3. Have you mobilized your shoulders? I intentionally saved this one for last. It’s probably the first thing you thought of when considering your OHS disease. In reality though, most people have the ability to put something overhead. It can, of course, be the problem but I would certainly check the other two first. If you need help here, think PVC pass throughs and a lacrosse ball in the scapular and pec minor areas.
Give these tips a shot. You’re going to need that big OHS when you PR your hang snatch today!