CrossFit moves; The hows and whys of the overhead squat

If you’re new to the world of CrossFit, then you’re about to enter an entirely new world of wild, muscle-shredding excellence. A wolverine who trains with CrossFit is going to be a step ahead of the rest of their pack.

CrossFit gyms are among the most popular gyms in the world, with over 10,000 gyms operating under the name. The mere popularity of these gyms says something about their efficacy – they wouldn’t continue to open new franchises if they weren’t providing good results.

One of the reasons that CrossFit remains so popular is because they develop routines with their own unique exercise moves. CrossFit gyms are staffed with trained fitness professionals who are there to help make sure you can get a good workout done while minimizing the chance of injury and promoting creativity and fitness freedom. These trainers are the people who will help you get accustomed to the unique moves used in CrossFit.

One of these unique moves is the overhead squat.

Why the overhead squat?

As fantastic as squats might be, eventually, you might find yourself a bit burned out from doing back squats or front squats. Maybe you’re just tired of doing them, or maybe you’ve maxed out on the gains that you’ll see from doing simple squats.

Whatever the case, the overhead squat is bound to throw some new fire into your routine. A good overhead squat, however, will require the proper knowledge to execute. In fact, it’s generally recommended that people practice mobility in a certain way to perform the best possible overhead squats. We’ll get into all that in a bit.

Performing an overhead squat

The most simple and straightforward instructions for performing a good overhead squat come straight from CrossFit Rockwall. The basic points as listed in this document are as follows.


  • Review the air squat so you can understand the basic squat mechanics
  • Grip the bar so when it’s placed overhead, it is 6-8″ above the top of your head
  • Push your shoulders and the bar up as high as you can; this activates your shoulders (active shoulders)
  • The bar should be perfectly aligned with your heels
  • Make sure you keep a tight core through the entire movement


  • Pull your hips back and down while keeping your weight on your heels
  • Pull the bar back deliberately as you squat to make sure it stays directly over your heels
  • DO NOT let the bar move forward of or behind your heels at any point during the motion
  • Make sure your hips reach a point below the top of your knee (below parallel)
  • Keeping your weight on your heels, stand to full extension

That’s the basics of the overhead squat. Following the book will be enough for you to perform a basic overhead squat, but you might be interested in learning some of the tips that fitness professionals have suggested for doing a fantastic overhead squat as opposed to just doing one.

1. Keep your butt out

Pushing your posterior away from your midline and the curling your lumbar up into extension, making yourself look like a scorpion with its tail up, will help you align your center of gravity. This will prevent you from tipping backwards or forwards, which could be disastrous in the middle of a squash.

2. Push into the bar

This is one of the best tips for improving your overhead squat. Many people struggle with the overhead squat because it’s natural for the body to want to move as a whole unit. The muscles are holding the bar tend to relax as you are lower than yourself. This makes it more difficult to complete the motion and can actually lead to injury.

To avoid this, make sure that you are constantly pushing into the bar. You don’t need to exert an exhausting amount of energy during this – just enough to keep your muscles engaged.

3. Keep your chest, neck, and head up

This tip is useful in a similar way that the previous one is. It’s very easy to let your upper body slack or fall forward as you are raising yourself. Paying careful attention to keep your chest, neck, and head up while you are raising yourself is a good way to prevent yourself from falling forward.

A good way to do this is to focus on a point about three or four feet in front of you during the exercise. This will help you maintain your balance and will give you a focal point with which to relate to.

4. Stabilize

Make sure that you know you are ready to ascend before you do so. This means that you have to make sure that you are stable, and that your grip on the bar is solid. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground, your shoulders and elbows are turned out and locked.

Practicing for a better overhead squat

There are a couple moves and training procedures that you can do at home to make sure that you are prepared to do an overhead squat.

For your hips

Lie on your back with your toes pointed straight toward the ceiling up against a wall. Then, put your elbows on the inside of your knees and push each knee outwards. This helps to ensure a strong mobility range for your hips, making it easier for them to rotate. This is necessary for a good overhead squat.

For your upper body

To improve your thoracic extension, lie down with a keg drill situated beneath the middle of your back. Reach overhead for an empty barbell, while keeping your arms straight and your buttocks elevated.

Now, you can top load by dropping your posterior while pulling down on your rib cage. The barbell will let you lock off and fulcrum, and this exercise will improve your overhead stance for the overhead squat.

In conclusion

The overhead squat is a fantastic move that CrossFit has developed. Members can enjoy being instructed by trainers at CrossFit gyms as to do a proper overhead squat, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try this at home or at your own gym.

Hopefully this article has given you enough information for you to improve your fitness routine.

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