An overhead squat is basically an advanced variation of the standard squat exercise that primarily works all the muscle groups in the body.
It is one of those exercises that targets the entire body, including quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, core, upper back and so on. When performed correctly, it can enhance flexibility, mobility and strength so that you can do everyday chores with ease and perform other athletic activities safely and efficiently.
How to perform an overhead squat correctly? Correct form and technique
- Start by choosing a weight that you can control easily and one that allows you to maintain the right form and technique throughout the repetitions.
- Place the barbell across your back, and gently rest it on your shoulders.
- Hold the barbell with a wider gri,p and rotate your shoulders out to properly engage your lats. Keep your elbows pointed towards the floor.
- Engage your core, hips and shoulders to push the bar overhead. As you push, lower your hips while keeping your chest as high as you can. Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Simultaneously push through your shoulders and legs to push the barbell to its initial position. Rest the bar in the centre of your palms, and keep your wrists slightly stretched.
- Push both your hands up to make a safe and steady upper back position.
- Lower the bar till your legs are parallel with the floor, and make sure the bar remains over the middle of your feet, and your knees are aligned with your feet.
Essential tips to keep in mind
Consider the following tips when performing an overhead squat:
- A perfectly executed overhead squat is done with extended arms and a wide grip on the barbell.
- The barbell should safely align over the back of your head.
- Your spine should be neutral, with your feet straight and a strong lower body to squat down correctly.
- The barbell should remain over the middle of your feet throughout the squat ascent and descent.
Benefits of doing overhead squats
Increases overall strength and flexibility
An overhead squat targets the muscles in your lower body, such as the adductors, hamstrings, lower back muscles and quads, as well as muscles in your upper body including your deltoids, triceps, shoulders and arms.
Strengthens the core muscles
Performing this advanced variation of squat helps activate your core muscles, allowing them to stay engaged throughout the full range of motion during the workout.
As overhead squats involve multiple joints, this exercise can potentially improve your hip, ankle and shoulder mobility.
Mistakes to avoid
Be cautious of these mistakes to ensure you perform the workout effectively.
- The most common mistake while doing an overhead squat is leaning too forward during the downward phase of this exercise. This mistake probably occurs due to weak mobility of the ankles and hips. To avoid that, you should make sure to keep the bar stacked perfectly over your feet and your torso straight and upright during the entire movement. You can also prevent this mistake by reducing your range of motion and focusing entirely on keeping your core muscles tight.
- Another very common mistake to avoid is to keep your knee stable so that it doesn’t cave inward as you squat. This is called knee valgus or collapsing of the knee inward as you squat down. It often occurs due to not engaging your glute muscles. To avoid that, focus on engaging your glute muscles to pull your knees outward, and keep them in a straight line with your toes as you go down into a squat.
If performed with the correct form and proper posture, an overhead squat can be beneficial and effective for almost anyone. It can be incorporated into your full-body workout days to improve your coordination, strength, mobility and flexibility of all the major muscle groups and joints.
Moreover, if you’re trying this exercise for the first time, start with a light weight, and perform it under the guidance of a certified fitness trainer. If you experience any sharp pain or any type of discomfort, stop immediately.
Keep in mind that you can always perform an overhead squat to build your strength. However, do not push your body when it is not ready, and be consistent with your fitness routine.