Exercise of the Week: Overhead Squat

The squat is a great exercise that can burn a lot of calories, work multiple muscle groups making it a full body exercise, plus developing core strength.

There are many great squat variations that you can throw in to keep your training fun and progressing.

One fantastic and challenging variation is the overhead squat.

The overhead squat will give you all the benefits of the classic back squat, but by holding the weight overhead will allow more upper back recruitment, which many individuals have a weakness in.

Photo credit: crossfitwired.com.au

Photo credit: crossfitwired.com.au

By recruiting more of the upper back muscles, “desk jockeys” who are stuck in a sitting, forward, rounded posture all day typing on computers, driving, etc. can greatly benefit from this exercise.

Since you are holding the weight overhead, you will not be able to go as heavy as a back or front squat.  Also mobility will be key as you need to get your arms, straight and vertical to the ceiling.  If the weight is too far forward from lack of mobility in the shoulders, you will be less likely to perform the lift safely.

I would recommend using an empty barbell if possible for you to really feel how you will need to hold the abs and stabilize the shoulders to control the weight overhead.  If a barbell is not available or too much weight, then a dowel rod or pvc pipe can be used but will not have the same effect with it’s much lighter weight. However it is still better than nothing.



If you find getting yourself into the overhead position, stay tuned for a post on overhead mobility.  Also I will share some variations of the overhead squat for you to try out as well.


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About The Author

Kevin Fulton

Kevin Fulton is personal trainer in Pittsburgh, PA. His goal is to help his clients look, feel, and move better. In his spare time you can find him under a barbell or practicing jiu jitsu.

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