OHS – Friend or Foe?

Achilles Heel

We all have a movement or two that burn like a hot coal when they come out of the hopper.  For many it’s the overhead squat.  This phenomenal movement develops the squat like no other, as it punishes under-developed squats at the same time.  Let’s take a moment to break down some common faults that cause a poor overhead squat.

First and foremost, an overhead squat is doomed from the start if your squat set-up is faulty.  Be sure that your heels are under your shoulders with your toes pointed slightly outward.  As with any squat, shift your body weight towards your heels and away from the forefoot.  With your knees and hips extended and locked out, stabilize the midline by pressurizing the abdomen and firing your back extensors.

Photo courtesy of CrossFit.com

The same holds true for your overhead position–a bad set-up guarantees you won’t reach your potential today.  Let’s review our 3 step set-up for a great overhead position:

1. Shoulder blades pinched together 
2. Shoulders elevated into your ears (like, waaaay up) 
3. Rotate your elbows towards the wall in front of you 

During the execution, there are a couple of faults to be aware of…..  First, don’t get lazy and lose your overhead position.  All 3 elements of the set-up for your overhead position must be maintained for the duration of the movement (all 3 reps).  Second, make sure that you don’t allow the bar to leave the frontal plane.  In order to drive out of the bottom of your squat, the barbell must be directly over your area of base (directly over your heels and shoulder blades).  Lastly, be diligent to execute your squat as you would with no load – weight in the heels, hips and knees back, chest upright, and eyes straight ahead.

Follow these tips and turn a weakness into a strength.  Don’t allow yourself to accept having an achilles heel.  Go forth and lift heavy (or work on your form w/ light weight).