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Old 06-21-2008, 12:51 PM   #1
Júlíus G. Magnússon
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Default Overhead Squat - Overrated?

Coming from a CFish background I've been taught that a 15xBW overhead squat is one of the ultimate fitness goals. Then this gets thrown at me:

The Truth About the Overhead Squat

Q: The overhead squat: good exercise or fad movement of the moment? And is it good for hypertrophy?

A: The overhead squat sucks for size gains. But as an assessment tool, it's unbeatable.

You can actually predict a player's risk of lower body injury playing his sport just by assessing how close to perfect form he can get with the overhead squat. Perfect form equals extremely low risk of injury, and research groups in Sweden and Switzerland have clearly demonstrated this in various studies. At the PICP (Poliquin International Certification Program) at level 3, we use it extensively in the prehab/rehab module.

Why does it suck for size gains? Because hypertrophy comes from the product of time under tension times load. It's got to be heavy enough and last long enough. That doesn't happen with the overhead squat.

Even Olympic lifters don't do the overhead squat anymore. People in the know stopped doing them in 1975. It's a forgotten exercise for training purposes... for good reasons.

The only reason people find them challenging is if they're not flexible. It's one of those exercises that looks cool but it's a total waste of time unless you're a novice Olympic lifter learning the ropes. It's like taking a guy who can bench 400 pounds and making him do decline bench with the pink dumbbells with a Bodyblade acting as rectal probe. The question is, why?

Hmm, maybe we should call this column, "Ask the Contrarian", eh?
That's Charles Poliquin writing, who according to Wikipedia has coached Olympic medalists in twelve different sports. It's hard to argue with results like that, so I'm wondering: Is the overhead squat just another CrossFit fad?
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Old 06-21-2008, 01:06 PM   #2
Dave Van Skike
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Originally Posted by Júlíus G. Magnússon View Post
CrossFit fad?
In an evolutionary context, it's all a fad.

The 15 ohs at bodyweight comes from a Dan John article. 15 reps in bodyweight overhead squat is an interesting benchmark, like 20 pullups, various feats of gymanastical exhuberance (what the hell is a planche anyway?), and a sub 5 minute mile. it's certainly a reasonable goal for a person. An accomplished lifter, Peter Puetz who used to post here and posts regularly at P&B has parlayed success in the OHS to a number of other core lifts. Try it an see.
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Old 06-21-2008, 02:00 PM   #3
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First, Oly lifters in general don't give a shit about hypertrophy unless they're moving up a weight class. And to even suggest anyone would use an OHS for hypertrphy is just a misunderstanding of the exercise.

It has utility in developing a strong receiving position for the snatch in concert with the snatch balance. There's a legitimate advantage in having a max OHS that exceeds your max snatch - first, the actual structural strength, and second, the confidence. Does every O-lifter need it at all times? Of course not, and those whose strength base considerably exceeds their classic lifts have no need for it for extended periods of time. But to say it's useful is kind of silly.

I like Poliquin, but a lot of times he leans toward hyperbole instead of sticking with more rationale statements. It's good marketing. Controversy sells. And yes, he may have trained a number of Olympic athletes, but to my knowledge, he's coached no high level weightlifters, so I'm not sure how qualified he is to comment on their training (everyone believes himself an expert on the subject when in reality, people seem to have little idea what world class lifters are doing outside their teams).

I'm more inclined to use the snatch balance than the OHS with a more advanced athlete, but the OHS has its place. Just not 15 reps of it.
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Old 06-21-2008, 08:10 PM   #4
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On the list of misquotes, the 15 x bdwt is high on the list. It was something Mike Weeks did for his athletes and I had tried this several times and had one athlete do it, too.

For us, it was a game...a fun thing to do. There are far better ways to train throwers, HG and strongman come to mind first.

I agree with Greg and hyperbole. It is the only thing that sells now. Read some of the stuff that is on the net and try not to vomit. It's funny, but probably my favorite place to read has become Josh Hillis's blog. A normal person can read his ideas (this week's idea is brilliant) and still live a life.

So, yes, I wrote that in an article for Dino Files (unpaid). Yes, I believe it has value. No, I don't recommend it.

The overhead squat still has a great value, but really a single at bodyweight is just fine.
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Old 06-22-2008, 10:30 AM   #5
Kelly Frankson
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At crossfit Vancouver we spend a lot of time on the overhead squat at the begining because most people have such ugly overhead squats that there is no point even getting them to attempt to do a snatch. It also forces them to work ont heir shoulder flexibility, core stabalization and proper squating technique in general.

I think the whole 15 bodyweight overhead squat thing just came up as a challenge more than anything else. After seeing Nicoles 15 bodyweight overhead squats I decided if she could do it, I could do it to (even though I didnt have a single overhead squat at the time) and 5 months later I did the 15bodyweight overhead squats.

but by know means do I feel that having accomplished the 15 bwohs goal makes me a superior athlete to some one who cant because in retrospect when in life are you going to have to squat your body weight overhead 15 times??? But what having a strong overhead squat does mean is that any snatch I land, I know that I can stand up from.
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Old 06-23-2008, 05:41 AM   #6
Leo Soubbotine
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I like the BW OHS + 50 lbs. Squatting 100 kilos for more than a triple kills my wrists pretty quick.
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Old 06-23-2008, 02:15 PM   #7
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Old 06-25-2008, 11:43 AM   #8
Robb Wolf
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Originally Posted by Júlíus G. Magnússon View Post
Coming from a CFish background I've been taught that a 15xBW overhead squat is one of the ultimate fitness goals. Then this gets thrown at me:

That's Charles Poliquin writing, who according to Wikipedia has coached Olympic medalists in twelve different sports. It's hard to argue with results like that, so I'm wondering: Is the overhead squat just another CrossFit fad?
Here is an irony...if it IS a CrossFit fad, it was started by Dan John originally...pretty sure he is the one that popularized the whole thing relating to discus throwers. the OHS was the go-to exercise for a nationally recognized discuss coach...john powell? Me, I like the OHS a bunch. The folks who CAN actually do the 15x BW schtick tend to display some damn impressive overall athleticism.

Guess I should have read the whole thread!
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Last edited by Robb Wolf; 06-25-2008 at 11:45 AM. Reason: Short attention span.
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Old 06-26-2008, 07:10 PM   #9
Leslie Poole
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Default Love the OHS

My opinion isn't coming from the depth of experience and knowledge as many folks here, but I love the OHS because it helps me train my snatch. Similarly, I love the front squat so I can do a better clean. I think it's an very useful exercise and I recommend it to everyone working on their O lifts.
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