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Old 04-25-2009, 08:12 AM   #1
Alan O'Donnell
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Default theory-ish question about overhead squats

I've been thinking lately about how to use overhead squats in my training. Basically, my situation is that my OHS is relatively (I think, correct me if I'm wrong here), very good compared to my front squat and back squat. For whatever reason, I have good squat mechanics - my air squat and my OHS are both very upright - which seems to mute the balance/core strength issues that most people have.

I weigh about 182, and a few days ago got 185x5 for OHS. I think that was my fifth day ever trying them, and had previously only tried 165x1. For comparison I'm guessing my FS is around 245ish (I've only tried 225x2 I think, a couple weeks ago), and my LBBS is around 335.

My intuitive sense so far is that the limiting factors on my OHS are my wrists and my ability to BTN jerk the weight overhead - if I can get it up there without breaking my delicate hands off I can probably squat it Balance/core strength doesn't seem to be an issue - I guess because I'm so upright, it's just not very hard to balance the bar once it's overhead. On the 185x5 I was never in danger of bailing, my legs just got tired.

So, what exactly am I gaining by working on my OHS? I feel like I would be better off just bumping up my FS a bunch, and working on my weak pressing strength. More generally, assuming you already have good mechanics, are OHSs "redundant" (ie would you be better off doing more basic lifts)? Or am I just not going heavy enough to get the intended core workout?
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Old 04-25-2009, 09:22 AM   #2
Jacob Rowell
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Sounds like you're on the right track here.

OHS seem to be good for the beginner o-lifter because of the transfer to the snatch. They are somewhat unique in their dependence on core stability and shoulder strength and its development of both, but as a strength development tool, I think you would be better off with other squat variations.

As you said, you're limited by what you can jerk and what your wrists can handle. Bypass those limitations by using a front squat or back squat, and you're now using weights that will be much more effective at getting you stronger. Also, the ohs seems to be one of those exercises that as you progress on squats, presses, jerks, etc.., you're able to progress a great deal on them without specifically training the ohs very much.
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Old 04-25-2009, 09:42 AM   #3
Arien Malec
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan O'Donnell View Post
So, what exactly am I gaining by working on my OHS? I feel like I would be better off just bumping up my FS a bunch, and working on my weak pressing strength. More generally, assuming you already have good mechanics, are OHSs "redundant" (ie would you be better off doing more basic lifts)? Or am I just not going heavy enough to get the intended core workout?
Given where you are in reps above bw, you would be better served working drop snatches for snatch mechanics, snatch push presses, regular push presses and the press for overhead strength, and front/back squats for leg strength.
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Old 04-25-2009, 10:23 AM   #4
Brian DeGennaro
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It's good for bringing the upper body up to par with your leg strength.
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Old 04-25-2009, 10:43 AM   #5
Garrett Smith
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If you need to get stronger from your fingertips to your shoulders and want to get more athletic in the process, you might consider including more handstand and planche progression training...let FS and BS take care of the lower body.
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Old 04-25-2009, 12:17 PM   #6
Brian DeGennaro
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Garret, that is great advice, but it is hard to piece it together without practicing the snatch balance or overhead squat. Those exercises do build up a lot of upper body strength but the OHS/SnBal tie that strength in with the squat movement.
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:04 PM   #7
Garrett Smith
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I'm wondering if we're actually addressing what Alan is concerned about...?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan O'Donnell View Post
I've been thinking lately about how to use overhead squats in my training. Basically, my situation is that my OHS is relatively (I think, correct me if I'm wrong here), very good compared to my front squat and back squat. For whatever reason, I have good squat mechanics - my air squat and my OHS are both very upright - which seems to mute the balance/core strength issues that most people have.
What is the reason you want to include OHS in your training? Is it for reaching certain #s in the OHS (BW x 15reps, for example) or are you trying to improve your OL?
Quote:
I weigh about 182, and a few days ago got 185x5 for OHS. I think that was my fifth day ever trying them, and had previously only tried 165x1. For comparison I'm guessing my FS is around 245ish (I've only tried 225x2 I think, a couple weeks ago), and my LBBS is around 335.
Well, doing BW x 5reps your fifth time out is pretty darn good. I wouldn't say you're deficient in it at this point.
Quote:
My intuitive sense so far is that the limiting factors on my OHS are my wrists and my ability to BTN jerk the weight overhead - if I can get it up there without breaking my delicate hands off I can probably squat it Balance/core strength doesn't seem to be an issue - I guess because I'm so upright, it's just not very hard to balance the bar once it's overhead. On the 185x5 I was never in danger of bailing, my legs just got tired.
If you're well built and prepared (proprioceptive/biomechanics/strength) for the OHS, you're looking to the wrong exercise for a "core workout".
Quote:
So, what exactly am I gaining by working on my OHS?
I don't know exactly. What do you want to gain from it?
Quote:
I feel like I would be better off just bumping up my FS a bunch, and working on my weak pressing strength.
I agree, and still stand behind my initial post on the things I'd use, unless you want to stick with barbell-based exercises.
Quote:
More generally, assuming you already have good mechanics, are OHSs "redundant" (ie would you be better off doing more basic lifts)?
Redundancy depends on your goals. Probably redundant if you are going for higher OL numbers. Weightlifters don't train OHS very much.
Quote:
Or am I just not going heavy enough to get the intended core workout?
The shoulders, wrists, and/or legs will likely give out before you qualitatively feel a "core workout".
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:22 PM   #8
Alan O'Donnell
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Thanks so much for the awesome replies!

Garrett, to be honest I've mostly been doing OHSs because I kinda just like them. Getting 15 reps at BW is a purely numerological goal - I actually don't do any olympic lifting (heh I kinda just don't like it), so this isn't designed to improve my snatch. At some point down the road I'm sure I'll get obsessed with olympic lifting, but for now I'm happier just working on my basic strength. I'm a bit crazy about having perfect technique, so I think I would die of frustration mixing in power and oly lifting at the same time.

Anyways I think I'll take your advice and work on handstand/FS/BS strength, and throw in OHSs for fun now and then.
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:30 PM   #9
Garrett Smith
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Also, some quick self-assessment or coaching on your wrist position in your OHS position could take care of the "delicate wrist" problem, unless this is a previous issue.

My gymnastics training partner does PL and occasional grip training, yet still has pretty delicate wrists--he can hardly stand going into a tuck planche on the floor for 5sec.! I'm sure he'd have issues with his OHS support strength too, if he ever did them...
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:40 PM   #10
Alan O'Donnell
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Yeah, my wrist strength is just bad. I don't have the wrist/finger strength to hold a free HS yet (making progress though), and I can't even quite hold a false grip at full extension on my xtreme rings, at least not easily. And when doing wrist pushups, I have to do them on my knees, with a pike, with my hands raised
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