Olympic Lifting: How Do I Squat? Let Me Count The Ways

Overhead Squat Diagram from Crossfit.com

It’s been well established that the Barbell Back Squat is one of the best exercises for developing full body strength.

However, when it comes to the world of Olympic Weightlifting, one has to be able to perform all the squats, and impeccably — particularly the Front Squat and the Overhead Squat.

Neither the Clean & Jerk nor the Snatch include or finish with the Back Squat Position. So while the Back Squat is a superior strength developer, it does not address the positions specific to the Olympic lifts.

For that reason, the Front Squat and Overhead Squat must be focused on more in the weightlifting program, as those movements are part of the chain of actual events and so can be limiting factors.

The Overhead Squat is an especially difficult movement that feels very different from the Back Squat. It’s also quite mechanically different. And the same holds true for the Front Squat, with a completely different placement of the weight.

A person could be able to squat a truck, yet balk at the Overhead or Front Squat position because of the different body mechanics that require solid core strength and mobility around the shoulders and hips. However, this does not at all mean stop including Back Squat.

It’s probable that many peoples’ Snatch weight lags behind the Clean & Jerk because of simply not giving Overhead Squat enough attention, giving disproportionate emphasis to the Back Squat, which -once again- has great carryover to the Olympic lifts, but does not appear.

There is challenge in working on the Overhead Squat more, and that is demand on the shoulders. For this reason, low rep focus should be used. That is a recommendation based on the context of Olympic lifting alone and squatting progressively heavier weights overhead with stability and confidence.

Much Weightlifting programming I’ve seen has tended to include by far more Front Squat than Overhead, and again this may be another reason the Clean & Jerk can be far stronger than the Snatch.

Identifying possible limiting factors is key for progression, because then one can target them to overcome plateaus. This is one of many examples.


Published by sarah ikerd

@sarah.ikerd / owner

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