Blog Header Image

Isaac Callihan


February 12, 2024

The Overhead Squat

The overhead squat is one exercise that truly targets your entire body - from your shoulders and back to your core and the entire lower body. When performed with proper technique, it can enable you to increase your strength and work on your mobility and flexibility so that you can do other exercises better. With that said, the overhead squat is an Olympic lift that’s not always suitable for complete beginners. The biggest challenge with it is that it often highlights all sorts of mobility weaknesses and stability limitations that you might have, especially related to thoracic spine, shoulder, ankle and hips. That’s why it’s almost impossible for some people to perform this exercise with proper form, even more so when they haven’t learned the proper overhead squat technique.

PS Our 8-Week Olympic Lifting program starts on 2/24 and only has 9 spots left! Learn more at!

Having said that, even though it's difficult and challenging, the overhead squat is one exercise you should be doing. If you’re a beginner, you can start with overhead squat progression until you train yourself to the point where you can do the actual exercise with no issues.

One of the best things about the overhead squat is that it helps you find the weaknesses you have in your body. It shows you where you lack mobility or strength and hints at what you need to work on. But that’s just one of many benefits of performing this complex exercise. Other ones include.

When people ask, “what muscles do overhead squats work” the answer is always - “almost all of them.” The overhead squat is a full-body complex exercise that doesn’t only target your upper or lower body, it trains almost all the muscles in the body. With the weight being above your head in the squat position, you’re using more muscles from each side of your body compared to if you were just doing a regular squat with your arms hanging down your sides. This trains your stability and balance because it requires your core to work on keeping you in the correct spot throughout the entire exercise.

The overhead squat is just for you if you want to improve your balance. It’s an exercise that requires you to use your core and leg muscles to maintain proper form throughout the entire range of motion. And so, if you have poor balance by regularly incorporating overhead squats into your training routine, you will surely improve quickly, and you will see that that translates to other weightlifting exercises.

Your core is the center of your body, and it’s what essentially helps utilize the strength of your upper and lower halves. The muscles in your core also help you maintain good posture and keep balance - for most athletes having a strong core is vital for athletic performance. And it also helps prevent lower back injuries. The overhead squat is a great way to work your core while also putting the needed emphasis on developing lower and upper body strength.

The overhead squat is a challenging but extremely beneficial exercise when performed right. This movement benefits most athletes on maximizing strength, power and body awareness, as it helps build strength while also working on stability, balance, and mobility. It’s an Olympic lift that is not always suitable for beginners. But thankfully, there are many variations of this exercise that can help you prepare for doing the actual movement, and working on doing so will help you become a better overall athlete.

If you want to improve your overhead squat, and your clean and jerk and snatch, check out our 8-Week Olympic Lifting program coached by the amazing Grace Dickinson!

Continue reading