Proper Overhead Squat Position

Tery cursing through some double-unders.

Overhead Squat 1-1-1-1-1

“Grannie” (15 min cap)
for time reps of:
Double Unders 50/40/30/20/10
Clean & Jerk 10/8/6/4/2 (135#/95# or 50% of 1RM C&J)

Post – 30 ghd situps


Proper Overhead Squat Position
-Glenn Clarke

This last week there has been several workouts that have relied heavily on the Snatch and Overhead Squat. One of the major faults that many people (including veteran Crossfitters) demonstrate is a passive overhead squat position, particularly in the bottom of the squat.


This position leverages the stretch in the deltoids and pectorals to support the weight. There are a couple of problems with this position.

The bar will always find its place over the heels. This forces the upper torso to lean far over the toes, raises the hips and ensures that proper depth is never reached.
By utilizing the passive stretch the total amount of weight that can be lifted limited structurally, i.e. no matter how strong you get you can only lift as much as your shoulders and chest can hold when stretched. For an idea of this think about the Turkish Get-up. As long as there is a line from the wrist, elbow and shoulder the movement is much stronger.
It’s more work.


This picture shows the bottom of a mature overhead squat position. The key points of emphasis for this position:

There is a straight line from the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip and heel. This movement in particular is helped by lifting shoes
She is actively ‘pushing’ the bar up. The core is tight and the position is strong.
So what can we do to improve this position?

Bring your hand position in. With a couple of very tall exceptions, nobody should be outside of the second ring. Unless you’re about 6’ 6”+ you don’t need to be touching the collars. Every inch wider increases the length of the lever (remember physics). This alone will add a lot of weight and stability to the movement.
Practice your squat. The snatch and overhead squat require a great squat. Force yourself to practice the squat with perfect form (shoulders back, weight on heels, head neutral)
Cues: ‘Cover the ears’ ‘Push the bar to the ceiling’ ‘lift the shoulders’
Mobility: Roll out (Foam roller or Lacrosse ball). Specifically your calves, gluteus and upper back. These three things alone will help your squat immensely.
If you’re still having trouble with this movement, ask one of the coaches for help. This movement is one where just some minor changes in technique can really improve the quality of the movement; it’s definitely worth taking a couple of minutes to file down some of those rough edges.


  1. anjali says

    damn tery you look hot!
    great article glenn…i now see what you were trying to tell me before. i really should listen to you more! :=)

  2. Jean says

    Worked on OHS yesterday, but probably looked more like picture 1 than picture 2. Thanks for the great article, Glenn. While the squat is difficult, I also have problems getting the weight overhead when we cannot use a rack. Push pressing it from the back of the neck is still pretty painful for my shoulders.

    Metcon at my office building gym: Grannie
    DUs 50-40-30-20-10 (scaled to 30-25-20-15-10)
    C&J w/ 20# DBs (slightly more than 50% 1RM Clean; don’t know what my 1RM C&J is)

  3. Jamba Juice (Gina) says

    Overhead Squat 105#….I couldn’t get 115# off of my back :( last time I PR’d at 115# off a high rack. If we had more time, I know that I can OHS at least 115# again but I need to take it off of a high rack.

    Metcon @ 85#

    After those 10 C&J, I had trouble getting back into the DU because my shoulders were worn out! The C&J slowed me down the most, but it was a good weight

  4. carp says

    Ohs 1-1-1-1 95-115-135-157(2# PR) thanks Randy for the instruction and the extra two pounds! Still have more in me just need to keep the core tight and shoulders active.

    Wod at 105# 6:33. Could have gone a little heavier. Jerk was more of a push press. Double unders were inconsistent.

    Nice 6am class this morning!!

  5. says

    205# (PR)

    Ive always had a problem jerking heavy weight into the OHS position from behind my neck. Jerking the weight overhead was tougher than squatting it. I need to continue working the jerk.

    Metcon Rx’d at 135#

    Time – 8:13

  6. abbey says

    warm up: 33 (5), 55 (3)
    65-75-85-90 called it a day there

    Metcon: 6:47

    happy valentines…rocked the heart socks today

    thanks to vu for the CF talls!!!

  7. A. Craven says

    OHS – maxed at 90#, new PR up from 85#. tried 100# but couldn’t lock it into position well enough to actually start the squat.

    WOD – 11:00 at 70#. I couldn’t get into a rhythym on the double unders until the 30 round. After that, I felt like I was cruising but I struggled during the 50 and 40 rounds.

    Thanks to the xfit fam’ for all the birthday love on Facebook yesterday.

  8. AllDay says

    Great article. Glenn had me narrow my grip a few weeks back on my OHS, and it’s much more comfortable on my wrists.

    Did C&Js yesterday so will make this one up tomorrow.

    Mon. Workout:

    BP 5-5-5 / 185-195-205

    CTB Deadhang Pullups (Palms facing towards each other), 5×5

    Metcon, 5 rounds for time:
    500 m row
    10 KBS (1.5 pood)
    10 burpees

    Time: 16:15

    More of an active recovery workout as I hit it hard yesterday. Rows 2:00-2:05, everything unbroken.

  9. Sarah W. says

    OHS was pretty sad and would have liked a little more time. I went really light on the WOD this am after taking quite a few days off and eating pretty poorly. I am trying to really get my DUs down and am ending up w/ serious marks on my arms! Horrible!

  10. Glenn Clarke says

    @ Anthony, that’s a great point I forgot to mention. If you’re having wrist pain it’s a solid indicator that you are going too wide and you are pinching the anatomy of the wrist.

  11. Brett L says

    Worked on front squat since shoulder can’t take OHS
    135 – 165 – 185 – 205(PR). Room for more.

    WOD – 8:04 – 95# and 1/2 DUs. Weight felt fine. DUs coming along. Great way to start whats going to be a busy week.

  12. says

    I’ve been a busy man the past 24 hours. Here’s the breakdown;

    60 min row for max meters

    15439m & 1059 Cals. Not as bad as I thought it would be and had too much left at the end, Just mentally broke it up into 10 min intervals and needed to get at least 5k every 20 mins, Avg pace was 1:57. Again it’s distances like this that reveal how much more efficient my form has become over the past several weeks. Going into it I predicted a pace fall off on the last 20 mins but I held up just fine.

    10 sets:
    3 rounds of Cindy as fast as possible, rest 2:30

    All sets unbroken and b/w 1:37-1:43. Most were 1:39 or 1:40.


    3 sets @ max effort:
    10 unbroken touch n go power clean @ 175#
    20 ring dips
    Rest 10 mins b/w sets

    Times – :49, :50, :51

    3 sets @ max effort:
    15 unbroken touch n go SDHP @ 135#
    15 burpees
    Rest 10 mins b/w sets

    Times – :59, :56, :58

    Couple more wods tonight and we rest hard tomorrow.

  13. William says

    WOD – 7:20 – I went very light on the Clean Jerks because I didn’t feel so hot. I found the secret on the double unders which was using that thicker rope with the purple handles and cranked out the first 3 sets unbroken.

    OHS need some major work.

  14. says

    Also I’ll add that a few mins of simple band stretches (many of which can be found on, foam rolling, and lacrosse ball therapy on your back/shoulders can instantly increase your shoulder range of motion for the all important lockout overhead on these squats. Check out that blog or ask coaches for a few of those stretches and you’ll see an immediate difference

  15. Mike H. says

    Alex an hour on the C2!? Now that is mental toughness.

    Good article Glen. My wrists always hurt when I OHS, because as you mentioned, I position my hands too wide. The problem is when I bring my hands in I have a really hard time stabilizing the weight overhead. I think it all goes back to my poor shoulder flexibility so I’ve got to keep working at that.

    OHS – 105-115-125-135 (PR) – Used wrist wraps for the first time and it really helped.

    Metcon – 8:23 – 105# C&J

    30 GHD Sit-ups

  16. Glenn Clarke says

    @ Mike
    From what you’re describing I think you could actually work on your squat position and you’ll be better off. The straighter/ more upright you are in the bottom of your squat the more stable you are/ less flexibility you need.

  17. tom cullen says

    OHS 155 twice… my shoulder felt fine when the weight was up there, but getting it up there/dropping it was painful. So I stopped there.

    WOD 95# 10:30
    1st 50 DU’s only got hung up once… then they just fell apart.

  18. AmyA says

    I’m sure this has been asked on here before, but would anyone recommend an ortho/sports med doc they’ve used? Specifically for foot/ankle.

  19. T says

    Oi! That would be Silverback, not Grannie! And Mrs Grannie soon at that! I love you guys

    I did C&J yesterday and am looking forward to a little payback. I’m also a lil scrawny these days, so please take nothing I blather personally

  20. Andrea says

    OHS 1-1-1-1-1
    made it up to 70# – a new 1RM.
    Could have probably done 75# but was tired – did too many reps to get to 70#. Now that I know, I’ll start a little heavier. I guess shoulder is feeling better and stability is improving. Based on Glenn’s post, I’m sure my hands were too wide.

    Metcon 50/10, 40/8, 30/6, 20/4, 10/2 of DU’s/C&J (50#):
    Wasn’t nearly tired enough at the end. Could have given it more effort and could have gone up to 60# on C&J. Did all as double-unders, no scaling.

  21. Daniel Pische says


    My wife Amber manages the Accelerated Rehab in Old Town and I asked her for some references for a good ortho / sports medicne doctor. She has worked closely with two in the area and their info is below. I hope this helps.

    Dr. Michel Chin
    The Running Institute
    111 North Wabash Avenue, Ste 1919
    Chicago, IL 60602-2002
    (312) 977-1179

    Dr. Davd Guelich
    Chicago Orthopaedics & Sports
    3000 N Halsted St
    Chicago, IL 60657-5190
    (773) 433-3130

  22. Jonny says

    If you haven’t seen them, we have new CFC tank tops. We’re doing a presale, 2 for $35 (mix and match ok). Singles will be the regular price of $20 each. Sample tank tops will be around later this week for sizing.

    Email Jonny at crossfitchicago [.] com to reserve yours.

    Socks are also in. We have a couple dozen available for sale ($12). Guys, we’re redoing yours and they should be in by the end of the month. If you preordered, see a coach tomorrow to pick it up.

  23. skins says

    Back to Back workouts while on vaca! Yeah baby! I decided no modelo, corona or pacifico until after I get my wod in today!

    Went in the late afternoon sun to really sweat!

    Started with 100 single unders and 50 double unders to warm up after a solid and much needed stretch! Was sweating like crazy.

    Started with Annie – no idea my time but everything was unbroken and fast and feeling good.

    Then decided to do 5 rounds of UNBROKEN 100 single unders 50 double unders; if I was “tripped” up at any point of any round, I had to start that round over. It was a great test especially in the burning sun.

    Was tripped up in round 4 and 5 during single unders only!

    Feeling good and ready to celebrate with a Modelo!

  24. Erin A says

    OHS 100# new PR, was really happy with that, still had a little left in me, but at the end was too tired to get the bar overhead…thanks to Andrea for all her support :)

    did not scale the DUs, it slows me down, but happy that I am getting better at them…slowly but surely
    55# for C+J

    a fun 9am class with Kelly!

  25. Erin C says

    OHS 1RM 165# (15# PR from last time)

    6:08 Rx’d

    Cleans were actually harder to string than I anticipated and for some reason my du’s were not there today. This could definitely be done faster.

  26. Lizzie F. says

    65-70-75-80-85 (PR, but first time trying for 1RM)

    50-40-30-20-10 DUs Rx’d
    10-8-6-4-2 C+J 65#

    Time: 8:44

    This WOD felt pretty good. DUs are getting better, stringing more together even when I’m tired.

  27. Chris says

    OHS 185-205-230F-230-240-250PR

    Previous PR was 225. Happy with this today, about an inch narrower grip made a huge difference on the wrists and jerk. 250 jerk was the easiest and fastest of heavy weights.

    Metcon – 6:12

    Subbed 2x singles for doubles. C&J unbroken…that was the goal so happy to hit it and should with doing singles. Ready to hit Grace again – goal will be < 2:00.

  28. Katie says

    Had no clue about my 1RM, so kept going to find it. Other than overhead stability, it felt good on the last one. Bryce gave me the tip to use a higher bar to step under it and avoid having to press it overhead. Definitely helped. Thanks Bryce!

    20/10 16/8 12/6 8/4 4/2 (65#) 7:55
    Scaled DU because I haven’t been able to string them together, but during the workout able to get 15 in a row. I need to keep working on these, using single/double rhythm. Did all the C&J unbroken. Heavier weight next time.

    Post 30 GHD’s

  29. Adam says

    1mile run warmup

    Front Squats: 135(10)-155(5)-185(3)-205(2)-225(1)-245(1)

    Metcon @ 5:13
    I subbed Cleans for Clean and Jerks. I did this one at EAC with metal plates so I was being cautious, and I my shoulders were still feeling yesterdays Clean and Jerk Ladder with Anthony.

    Post wod 100 situps.

  30. Nate says

    OHS: 245#, failed twice at 255#

    Metcon: 6:13

    Got a PR by getting 255# overhead today, think I can get 255# and maybe a little more. Both du’s and clean and jerks were ugly in the metcon, seems like I’ve lost my double under form and I had a really hard time stringing clean and jerks.

  31. Josh R says

    OHS 1RM

    95 – 105 – 115 (f) – 115 (f) – 115

    I didn’t get proper depth on my first two attempts at 115, but finally nailed it on my 3rd attempt. I think I can beat that by working on my trusting my balance into the bottom of my squat.

    Metcon: 9:38
    DU 50/40/30/20/10
    Clean and Jerk 95# 10-8-6-4-2

    Not impressed with my time, but the double unders went pretty well (I strung 34 together in the first round, a PR) and I was able to fight through the clean and jerks at a weight that was a stretch for me. I wasn’t stringing the C and J’s together at all, but I took minimal rests in between.

  32. Glenn Clarke says

    OHS: 275#(pr)

    MetCon: 5:01 (really dissaopinted, I thought my DUs were better, but when coupled with shouder movements the quality of the movement goes down signifigantly)

    Post: 4 rounds Gymnsatics WOD Ladder

    HSPU w/ 1″ negative: 3-3-3-3-2-2-1-1-1-1

    Press @ 95# from pins: 5×10 (alternating in front and in back)

  33. Alex says

    OHS – 300# (5# pr for me). I think there’s another 10# in there but a tthis stage in the game when you get a pr you accept it celebrate and leave on a high note.

    Metcon – 4:31

    Like a lot of people have already posted I feel there was much more improvement that could’ve been made. C & Js weren’t as quick as I’d have liked them to be. Shoulders felt sauced from the get. Sub 4 mins is achievable. SImple, fun, classic crossfit wod

  34. Jim says

    Overhead Squat 1-1-1-1-1
    First time doing a 1RM for OHS. The failed attempt was more balance and letting the weight come forward on me. Looking forward to the next time we get to work on heavy OHS.

    for time reps of:
    Double Unders 50/40/30/20/10
    Clean & Jerk 10/8/6/4/2 (135#)

    I think 135# is the tipping point for me when it comes to slowing me down on wods for movements overhead (thrusters, ohs, c&j, etc). It’s just a little too heavy for me to actually sprint through it. Did all singles for C&J. DUs were ok…I seem to do better and get into a rhythm in the later rounds of DU even though I’m more tired. I think I might need to warmup with more DU in the future. Strength was the biggest factor on this one…conditioning felt really good.

    Post – 30 ghd situps

  35. Eriq says

    OHS 95-125-155-165-175
    The hardest part of this movement for me is doing the behind the back jerk. That’s the movement that I injured my shoulder on last summer, so I think I have bad memories of doing that and don’t commit fullly to it–need to practice on that. Also, really need to work on pushing my hips back during OHS. Think I may have had another #10 in me with a little bit more time

    Metcon Rx’d 11:06. Debated about going Rx’d or at #115, and Bryce talked me into going #135. After failing to string together the first C&J I knew it was going to be a struggle. On a positive, got first 50 and 40 DU’s unbroken.

    Post: 30 GHDs

  36. Karen says

    OHS 1RM: 105#PR
    Last time was 100# from the high rack. Was surprised by how easy 105# felt. Failed the jerk on 115# and 110# which was really disappointing because I know I could have done that weight. Damn jerks!

    Metcon @ 85#, rx’d double-unders: 8:39

    Double-unders unbroken except for the round of 40. I’m still feeling like I’m using way too much energy during these. Need to work on posture and jumping straight up and down. Cleans were all easy. Jerks were mostly sloppy press outs. Seriously, I suck at jerks.

  37. Ryan (Meester) says

    OHS 1RM: 135# I actually did 2 of these but ran out of time to try more. The issue is more with holding the weight in the proper position then it is the squat. Thanks to Kurt and Cam for the tips during this one.

    WOD: 8:4x

    I got a new 10′ jump rope and that help DU’s a ton. Went 95# with the C&J which I could probably go higher with.

  38. Bryce says

    OHS – 265

    Metcon – 4:35

    Broke up the clean and jerks more than I thought I was going to, but it looked like that was the trend.

    Really impressed with everyone on the overhead squats yesterday. Mobility on pretty much everyone is getting a lot better.

  39. Peter B says

    After a little vacation…. back at it on Tuesday 9am

    OHS 205lbs: PR by 5lbs.

    WOD RX’d:
    5:58, definitely had way to much left in the tank on this one, just never pushed the pace. I’ll chalk it as a learning experience.

  40. jenn k says

    Back after 3 days sick in bed…
    Not a good sign to be completely taxed after the workout but went for it anyway.

    Was not going for any records today… my PR is 90 and only got up to 75 today.
    Thanks Bryce for really working with my form today.. the last 2 @ 70 and 75 were at full depth and also kept very active at the bottom.

    WOD 10:23
    clean and jerk @ #75
    subbed du’s 20, 16, 12, 8, 4
    Even at this I was struggling like never before…
    Couldn’t string anything together and my clean and jerks were sloppy and broken up all over the place.
    Could not even keep my chest up while cleaning.. Not to mention couldn’t breathe… At least I got my sick butt out of bed!better next time
    Even at this I was completely

  41. Ali G says

    I wore my new Romaleos! Awesome!

    Metcon: 9:59
    DU’s were okay. C&J @ 75#
    I felt like I was in serious slow motion on the C&J’s. Not really mentally in this WOD to begin with…

    Post: 30 GHD sit ups

  42. Elisabeth says

    OHS 135#
    Tried 145# 3x, first time couldn’t get it over head, 2nd and 3rd attempts were progressively closer to success. Looking forward to trying that again.

    DU and C&J
    95#, 16:??
    DU debacle. Not sure if shoulder fatigue made that much difference, the set of 50 was reasonable and it just got worse until Bryce suggested alternating singles and doubles (timely suggestion made on the set of 10).

    30 GHds

  43. AllDay says

    OHS: Trying out the new, more narrow stance from Coach Glenn. Worked up to #175. PR is #200, went for #205 and wasn’t close.

    “Grannie,” Rx’d @ #135: 5:36

    Actually did this backwards and started w/ C&J, which made my DUs shaky. Weight felt good, planning on learning how to string #135 together. End of the week so feeling a little tired, easy day tomorrow.

    Post: 30 GHDs

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