It’s unlikely that you are highly mobile in all of these areas—which is why the overhead squat is often avoided by so many athletes. You MUST invest the time into sufficiently mobilizing the above muscle groups in order to externally rotate your hips and become comfortable squatting with the bar overhead.
Let´s break this exercise down in order to understand and analyse
1. YOUR GRIP
- The bar should be in the palm, slightly behind the center line of the forearm.
- Grip the bar so that when it is placed overhead it is about 6-8 inches above the top of your head.
- The hand and wrist are allowed to settle with the wrist extended. Don’t try to hold the wrist in a neutral position.
If the bar is placed in the proper position in the hand, it will not place undue strain on the wrist. Ideal hand and wrist position does require a good deal of mobility, which should be worked on to allow you to hold the bar properly. If you are flexible enough, the hook grip can be maintained overhead, but the grip must be relaxed to allow the hand and wrist to settle in properly.
Your head should be in a semi-neutral position, eyes looking forward, chest held high.
If you are that tight, try to loosen it up by taking a lacrosse ball and stand against the wall. The ball should be on the muscles between your shoulder blade and your spine. Put as much of your body weight on the ball as you can stand without wincing (you know the feeling!) and start to make snow angels. Start at the top of your traps and work your way down on both sides. If your pectorals are tight, this same process can be done by laying flat down on top of the ball starting where the pec and the deltoid meet. This active release method can do wonders for loosening up the musculature.
Given that this movement requires you to hold a weighted bar overhead, much of the stability work will go to the core, most predominately the lower back. If you do not have an active midline when performing the Overhead Squat, you are disposed to hyper-extending the lower back, resulting in an unfavorable overhead position—AND putting yourself at risk of injury. It is therefore imperative that you strengthen your core muscles and mobilise your lower back as often as possible.
Instead take a moment to stabilize yourself and the bar. Make sure that you’re flatfooted, weight in your heels and your elbows and shoulders are turned out (active shoulders). This will reduce the risk of losing control of the bar path when you rise out of the squat and keep you moving efficiently: However; don´t stay there too long, anyone who is familiar with dead stop exercises knows why!
The feet MUST stay just outside the hips. The reason for this is to allow the hips to squat right in between the heels. This does two things for the lifter. First, it keeps the lifter upright and maintains a vertical torso. Second, it allows the lifter to keep their hips under the bar which allows the bar to be more stable over the center of gravity.