The overhead squat is an extremely complex exercise to perform safely and correctly. It requires a high level of mobility, stability and strength – combined in the appropriate order. However, it is the foundation stone of good movement and can confer a number of distinct benefits which can be translated into improved sporting performance. In this short article we unpack five of the most notable of these benefits.
- BETTER POSTURE
As the ultimate test of good movement, you have no choice but to adopt optimal posture when executing an overhead squat. Arms should be aligned with your ears throughout, your spine should neutral and the angle from your back to your knee should kept as close to 90 degrees as possible. Every joint has to act in the manner in which it was designed to act – stable foot, mobile ankle, stable knee, mobile hip, stable lumbar spine, mobile thoracic spine, stable scapulothoracic spine. The flip side is that in order to improve your posture through the overhead squat, you already need to possess a high degree of mobility through your ankle, hip and thoracic joints.
- HELPS HARNESS BIOKINETIC ENERGY
Biokinetic energy is a complex concept. Essentially it refers to your body’s ability to regenerate or recycle energy that has already been created by your other energy systems, or to create further energy through existing motion. Without getting too technical, one of the best ways of improving biokinetic energy is to invert your body by doing a handstand. An overhead squat can be viewed as the inversion of a handstand.
- INCREASED HIP MOBILITY AND STRENGTH
Our hips can be viewed as the pivot around which everything hinges when we move. Good movement is only possible if you possess strong mobile hips. As a whole body, multi-jointed exercise, the overhead squat allows us to achieve a higher degree of hip mobility and strength.
- GREATER PROPIOCEPTIVE AWARENESS
Proprioception is another intricate concept and is often referred to as a sixth sense. In simple terms it can be described as our awareness of our body’s position within space and is independent of all of our other senses. By having to control a weight over our head and maintain stable contact with the ground as we descend through the squat position, we enhance our awareness of where our joints are in relation to one another and hence improve our proprioception.
- IMPROVED SHOULDER STABILITY
Shoulder stability is crucial in swimming, and any sport that involves throwing or striking from the upper body. By having to actively stabilise a weight overhead for the full duration of the movement, an overhead squat is one of the best methods of enhancing shoulder stability.
At MYP Coaching, we use the overhead squat as a primary screening tool when assessing any client’s movement. Once the fundamentals of good movement have been established, the overhead squat is often incorporated into an individual’s gym plan so as to reap the aforementioned benefits.