The overhead squat provides a significant challenge to many athletes. The combination of lower body power, core stability, and overhead strength can humble many respectable athletes. If you practice the Olympic lifts or CrossFit, then this is a skill set you must master for optimal performance.

Ankle mobility

Test Ankle Dorsiflexion – standing upright with your heel on the ground, see if you can get your knee at least 4 inches past your big toe at least. This is one of the most common issues that no one talks about as a limiting issue with the depth and strength in the overhead squat.


There are two main reasons a vertical torso is advantageous in an overhead squat. First, this position will improve overall trunk stability (specific to this lift). Second, a more upright torso will keep the shoulder from having to go into an extreme hyper-abduction to keep the barbell over the midfoot.

Shoulder stability

A great drill to improve shoulder stability is a goblet squat with a single arm press. Begin this movement with light weight to focus on staying tall in the midline and hold the weight overhead for 2 seconds and control the negative.

Hip mobility

The hips are a ball and socket joint, allowing for movement in multiple planes of motion (flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, circumduction). The ability to move the joint freely within the hip socket is vital to squatting, as all movement planes are needed throughout the entire range of motion. Poor hip mobility can result from issues at the hip, around the hip, or above or below the hip joint, making this joint by joint checklist a necessary part in the diagnosis of the specific limitation(s) while performing the overhead squat.

Written by: Wes Steel