Overhead Squat

The overhead squat is an advanced weight training movement that is a true test of midline control and develops impressive athleticism, power and speed skills.

Primary Muscle Quadriceps
Secondary Muscle(s) Shoulders, Triceps, Back, Abdominals, Calves, Hamstrings
Difficulty Advanced
Also known as Snatch Squat
Equipment Barbell and Weights
Short Code OHS

The Overhead Squat

The overhead squat is a complex Olympic weightlifting movement that should be tackled by experienced lifters. Essentially the exercise is a deep squat while holding a barbell overhead with straight arms. The movement is a very challenging core exercise, demonstrating excellent stability and balance whilst developing impressive speed and power skills. 

How to Overhead Squat

  1. Stand with feet at least shoulder width apart and a barbell on the floor in front of you.
  2. Bend at the knees and grip the barbell (palms facing you in a pronated position) with the hands wider than shoulder width from each other
  3. Snatch a barbell up to the chest and overhead. The bar should be positioned slightly behind the head with the arms fully extended (this is the starting position)
  4. Slowly lower the weight by bending at the knees until the thighs are parallel to the ground
  5. Drive the weight back up to the starting position with the feet and legs, and repeat for required reps


  • As ever, but particularly important with complex lifts like the Overhead Squat - only use a weight that you're comfortable with to develop proper form
  • The back should be kept straight and feet flat on the floor throughout
  • Instead of snatching the barbell into position you can also push press the bar overhead from a rack

Learning the Overhead Squat

Before taking on the Overhead Squat you should be very proficient with the standard Barbell Squat, able to execute a full range of motion squat with correct form.

When first starting out with the overhead squat it's essential that you don't dive in and begin training with a weighted bar. In fact, it's recommended that you don't even use a bar at first and begin with a length of dowel or PVC pipe to learn the fundamental movement and mechanics of the exercise.

As you perfect the fundamental technique and developed the necessary shoulder flexibility you can introduce weight and increase the load in very small increments.

Related Exercises

Bodyweight squat exercises:

Weighted squat exercises:


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.