Overhead Squats - exercises that you should be doing

An awesome exercise that tones the whole body. It requires a mix of strength, balance and flexibility. Unfortunately, you don't see many gym goers trying this exercise. It's a firm favourite of olympic weightlifters and the Crossfit fraternity.

Until you have the technique and flexibility, you might find the barbell too heavy. Try using a wooden or plastic broom stick to help build technique before progressing to something heavier.

Alternatively, if you are really struggling with flexibility, try overhead dumbbell or kettlebell squats.  (See Below).

Have fun!

  • Type: Olympic Weightlifting
  • Main Muscle Worked: Quadriceps
  • Other Muscles: Abdominals, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back, Shoulders, Triceps
  • Equipment: Barbell - If the barbell is too heavy to start with, try a lightweight plastic or wooden pole.
  • Mechanics Type: Compound


  1. Set the pins of a squat rack at shoulder height. Place your barbell on those pins and load up with the required weight. Now take a wider than shoulder width grip and lift the bar off the rack keeping it close to your body. Next, press the bar above your head and fully extend your arms. Lock out your elbows and take a small step backwards. Adopt a shoulders width stance with your toes slightly pointing outward. Maintain a straight back throughout this movement. This will be your starting position.
  2. Inhale and begin to descend by bending at your knees and hips. Your weight should be put predominantly through your heels as you sit back into the movement until your thighs are either parallel or just past to the floor.
  3. After a brief pause, exhale and return the bar to the starting position along the same path, push through your heels with the force being driven through your quads and glutes to do so. Stand to attention with your legs fully extended, back straight and arms perpendicular to the ground..
  4. This is a hard strength exercise - keep the repetitions down to around 5.

Finding the barbell overhead squat too difficult? Try these variations with dumbbells or kettlebells.