Overhead Squats

Obviously, from about 2001 or so…an answer to an Overhead Squat question.

I get the bar overhead for O.Squats by snatching it from the floor. I gave my racks away a couple of years ago, so I take everything from the floor. However, when I go out to Juan Diego Catholic High School, I use their racks and push jerk them up with the snatch grip. I find I can add a lot of weight with the racks, but, for me, the amount on the bar is no longer much of an issue.

As to “how much,” it is going to vary. I had a high school boy do close to 300 at a bodyweight of 215. I always used this wierd formula I got from Mike Weeks to do 15 reps with bodyweight as a goal. It doesn’t mean you do this as a workout!!! It is a yearly or seasonal workout to test yourself. My best snatch in a meet is 314 and the most I have ever done for a single is 315. I think most guys would agree that going “top end maxs” on overheads would not have a ton of value. I like to keep the reps in the 3’s, 5’s, and 8’s. Doing two sets of five with the overhead three times a week is not a bad plan of attack. Don’t miss, by the way. Build up slowly and go deep.

I found that some variations of snatch deadlifts really have helped me:

1. Simple snatch deadlifts with a shrug at the end. Keep your back tight, push the floor away and finish with an “I don’t know” shrug.

2. The “Explosive Snatch Deadlift” Think of it, for experienced guys, as Snatch Pulls with straight arms. You try to accelerate as fast as you can without doing any arm bend. A great exercise.

3. The Kono-style snatch pulls. Finally, get into your deep position with arms extended and mark that spot, or just use where your chin touches your chest. Have someone hold a broomstick at that high mark. The broomstick should be horizontal. Then, do whatever it takes to whack the broomstick with the loaded bar. This is how I learned snatch pulls; in a few reps, it all makes sense.

I did 405 in the snatch deadlift and shrug when I was 20, but could only snatch 259. I’m sure that I have snatch pulled in the 300’s, but the first variation, the snatch dl and shrug would be MILES above that. Pulls should be no more than 10 percent heavier than your top snatch or clean, I read some where. In my case, I actually like to pull lighter, but much higher, than my usual O lifts because I like the focus on “finishing” the pull.

Some recommend bringing your chest down to meet the bar (some Romanians, the East Germans), but for my thinking, Tommy Kono got it right.

Like throwing events, the second pull does require some timing and position. I like this drill that I posted in my O lift article:

For new lifters, I stress a drill that sounds crazy, but works well. I teach new lifters to take the bar from the floor to about two inches above the knee as SLOWLY as possible, one inch a second. Why? It teaches the core truth of lifting (and throwing): proper acceleration. When the bar gets to that spot two inches above the knee: jump! That’s it. Snatch or clean, you have just learned the key principles. I taught this method to a group of junior discus throwers at the Olympic Training Center, very quality athletes, and several of them made personal record cleans within just a few minutes. Now, these were very good athletes, well trained throwers, adding ten to twenty pounds from a simple drill. But, they learned to use their legs and body to lift the bar rather than their “guns.”

What this seems to do is make your body get into the correct positions of “shoulders over the bar” and “bar sliding on the body.”

You might find people who criticize the drill, but I have taught lots and lots of high school kids to clean over two hundred and this is the key drill that stops them from doing deadlifting reverse curls to a clean.

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