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Respect the Overhead Squat

I love squatting, but I really love overhead squats. I love everything about the movement. I love the fact that it’s hard to do. I love the way it feels to hold heavy weight overhead. I love that it’s part of the snatch. I love that you have to jerk the weight before you can squat it. I love the feeling of a good rep that rides right in the perfect groove. I love that you have to squat perfectly to complete a set. I love that you can’t relax at any point and have to fight with the bar for the whole time. I love the sound bumper plates make when you drop them from about seven feet up after a successful set. The whole movement is simply awesome. I worked up to a heavy triple yesterday after about 20 warm-up reps, most of them very light. I did exactly two heavy sets of 3. The second one was a record, so I took Louie Simmons’ advice and stopped for the day. That’s 23 reps total, and only 3 of them were really heavy. Yet as I type this, I can feel my traps, deltoids and rhomboids tightening, and some of my abs feel righteously worked over. My legs and erectors are reporting that they put in some effort yesterday. I’ll probably be even more sore tomorrow. The overhead squat is a full-body movement that teaches you to hold every part of your yourself tight when you do a set. It also teaches you to focus on the task, because the bar will be on the floor the second your mind drifts away. Too many of us—myself included—relax at the top of a rep when the barbell is resting on our backs, and too many of us don’t set our backs and cores properly for each rep. We relax our shoulders and abs and loosen our cores between reps. We lose focus and we get lazy. And we get away with it because the bar can just sit on our traps while we mess around underneath it. The overhead squat isn’t so forgiving. It’s about tough love, and it punishes every fault ruthlessly, reminding you of exactly what your body should be doing every time you squat. It’s like a teacher who demands the best of you and ends up teaching you more than anyone else. Here’s some overhead work from Dale’s Garage this weekend:

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