Overhead Series 3 of 4 : Overhead Stacking

posted in: hip, overhead squat, shoulder, squat | 0

This week we’re changing gears slightly. We’ve been focusing on the overhead position in the bottom of the squat. But your overhead position at the top of the lift is important, too. And chances are, if your overhead position is gross in standing, it’s probably even worse in the bottom. So let’s sort out the top on how to do overhead stacking properly where things are much less complicated and there are less demands on your mobility.


From a coaching perspective, the majority of faults I see here are related more in the areas of spinal awareness and motor control. Commonly, you’ll see novice, and even many intermediate, lifters overextended in their spine as well as sporting an excessive anterior pelvic tilt. Ladies, this is the pose you make when you want to make your butt look bigger… or want to look fancy in group photos.

This is a no-no when it comes to holding weight overhead or holding weight period. For many people, this feels like a stable position. The reason for this is that the bones of your spine are literally touching each other and you’re able to relax here. This is a great way to develop spondylosis (http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00053) or other spinal injuries. No bueno.

Lifting with your spine overextended is not only unsafe, it is tremendously inefficient if you’re trying to push or hold heavy loads overhead. It’s like trying to transmit power through a squishy spring. By engaging your glutes (putting your pelvis into a more posterior tilt) and engaging your abs to bring your ribcage down, we create a much more solid and safe overhead position. The idea is to stack the bones to help bear the load from your hands, through your arms into your shoulder, down your spine, pelvis, legs, and balanced across the feet.

Grab a friend and a PVC pipe. Take turns checking out each other’s spinal and pelvic alignment in the overhead position. Practice cueing each other to get everything organized. You may find that with everything cinched down, you may be missing shoulder flexion (this is the ability to hold your arms straight over head). Do your best to fight for ideal position. You may not get it all in one day, but keep at it regularly and keep striving for that safe and efficient overhead position. There are tons of resources on improving your overhead mobility on our website and at mobilitywod.com With diligent work, not only will you see your performance improve, but you’ll be able to stay at it longer and healthier.

Again, if you have any questions we’re here to help.