Friday, October 20, 2006

A Bit Of Craziness

The overhead squat is a nasty exercise. Even at relatively light loads, it takes tremendous focus to put the weight up and keep it there.

Last night, I got a taste of the pain inherent in flinging a bunch of steel and rubber above your head and squatting for reps. It was entirely self-inflicted, and it was excellent.

Dan John wrote about a young collegiate thrower in his e-book “From the Ground Up". When asked what exercise he would do if he could start his training at square one, the thrower replied, “The overhead squat.”

Apparently, the young man’s coach wouldn’t allow anyone to throw unless that individual could perform 15 consecutive overhead squats with a bodyweight load. This is a mean feat. If you can pull it off, you can probably beat everyone you know at everything they do, strength or otherwise.

Every muscle participates, making this one of the premier strength exercises on the planet. You could never do another movement, and you’d have amazing stability and strength across a variety of pursuits.

I cut the bodyweight requirement into tiny little pieces, and it still turned me into a pile of uselessness. Neal Thompson and I came up with this bit of masochism, dubbed “Therapy”:

6 rounds for time:

200m Sprint
5 Overhead Squats (1/2 bodyweight)
10 Burpees
15 Push Presses (1/2 bodyweight)

During the third round, my wrists gave out, and I had an epic time trying to keep my shoulders active. If you’ve ever questioned the meaning of “active shoulders”, the overhead squat will resolve your skepticism immediately. Keeping the load from pulling you onto your face requires full-body tension and the ability to put your shoulders into your occipital lobes.

Achieving that tension after 200 meters of all-out sprinting is a sick joke.

I took the bar from the floor every time. I push jerked it overhead and settled the bar behind my neck. From this position, I took a snatch grip and push jerked the load again, assuming the top position of the overhead squat. If you’re feeling particularly ballsy, a snatch will get you there faster.

The shoulders go into the inner-ear canal, and holding your breath is not optional—this practice generates the tension needed to keep the bar up when you’re down in the hole.

Every time through was agony, and I f*cking loved it.

Give “Therapy” a shot, and let me know where you end up. I managed it in 27:24 with an 85-pound load for both strength movements.

Go faster!

For Coach Glassman's take on the Overhead Squat, pick up the August 2005 Crossfit Journal. It's five bucks worth of brain-candy.

Photo of Pyrros Dimas courtesy of Stop by on Monday for all the dirty details of the Boston Certification Seminar.


Blogger CrossFit Cape Fear & Designs In Fitness said...

Souds agonizing!!! We'll give it a whirl next week.

Thanks or the call and I'll start dropping pix asap - including some of HEIDI doin turkish get-ups with the bar and chains!!!!!!!

10/20/2006 11:22:00 PM  

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