Straight arms squats - please explain

Chad was recently talking-up straight arm squats. I don’t really get why that’s so amazing for the trunk (core)? If anything, I feel like with one arm straight-up cocks the spine a little out of alignment and maybe not the best thing on the back? Please help me understand why this helps the trunk more than potentially screw-up it up.

Are you talking about overhead squats? If so, there’s definitely a big difference in core activation doing those over a regular squat.

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Yes overhead squats

It’s foundational to the olympic weightlifting movement the snatch. You’re probably right that you have to overextend your spine a bit to get into the position. To hit depth while holding some weight (~135lbs at least) locked out overhead requires good mobility in the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders.

With the proper mobility in place, holding significant weight overhead at depth requires meaningful stabilization from the core/trunk - which is I think what Chad was getting at.

There are a ton of great resources on YouTube for overhead squatting. Check them out if you want to integrate it into your workouts! You’ll want to make sure you’re doing to movement without putting the spine into a dangerous position. Some common spine misalignments to look for are “butt wink” and hyper extension of the thoracic spine (again YouTube is your friend here).

Are you really saying 135lbs single arm raised above the head? That’s insane, am I honestly reading this right? i couldn’t even pick up a 135lb dumb bell if I wanted to.

I think most people would just do that with an Olympic bar + 45lb plate on each side. Shoulder/push press to get it overhead.

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Do a video search for “overhead squat” and you will see the movement. It is traditionally done with a bar and plates but there is a one arm version as well. Elite olympic lifters can overhead squat greater than about 400 lbs. Your average crossfiter is probably somewhere between 135 and 225 pounds.

If you try them start with very light weight (i.e. plastic dowel or empty bar) and do some reading or watch some videos for technique. It is an advanced exercise and many people do not have the shoulder, hip, and ankle mobility to move much weight without practice. They are excellent for midline stability and improving squat technique but take practice and those goals can be accomplished with other exercises.

Chad was talking about one arm over head squats but @m4bowen is talking about the more typical overhead squat where you use a barbell in both hands. Something like this:

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Gotcha all. I like the concept using two arms with a bar better than Chad’s one straight arm overhear to keep the back better aligned, but I doubt a typical 150lb cyclist could do this with 135lbs even two armed overhead. That’s some serious weight!

Ha! I would bet a very small percentage of 150lb cyclists could even get the 135lbs into the overhead position. Let alone do an squat with it there.

Agree. I prefer this - power clear + jerk. Can do with one or two dumbbells.

Solid points already given
The Overhead squat is also used as a baseline mobility assessment given by most fitness trainers. You can tell how and or where you have mobility issues. There are lots of videos on this and reasons why your body moves the way it does when doing one. Search “overhead squat assessment” and there’s plenty of resources.

When lifting was my main form of exercise, I could overhead press 60kg / 135lbs. Never tried overhead squats. I agree – I don’t think a typical cyclist could do it.

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I think I got to 45 or 47.5kg 5x5 last lifting season, never tried a maximal 1RM effort.

Somewhere between 5 and 10 reps, can’t recall exactly. I remember the weight because it was one plate either side!

I always sucked at upper body work relative to lower body stuff. Never did much by the way of upper body 1RM work.

Were you doing Stronglifts or Starting Strength?

You probably shouldn’t google ‘two hands anyhow’ or ‘bent press’, then. Somewhere Thomas Inch and Arthur Saxon are rolling over in their graves. :wink: And definitely, definitely, do not attempt an Steinborn Squat.

But, seriously, I don’t think you’re missing out too much if you elect just to do vanilla overhead squats. I think it’s smart to minimize risk of injury.

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right that is exactly what I mean. That’s craziness to even try and pick that up.

okay I am sold on perfecting both one arm, kettle ball, and Olympic bar overhead squats. Just about getting the form right to protect the back and I think all of us agree to go realistic weights for us skinny endurance athletes.

There are some good videos out there, but let’ go Chad - let’s get the TR version of you showing it off. This one looks reasonable for now for all of them:

Thanks all