Professor OHS: Losing and Learning

For some of you, this will be the second time this week that we’ve talked about progressing the squat to a place that exposes disfunction that often goes unnoticed. Today we’ll look at the overhead squat. Simply put, it will expose disfunction.

I’d like you to treat today as a special day. Today is a special day because similar to pistol day, many of us will face some frustrating limitations in the overhead squat. As you know by now, the squat is such a comprehensive foundational movement. Often times, however, the air squat or the back squat or even the front squat can be performed without any real recognition of hidden disfunction or limitations. Every day there are men and women all around the world successfully air squatting, back squatting, and front squatting with serious limitations. Most of these folks, however, will fail with the pistol and the overhead squat, which, in my opinion, is a critical motivator.

It’s only human nature to want to win. In that way, if a man with poor hip function makes an attempt at an air squat we may see some movement patterns that illustrate that, but chances are he will be able to perform the rep. In the same way, a woman with a locked up mid back will often be able to perform a back squat and be successful. You can coach these two to change their movement but as long as they are successful, the motivation to adjust is relatively low.

Now, put these two athletes in a scenario where they need to overhead squat or perform a pistol, however, and they will likely fail. All of a sudden, they’re twice as interested in making some changes. No one likes failure, right?

Today is an opportunity to put a magnifying glass on your movement. If you feel as though you can squat with no problem but the overhead squat gives you trouble today, take note. These limiting factors in the overhead squat are limiting you else where, too. Sometimes, however, it takes the harsh reality of true failure to invest in tackling a solution.

Senior year of college I finally felt like I was acquiring some strength and doing some things in the weight room. A year later, I tried to overhead squat an empty forty-five pound barbell and fell over; the bar crashing to the ground.

“Wake up, Gelbrich! Your movement sucks.”

If I never had that experience, I would have thought I was strong and I didn’t have anything to work on with my squat. Boy, did I learn fast!

The ball is in your court. Overhead squat, take inventory, and get to improving. Your squat (all styles of them) will thank you.


Logan Gelbrich




7/9/14 WOD

Find 1RM Overhead Squat

Burpee Box Jump Overs
Deadlifts (215/155)