by Coach Cez

For most beginning BRICK athletes, the overhead squat was the first (of many) humbling CrossFit experiences. It forced us to check our egos at the door, and strip the bar empty, or even use a PVC pipe. This one movement slapped us in the face with a laundry list of deficiencies we needed to work on.

Eventually, with hard work and advice from our amazing coaches, we are able to achieve an acceptable OHS position. We’re then able to increase the weight and start putting up “big” numbers. The CrossFit gods have blessed us and all is right in the world (until we attempt our first Muscle up, Double Under, etc). Right?

Enter the Single Arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat (SA DB OHS). If the barbell overhead squat is a slap in the face, then the Single Arm DB version is an extreme kick in the behind. It’s probably the most humbling of all movements because it serves as an extreme test of our mobility and stability. In order to achieve proper position at full range of motion we must have near perfect:

  • Thoracic Spine Mobility (rotation and extension)
  • Shoulder Overhead Mobility & Stability (shoulder flexion and external rotation)
  • Squat Mobility & Stability (hip flexion, hip external AND internal rotation, ankle dorsiflexion)

If even one of these components are lacking, they will quickly be exposed by the SA DB OHS.

Use this movement as a tool to diagnose where you are at (and not at) as an athlete. This allows us to assess and attack our weaknesses and become better movers.  Remember, be safe (this is an advanced movement), keep the weight light, and your egos checked.

Single Arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat

Points Of Performance:

  • Stand on feet with shoulder-width apart
  • Shoulder pushes up into the dumbbell
  • Armpit of overhead arm faces forward
  • Hips descend back and down, lower than the knees
  • Lumbar curve maintained
  • Knees in line with toes
  • Heels down
  • Dumbbell stays over the middle of both feet
  • Complete the movement at full hip and knee extension