Have you ever wanted to do something great! You know, you watch someone on TV doing some remarkable sports feat and you hope or dream that you would one day be able to do that!
We all have. One of my hero’s and favourite athletes is Barry Sanders, in my world (well, my old world, as I don’t do as much high performance training anymore), I marvel at his talents, how his legs position when he plants and cuts and how he rotates to spin off opponents. It’s a thing of beauty!
And I used to emulate him when I would play. It wasn’t until I was older that I actually pieced together how he moves and how to train to move like that, but not quite though, as there was only one Barry Sanders,
So How Do You Piece Together A Movement Or A Lift?
When you learn how to perform a squat you are either just doing it on your own or getting guidance from someone who is not the best to be getting advice from.
Today, we’re going to look at a huge problem in the world of Olympic Squats, specifically the overhead squat (which is the position of the catch/receive phase of the snatch).
Go to any gym, and you’ll often hear these words uttered, by those who just lift and sometimes, even by coaches! And if you do, thank he or she gracefully and move on, as this will be a huge indicator of an instructor that may not be fully suited to coach the overhead squat and an Olympic Lift.
The words are “Bring your shoulders to your ears”. Yikes! But why?
Well, as the world of fitness (not performance which is where you should learn from) becomes more saturated, your risk of ruining your body is exponentially growing.
Now let’s think about that phrase for a moment, even with all the biomechanics aside, think of the logic!
Say you have a barbell over your head and someone says to you “Hey man, bring your shoulders towards your ears”. What happens to the bar?
It moves up? Yes, it moves even further up! Does that sound like it would be an ideal move when trying to snatch a lot of weight over your head?
All you did was just increase the distance the bar has to travel, and that’s the last thing you want to do.
And in the process, you moved the ball (head of the humerus bone) further outside of the socket, where it is quite vulnerable.
This is one of many reasons why people who do try to do overhead squats (and Olympic lifting) properly, damage their shoulders.
What The World’s Best Do, That You Should Do As Well
To learn how to do an Olympic lift properly you require timing and you also need to learn how to shrug. Not just any shrug, but the shrug at the exact angle to help you maximize power and explosiveness.
And before you do that, you should learn how to shrug downwards. Yep, downwards! It’s called “depression”, scapular depression to be exact and it is how you receive/catch the bar when it is overhead.
Try this exercise to help you understand this key piece of Olympic lifting and overhead squats.
Stand up with an Olympic barbell and press it over your head. If you are unable to use that weight, get something smaller, yet not too short.
Now, adopt your squat stance and perform a proper Olympic squat. See how the barbell feels, how your shoulder joint feels and how stable it all feels.
Okay. Once you’ve done 1, try the same thing. Perform an Olympic squat with the barbell overhead, however prior to you squatting, drop your shoulder blades down towards your bum.
Don’t crank them down or contract violently, just bring them down and snug them up.
Now how does it feel. If all was done correctly, you should have felt a huge shift in stability.
More importantly, imagine if that was 200 pounds and you used the “shoulders to ears” method! How would your shoulder feel then?
Who To Go To For Any Future Training Tips?
I know it’s hard out there as everyone under the sun claims to be an expert. Just keep training hard, and be sure to use common sense even and an open mind when receiving advice.