The Safest and Smartest Progression for Building Your Overhead Lifts

Jeff Kuhland

The press, push press, push jerk, snatch, and overhead squat all require a specific level of shoulder mobility before you should perform them under any significant load. If these movements are performed with an improper range of motion, then they can cause significant damage to your shoulder while simultaneously setting your back and hips up for disaster, too. Overhead lifts are perhaps the most difficult lifting movements due to the range of motion demand from the entire body, not just the shoulder joint, along with the necessary ability to stabilize that load.

overhead position, overhead lifts, posture for overhead lifts, overhead squatThe overhead lift setup requires the ability to stand in good posture with correct lumbar and thoracic curves. You need full overhead extension of the shoulder, keeping the rib cage tucked, the neck in a neutral position, and elbows locked out. Once this position can be properly maintained, you can add load by starting with the overhead press. After the overhead press is mastered, you can add load and speed with the push press. After the push press is a smooth and coordinated movement, you can progress into the push jerk. When the push jerk becomes a natural movement, then learning the overhead squat is next. Clean and jerks can also be implemented during this time for power development.

People often a rush to perform overhead squats, but the development of strength and coordination first is critical, along with having a competent front squat. Only once these prerequisites are met should you begin to overhead squat. And the overhead squat to full depth should be mastered before any full snatches are done. You can begin to power snatch or snatch balance to learn the coordination, but wait until the overhead squat becomes a natural movement before starting full range of motion snatches.

In short the progression for the overhead lifts is this:

Strict Press
Push Press
Push Jerk
Clean and Jerk
Overhead Squat
Power Snatch
Snatch Balance
Full Snatch

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2 thoughts on “The Safest and Smartest Progression for Building Your Overhead Lifts

  1. […] The Safest and Smartest Progression for Building Your Overhead Lifts […]

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