Take three attempts to perform 15 bodyweight overhead squats.
I remember the day clearly. I was standing in a local gym in Boulder, with one of those padded straight weighted bars over my head (you know, the ones that are labeled with colorful numbers from 10lbs through 70lbs) trying to overhead squat. The width of the bar was a little short but I’ll be damned if I could squat with the 20-lb bar. My personal trainer at the time, Ryan Landis, looked at me with a small smirk on his face as I attempted this seemingly “simple” move with frustration and overall complete amazement at my inability. For anyone who has ever learned to overhead squat, this story is probably somewhat familiar.
In the same way CrossFit has developed basic standards of achievement in the press, deadlift, and squat – via the CrossFit Total – the overhead squat also has it’s own standard within the community.
Since around 2006, the gold standard of achievement in the overhead squat has been for an individual to perform 15 bodyweight overhead squats. And now with the rise of CrossFit and development of athletes beyond what was ever thought possible, the standard was recently updated to 1.25x bodyweight, but we’ll save that for 2017!
To quote the Overhead Squat article in the 2005 CrossFit Journal:
The overhead squat is the ultimate core exercise, the heart of the snatch, and peerless in developing effective athletic movement. This functional gem trains for efficient transfer of energy from large to small body parts – the essence of sport movement. For this reason it is an indispensable tool for developing speed and power. The overhead squat also demands and develops functional flexibility, and similarly develops the squat by amplifying and cruelly punishing faults in squat posture, movement, and stability.
The overhead squat is to midline control, stability, and balance what the clean and snatch are to power – unsurpassed.