Overhead Isometric Work for Form and Posture

Overhead Split Squats, Reverse Lunges and a whole lot more.

Overhead Split Squat
Overhead Split Squat
Some of the athletes I work with are fairly new to organized training. Many of them come in with bad or no habits. One of the primary issues they have is body positioning during leg training. The kids love to lean forward at the bottom and/or jerk back out of the motion at the top (lunges, reverse lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian split squats, squats, etc). I can't blame them, they aren't used to fighting pressure when they first start lifting. Their bodies naturally take the path of least resistance (or what they mentally perceive as the least resistance).

Over the last few months, I have been incorporating overhead holds while performing these lifts. By holding the weight overhead, as opposed to at the sides or on the back, the lifting posture drastically improves out of necessity. In other words, if you lean forward or swing back while holding something overhead, you will drop it. That's what we call "self-correcting!" Of course you should spot the lifter to protect them from dropping it straight down, even though the imbalance usually causes them to dump it forward (although I've never had the weight come straight down, better safe than sorry!)

The easiest and safest object to hold overhead is a light sandbag. Just in case the athlete drops the bag, it is soft enough and light enough that it does not present a large safety concern. A medicine ball also works well for the aforementioned reasons.

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Next hardest is the barbell. If the lifter uses a military press or snatch grip, the weight will need to be kept over the center point of the body. Again, if the athlete tips off center, the weight will become difficult to hold and off balanced.

My personal favorite to use is a water filled or chain wrapped keg. The water presents a serious challenge to balance, but should not be attempted by first timers. Get your stability up before trying this variation! Chain wrapping an empty keg is also an easy way add weight. The keg is also good for forearm strength since it is larger and needs to be gripped tightly.

A couple of examples

Split Squat Set-up
Split Squat Set-up
Split Squat Execution
Split Squat Execution
Front Lunge Set-up
Front Lunge Set-up
Front Lunge Execution
Front Lunge Execution

Mix these variations in to work on posture and form. My athletes like the challenge, and enjoy the burn! Use some days loaded heavy with the standard methods, and then use the overhead variation to work on form. Good luck and enjoy!
Joe Hashey

Joe Hashey is a CSCS through the NSCA, owner of Synergy Athletics and author of the superb Bull Strength manual. Take advantage of the Synergy Athletics Free Newsletter by signing up at the website. All subscribers get instructions on how make a 3 inch independently revolving thick bar, a free athlete training report, and an insight into Bull Strength!

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