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Overhead Squat Assessment and Test
WHAT IT IS AND WHY USE IT
The overhead squat test is a challenge test.
Assessing dysfunctions, stability and even flexibility in static positions won’t always reveal useful or meaningful information about the client. It’s when we put the client under load or a challenge that we are able to easily assess and pinpoint dysfunctions and weaknesses.
It’s load and/or movement that highlight the weakest link in the chain. They can also be thought of as assessments of ‘breakdown’.
The overhead squat test is not performed with load. It’s performed with a wooden stick or dowel rod.
The first instruction is to hold the stick using a biacromial grip. Then reach up above, having the clients’ arms extended overhead. A biacromial grip is important as it highlights weaknesses and makes it easier to assess the client.
Now the client is to perform a full range squat, the ultimate aim is for the hamstrings to cover the calves while the stick stays behind or in line with the ears. Head should be neutral throughout the movement.
WHAT IT TELLS YOU:
Things an overhead squat can indicate about a client:
• Tight hip flexors
• Tight hamstrings
• Tight lats
• Weak upper back
• Tight pecs
• Weak core
• General tightness under load
• General weakness under load
As the whole body has to work in unison to maintain this position, you very quickly see the clients weakest link and dysfunctions from the ideal athletic model. And the ideal athletic model is something we should all be striving towards for longevity and healthy joints.
Emphasis should also be given on what breaks down first. This tells you what the biggest issues are. The overhead squat test is predicated on the idea that the person you’re screening wants to move well and in unison. If the client’s sport or goal outcome is static stretching or moving one joint at a time, this test doesn’t bare as much relevance. However, for most people who want to look good and perform, this is an extremely important test that will mark likely injuries and weaknesses preventing clients from being better and stronger.
THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
Before the client even begins to move, the trainer should assess the arm position of the client. Is the bicep covering the ear? If not, we already have problems. The upper body should be the first thing we observe.
When the client begins to move, the trainer should be quick to assess what is the first thing that breaks down in the movement. Further testing can be done to distinguish if it’s tight or weak, or weak and tight.
As the client moves you want to assess:
• If the client is pulled forward?
• Does their stomach begin to meet their quads?
• Does their bum tuck under at the bottom?
• Depth of movement
• The range of movement from their knee. Does their knee move over their toe? You can measure this with fingers.
• Can they stay erect and upright?
• Do their arms move forward?
IF “THIS” DO “THAT”
• If Lats are tight:
Get the client to hang from a chin up, building up to 3 sets of 60 seconds before each workout. Possible starting point is 3 sets of 15 seconds depending on the client.
Use the timed hang as a weighted stretch. If the client is unable to support body weight, regress them to supporting themselves with their feet gentle resting on the floor until they can support themselves.
• If they are restricted in the lower limbs:
1. Train and stretch calfs. Both seated and standing. Implement a 2121 tempo, ensuring an adequate stretch in the bottom position as they move.
2. Use spilt squats. Depending on strength and ability, front foot elevated is the most common starting point. If they move forward in the test, use dumbbells to prevent incorrect loading on the lower back.
3. Give mobility sequences to perform daily.
• If weak upper back
I almost always find the client does not know how to retract and depress their scuapula. They are either trained and rely on latissimus dorsi for all rowing movements, or untrained and traps are overly used.
In which case, Y Raises are your best friend. MUST be performed correctly. These either feel like your upper back is going to cramp or you’re doing them wrong.
Additionally, cable seated row, unilateral handles with a 4030 tempo.
• If can’t achieve the bicep being inline with the ears,
This could be because the pecs are too tight and developed in comparison to the upper back. To alleviate this issue, a 2-fold strategy must be implemented:
1. Stretch, and improve range of motion in the pectoralis major and minor
2. Strengthen and develop the upper back, particularly by retracting and setting down and in the scapula.
Next week we delve into the Klatt Test. Speak then!