I have heard many different arguments against the usefulness and utility of the overhead squat as of late. Many coaches and lifters have stated that doing overhead squats exclusively, tends to be a waste of energy and a waste of time. Their argument rides upon the idea that the overhead squat is seen primarily as a strength building exercise for the legs. If a coach programs and utilizes the overhead squat for that purpose then I’m going to agree with the naysayers. However, it is my belief that the overhead squat is best utilized outside the realms of strength gains in the legs and is supremely beneficial in other ways.
I believe in utilizing the overhead squat for purposes such as mobility, overhead stability, and overall comfortability in the bottom of the squat. More specifically, utilizing the overhead squat in conjunction with full movements or other strength movements tend to allow for the greatest benefit of this exercise.
Exercises such as snatch push press followed by overhead squats or power snatches followed overhead squats allow for great benefit.
I do not necessarily program overhead squats as a solo exercise as I believe they’re best utilized inside the realm of complexes or other movements. However, they do have benefit and to state out right that programming an overhead squat is a waste of time would be to ignore those benefits. Many lifters struggle with stability and comfort while in the bottom of the squat and we all know lifters who struggle with shoulder girdle mobility and thoracic mobility. The overhead squat is a good solution for all of these problems. Just because it is likely impossible to put enough load on the overhead squat to really allow for strength gain in the legs does not mean that the movement as a whole is non-beneficial. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and in doing so miss out on a great exercise. Anyone who is good at the overhead squat will have one less chink in their armor and thus be a better lifter.