The Only 3 Overhead Squat Mobility Drills You Need (According to a Weightlifting Olympian)

The overhead squat is a litmus test; if you can’t do one, you’re probably not as flexible as you think. It takes a truly extraordinary amount of mobility in your hips, ankles, shoulders, wrists, spine…well, everywhere, to squat down with a weight held overhead.

Yet professional Olympic lifters (and Olympians, in Sonny Webster’s case) drop into deep overhead squats all day and night without a care in the world. On Jun. 27, 2024, Webster revealed his top three drills for overhead squat mobility.

[Related: Best Weightlifting Shoes for Overhead Squats]

Let’s break down how to do each drill so your overhead squat can finally go from out of control to locked in.

3 Best Overhead Squat Mobility Drills

Webster, a retired professional Olympic weightlifter who competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, identified three specific areas that commonly inhibit overhead squat mobility:



Thoracic Spine

Here’s how Webster, a multi-European and Commonwealth Championships medalist, limbers up for the overhead squat.

1. Wall Pigeon Stretch

“Before you snatch, you need to open up those hips,” Webster said while preparing for his first drill of the trio. The wall pigeon stretch, similar to the floor-based yoga pose, kills two birds with one stone: You’ll activate one glute while stretching the other, then alternate.

How To Do It:

Lie on your back on the floor about a foot away from a wall with your feet on the wall and knees bent.

Cross one leg over the other, resting that ankle across the kneecap of the wall-mounted leg.

With your hands, gently push the inside of the crossed knee toward the wall until you feel a deep stretch.

Push firmly against the wall with the other leg to activate your glute and abdominal muscles on that side.

From the Expert: “Make sure you drop the wall-side hip down to the floor,” Webster advised.

[Related: Best Bodyweight Exercises]

2. Barbell Groin Stretch

Grab a barbell for this one,” Webster recommended. This stretch targets the large, powerful hip adductor muscles, including and especially the adductor magnus, which pulls your leg inward toward your midline — the opposite of what you need to do during an overhead squat.

How To Do It:

Sit on the ground with your legs extended and perpendicular to a barbell.

Open your legs and glide the inside edges of your feet along the shaft of the bar as far as you can.

Reach forward with your arms and grab the middle of the bar, pulling it toward you and driving your legs further apart.

Once you feel a pronounced stretch in your groin and the insides of your thighs, sit tall and hold that position.

From the Expert: “Make sure your knees stay extended and flat on the floor and your toes point up,” Webster noted.

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3. Barbell Thoracic Stretch & Press

“This one will help you open up that thoracic spine,” Webster said — he’s right, but the drill he demonstrated is quite aggressive and challenging. It’s technically a supine behind-the-neck press. It’ll work, but you might want to start out with a PVC pipe or dowel.

How To Do It:

Get an ab mat or lie on your back on a weight bench while holding a barbell at arm’s length with a wide grip.

Let the bar drift back behind your head until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Keep your elbows extended.

Bend your elbows and “pull” the bar horizontally back towards the base of your skull behind your head, then press it horizontally backward behind you.

From the Expert: “There’s no better way to familiarize yourself with the overhead position,” said Webster.

[Related: Best Wrist Wraps for Overhead Squats]

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Featured Image: Sonny Webster / YouTube

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