The dumbbell overhead squats are undefeated in demanding and developing midline control, stability, balance, functional flexibility and, general squat posture and movement.
Furthermore, it trains for efficient transfer of energy from large body parts to small body parts.
Squatting while holding a dumbbell overhead is not as easy as it seems. It is tougher than when you use a barbell.
This is because it is harder to balance a dumbbell than a barbell meaning there is greater core activation. Thus, more demand on postural control, flexibility and positional accuracy that it acts as the utmost test of your mobility and stability.
It is for this reason that you should use only light to moderately heavy dumbbells. Besides, with dumbbell overhead squats, generation of better muscle growth is dependent on high reps.
Dumbbell overhead squats require perfect thoracic spine mobility, shoulder overhead mobility and stability and, squat mobility and stability.
In case of weak core, inflexible hips, stiff shoulders, tight chest or anything else, this exercise will quickly expose it so that you can work on improving them.
Dumbbell overhead squats can be used as part of any strength training program especially for legs, hips and core.
HOW TO DO DUMBBELL OVERHEAD SQUATS
Here’s a step-by-step procedure of how to do the dumbbell overhead squats;
- Stand on your feet with your shoulder width apart. Your toes should be slightly pointed outwards and core tight.
- Hold a pair of light or moderately heavy dumbbell using your right hand and extend it straight above your head. To maintain stability of the dumbbell throughout the movement, engage your shoulder and arm.
- Inhale as you lower yourself slowly into a deep squat. Bend your hips back and down then flex your knees. Ensure your hips are lower than your knees. Use your left hand for balance.
- Whilst maintaining the dumbbell over your head, exhale and squat up by pushing your feet through the ground. Your wrists, shoulders, hips and heels should maintain alignment and, your core remain tight throughout.
- When you return to the starting position, stabilize your body then repeat the movement until you reach your targeted number of reps.
- Then repeat with your left hand holding the dumbbell.
WHAT MUSCLES DO DUMBBELL OVERHEAD SQUATS WORK?
The dumbbell overhead squats target muscles throughout the entire body.
The lower body is engaged during the squat. This results in the glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings being worked.
The shoulders and arms are also engaged as they provide support to the unbalanced dumbbell overhead. Additionally, the shoulders, arms, and back are engaged differently via stabilization to the normal push and pull work out routines. This is important to include in work outs as the strength required relates well to daily activities.
The core and back are also engaged for stability. This is because raising a dumbbell above your head results in your center of gravity being higher thus less balance. The core and back then come in to prevent you from falling over.
DUMBBELL OVERHEAD SQUATS BENEFITS
Your shoulder is tasked with keeping your arm, which is holding a weighted dumbbell, upright during the whole movement. This develops your shoulder strength as these muscles are forced to adapt to the load put on them.
SHOULDER MOBILITY AND STABILITY
Dumbbell overhead squats also improve your shoulder mobility and stability.
This is because a dumbbell is naturally less stable to hold than a barbell and therefore, stability of the shoulder is tested and improved.
Also, when you hold your arm upright as you squat, your range of mobility is tested. This helps to identify any limitations in your shoulder movement and any issue arising out of it.
ENGAGES YOUR LATS AND BACK
As talked about above, your lats and back provide stability during performance of the dumbbell overhead squats. Again, the type of strength required here is different from the normal push and pull work outs. Normally, the lats work through varied pulling exercises but here they work through a holding exercise requiring them to adapt to the load.
ENGAGES THE CORE
A strong core is needed to help provide stability of your torso during the movement therefore, it is engaged.
With the weighted dumbbell above your head, the center of gravity tends to be higher thus the core needs to work harder to provide the needed balance.
Struggling to maintain balance means that your core may be weak.
ADDS RESISTANCE FOR QUADS, GLUTES, HAMSTRINGS AND CALVES
The dumbbell overhead squats, like any other squats, strengthen and tone your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
ANKLE AND HIP RANGE OF MOTION
As earlier discussed, the dumbbell overhead squats help reveal weak or stiff ankles and hips. Such issues may have direct effect on many other movements. For example, tight hips can lead to lower back pain.
Understanding that limited ankle and hip range of motion may cause some injuries means you can prevent this by doing more stretches and movements to loosen them up.
DUMBBELL OVERHEAD SQUATS VARIATIONS
USE BOTH ARMS
As a beginner, doing dumbbell overhead squats singlehandedly is convenient as you can use the other hand for balance. However, to add difficulty, you can use both hands to perform the movement. As a precaution, go slow and steady and use slightly lighter dumbbells because of the difficulty.
As with any other squatting movement, adopting a wide squat engages your glutes more and requires better ankle and hip range of motion.
Using a barbell instead of a dumbbell is a common variation if your main focus is on power and strength instead of mobility and functional movement.
There is no much difference between using a dumbbell and a kettlebell when performing this movement. Only that a dumbbell is much more comfortable to hold until a certain weight then a kettlebell becomes more suitable.
DUMBBELL OVERHEAD SQUATS MISTAKES TO AVOID
ARCHING YOUR BACK/STICKING YOUR BACK OUT
As you do the squat, focus on an upright torso and dropping your butt straight down.
LEANING TOO FAR FORWARD
Lacking ankle mobility may lead you to lean your torso too forward in a bid to achieve squat depth. You should try to keep your chest as upright as possible.
Undoubtedly, this exercise is amazing in improving attributes like strength, range of motion, stability, flexibility and balance.
As a caution, use light to moderately heavy dumbbells. Doing the exercise to completion indicates high level of upper and lower body functional movement.