How to Do an Overhead Squat with Dumbbell

The overhead squat is an upgraded version of the traditional squat exercise—although there are similarities between the two exercises, they are very different animals, says John Romaniello, Personal Trainer here.

Both exercises work numerous muscle groups and help develop your core strength.

Basic bodyweight squats

Though the basic squats primarily work the hips, glutes, quads and hamstrings—the overhead squats work much more.

Not only they work all of those muscle groups, but also work and deeply engage the abs, back, and shoulder muscles.

Considering these muscles are often the ones that are weak and need help strengthening, every opportunity to work them is a valuable one.

The overhead squat is certainly qualified as a full-body exercise that covers most muscles in your body, including the upper and lower body parts. 

This is also an excellent and effective move just for your upper body alone.

In fact, it’s one of few total-body workout that address the upper-body in a way if you were training it separately and independently.

But these are not the only benefits this squat variation offers. There are more. 

Additional benefits of the overhead squats includes:

  • Mobility: Improves upper-body mobility (upper-back and shoulders)
  • Stability: Core strength (being able to maintain a tight core through a squat full-range of motion, while also keep your arms straight directly your overhead—until your thighs are parallel or near to the floor)
  • Strength: You’ll develop strength and tones your entire body ( legs, glutes, back, abs, shoulders, and arms)

How to do an overhead squat

Dumbbell overhead squats
  1. Grab and hold a pair of dumbbells in each hand, directly over your head with arms completely straight.
  2. Contract your abs, hinge your hips back, bend at the knees to lower your body until your upper thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position. 

Why do overhead squats?

  • Strengthen & tones the legs, butt.
  • Improves mobility, balance, core strength
  • Train the whole body including the abs, back & shoulders

Exercise Table

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There you have it! Overhead squats are incredibly effective and offer numerous health benefits to your body.

What did you think? Have you tried squatting with arms straight above your head?

Misato Alexandre


After making healthy living a priority, Misato lost over 20 lbs in less than 90 days. Instead of weight loss being a dreading experience, living the lifestyle of health and fitness granted her more happiness and joy than ever before. She co-founded Fitwirr to make health and fitness simple for everyone and share her tips through writing evidence-based articles on nutrition, weight loss, and exercise.

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