Earning the Right to train Overhead: Eric Cressey on the snatch


The following post comes from Eric Cressey. Eric is world renowned as the “shoulder guy”, and in this post he gives you an assessment tool to see if you are ready to train overhead. Never have I seen such a simple assessment and simple corrections if you are found to be lacking. If you want to press, snatch, or jerk you must keep reading. 

Training Overhead Eric CresseyIt goes without saying that the Olympic lifts are total game changers when it comes to athleticism. You won’t find a collection of exercises that improves power and athleticism in the sagittal plane nearly as well as the O-lifts do.

With that said, they are also some of the most technically advanced exercises you’ll ever perform in a strength training program. Unfortunately, not all bodies are prepared for what they may encounter with the Olympic lifts, so it’s important that we learn to pre-screen athletes to make sure that they’re physically able to get the positions the O-lifts require without compensation. This pre-screening is particularly important with respect to the snatch, jerk, and overhead press, as this video demonstrates:

Now, if you fail the back-to-wall shoulder flexion test miserably, don’t worry! Below, you’ll find five videos of exercises you’ll want to incorporate in your warm-ups daily to gradually build up your range-of-motion and overhead stability. Be sure to perform them in this order:

1. Supine Alternating Shoulder Flexion on Doubled Tennis Ball

Note: be sure to do all the rest of your foam rolling series, too.

2. Bench T-Spine Mobilizations

3. Dead Bugs

4. Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion

5. Wall Slides with Overhead Shrug

Give these five exercises some attention in each of your warm-ups for the next four weeks, and I guarantee that you’ll be singing a different tune when it comes to overhead movements. And, you’ll be on your way to pain-free, clean technique with the snatch, jerk, and overhead press.

Looking for more great self-assessment and mobility tips like these – as part of a comprehensive strength and conditioning program? Be sure to check out The High Performance Handbook, Eric’s new resource. It’s on sale at a great introductory price this week only.

Click here to check out the:

High Performance Handbook.

[Photo Cred at top: Hookgrip]

  • Emily Medina

    Helpful post, thank you. What are your thoughts/experiences on using behind the neck presses (specifically snatch grip) or other similar methods to force a greater ROM, in conjunction with the presented exercises? Do you prefer to remove pressing/jerking entirely for a period, or just deload the intensity? Would you wait till mobility is 100% before starting heavy pressing again?

    • Emily- I’ll see if I can get Eric to come over and chime in, but I really don’t like behind the neck presses. It seems to lock the scapula down pretty hard, and doesn’t allow for that smooth scapular motion we are looking for. Unless an athlete can pass these tests, we will eliminate overhead work and focus on pulling and the clean.

  • Emily Medina

    Thanks Wil