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November 13, 2012
Barbell Yoga

We often have athletes ask us about the merits of yoga. Today’s post is not intended to argue about yoga, that has already been addressed (see Sparta Point). Instead, today’s post will introduce you to a great movement we are doing at Sparta: the Clean Grip Overhead Squat. Or, as it has become affectionately known, “Barbell Yoga”.

Functional flexibility is best developed by training strength at extreme ranges of motion (see Sparta Point).

The flexibility we are talking about is not really about touching your toes, it is about being able to produce GRF for longer periods of DRIVE (see Sparta Point). This is the type of flexibility that results in deep flexion and extension during movement, increased power, and improved performance. In fact, extreme flexibility is dangerous unless you have the strength at those extreme ranges of motion to produce force and maintain good body positions.

We use a number of tools for improving mobility at Sparta, including myofascial release, trigger point therapy, distraction based joint mobilizations, and mobility warm-ups.  But, when it comes to improving an athletes DRIVE, the clean grip overhead squat is one of the best because it provides an awesome combination of strength and flexibility.

Coaching Keys

  • Good foot position (not too externally rotated)
  • Slow descent
  • Pause at the bottom and reinforce body position (knees out and chest up)
Progressing this movement is great because we can increase the load, increase the reps as well as decreasing the heel lift.  This gives us lots of options based on each athlete’s level and needs.  Start with an adequate heel lift and progress to higher loads and more reps until mobility improves enough to decrease the heel lift and build the loading again.  Post a picture to our facebook page if you can load half your bodyweight with bare feet and perfect body position.
November 13, 2012
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4 thoughts on “Barbell Yoga”

  1. How do you progress the load with this movement? Do you add 5 kilos to previous performance like you do with other lower body exercises?

    1. The load is slowly progressed with this exercise, but more importantly we progress the reps (total time under tension). For example, we might start with 20 kg for 5 sets of 6 reps (6 sec hold at the bottom of each rep). The next time we might progress to 5×8, and then 5×10 before finally adding weight and dropping back down to 5×6

    1. We use a lot of the principles that Kelly Starret talks about on

      You should find some great examples of distraction based mobilizations there.

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