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Coaches Prep Course: The Overhead Position by Austin Begiebing, Adrian Bozman and E.C. Synkowski - CrossFit Journal

Coaches Prep Course: The Overhead Position

By Austin Begiebing, Adrian Bozman and E.C. Synkowski

In Coaching, Reference, Videos

June 07, 2010

Video Article

A good overhead position is important to many of the CrossFit movements, and getting weight overhead the right way will ensure both optimal performance and safety.

At a Coaches Prep Seminar at CrossFit Santa Cruz, HQ trainers Austin Begiebing, Adrian (Boz) Bozman and E.C. Synkowski break down the overhead position, emphasizing scapular retraction and elevation. By putting the scapulae is this position, athletes create stability and lessen the chances of impingement.

While most of the movement in a press takes place from the shoulders up, a solid foundation is extremely important. After a movement analysis, the trainers identify loose abdominals in several participants and suggest form corrections that will stack all the skeleton’s bones to support a barbell overhead.

The Coaches Prep Seminar builds upon the Level 1 Certification and is designed for coaches looking to take their training to the next level. To register for the course, visit

15min 52sec

Additional reading: Overhead Is Rising by Bill Starr, published Nov. 7, 2008.

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14 Comments on “Coaches Prep Course: The Overhead Position”


Bryan de la Puente wrote …

There's no audio!!!!


wrote …

Great video and instruction. The one point that needs to be addressed in more depth is thoracic spine extension. As the humerus begins to pass the 100-110 degrees of abduction the scapula must rock back to allow for clearance of the acromion. The scapula is able to move via thoracic extension. When the t-spine is fixated or not moving properly, generally speaking, no amount of muscle stretching is going to correct this problem. As pointed out in the video, this is when the body compensates with artificial extension in the lumbar spine, causing a great deal of low back instability and increased risk of injury. It should be noted that compensation can also occur in the movable joints of the t-spine (making them hypermobile and less stable) and shoulder cuff, both of which will lead to problems down the road.

Many times, the "tight shoulder" referred to is a result of improper mechanics (i.e. no t-spine extension or unstable rotator cuff). Chiropractors are experts in this field and can offer a tremendous amount of benefit by restoring proper ROM. Some physical therapists are also specially trained to manipulate joints. Look to one of these experts if you are not seeing the results you want.


wrote …

I have two clients who have tight shoulders, but one with a serious "bowing" of his lower back. I try to get the rib cage down but the real problem lies in those super glued shoulders.

Suggestions on fixing his form or unlocking the shoulders?


These videos are a tremendous service to us.


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Great coaching (once again) thanks!


Monique Ames wrote …


Generally tight shoulders will come with a rounded T-spine.

Here's the things you can do (from easy to more complex):
1. Foam Roll - mid back, chest & bicep.
2. Trigger with a lacrosse ball - watch Kelly's videos on upper body maintenance.. Add a myofascial stretch after each trigger point.
3. Stretch on a regular basis.
4. Visit a trigger point or ART specialist.

Hope that helps. If you want - just email me at Leo at & we'll chat.

Leo S


wrote …

Brilliant video and coaching cues!


wrote …

It's nice to see this finally addressed. In so many CF vids and even instructional vids you see this sacrifice in midline stability in order to get head through the window. Seen very often in thrusters when pushing head through at the top. I'm suprised no one ever mentions the glutes role in a tight stable midline. Awsome video though and a very common problem among clients.


wrote …

Good comment on T-spine extension by Jason, which is essential for the posterior tilt of the scapula for clearance of the greater tuberosity and cuff muscles (supraspinatus).
Two things I noticed. Adrian talked about scapular retraction and elevation. He obviously knows what he is doing, but I felt it necessary to state that you want to see scapular protraction, upward rotation, and posterior tilt that is only controlled/stabilized (eccentric contraction) by the muscles that retract, downward rotate, and anteriorly tilt the scapula. I know it is nit-picky, but I see a lot of overhead moves and also push-ups (when fatigue sets in) with large amounts of retraction, elevation, and anterior tilt of the shoulder complex that kill cuffs, necks, and backs. Coach Glassman talks about "technique" being the key component in connecting strength and athleticism; therefore it is important to make these distinctions to help people train safely and effectively.
The other thing is a lack in addressing the lats/subscapularis (internal rotators of shoulder) as well as the pecs (specifically minor; anterior tilt of scapula). Providing length in these muscles will help put the shoulder in a closed packed position with balanced force couples in overhead movements, as well as any upper extremity work, which will keep cfer's safe/strong/athletic in wod's and in adl's.

Great video and great comments.


wrote …

Best pressing video yet, synergy of coaches makes it very comprehensible. Great camera positions.


replied to comment from Monique Ames

Thank you for your help.
I will try those recomendations.


wrote …

great video, thank you!


replied to comment from Jared Van Anne


Could you clarify some of the anatomical lingo? I'm having kind of hard time visualizing exactly you are specifying in the good and bad cases.

FWIW, I thought this would be a relevant link:

The Iron Maven (Tracy Fober) presents the correct and incorrect shoulder position for the snatch.


wrote …

The take home from this series in my mind is K STAR IS NOT JOKING. Flexability really is just as legit a physical capacity as power strength and speed.


wrote …

Never forget that clients respond to simple cues. The big words are really cool for a round table discussion with other trainers that speak the language of 7-syllable anatomical positions or perhaps a quick game of scrabble with some one that just graduated with an A&P degree. The other 98% of the people you will be training in human movement will become more confused and move worse with such technical terms.

Don't take what I'm saying as meaning the 10lbs-brain words are devoid of value. All I'm saying is take that "knowledge" and make sure you find a way to say it super you were running a CF Kids class. Then you will have some useful cues. People may get into huge discussions as to why just saying "elevate the shoulders" or "push the bar up" is not a perfectly complete cue, but it will get the job done the overwhelming majority of the time, and everyone understands it.

Just my opinion. you can unleash the hounds on me.


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