WOD Featuring The Overhead Deadlift: Controversial

To tell you the truth, I expected no less. I posted, and it stirred the pot. A while ago I started doing overhead squat deadlifts, and they’re awesome, today I wanted to share it with the CrossFit community, and it received a whole lot of funny meme’s (always enjoy a good meme battle), but also comments like:

“Okay dave castro..”


“Here we go. Making up exercises again”

Absolutely! Someone made up the ones you’re doing now. Someone has to do it.

“Why would anyone want to do that, oh god”

This one went on about it being dangerous, I quickly shut it down with progression, and comparing it to kipping without progression. The cool thing is, I don’t mind these comments, especially the ones that question the exercise. Because there has to be a reason to do something, luckily I know why you’d want to do this.

With the kettlebell overhead squat deadlift one side works to keep something overhead, while the other works to lift something. Both sides of the back are doing something completely different (opposites). On one side you need to pull the scapula down, the other up, one side works more the lat, the other the upper trapezius. Extreme tension required during the complete movement. So much going on in one move, certainly not a beginners move, or for those with bad mobility. Triceps, traps, lats, erector spinea, glutes, quads, abdominals, could go in, in effect an extreme full-body exercise. When has a full-body exercise with unilateral qualities not been good? An exercise that challenges every fiber in you…

Is it functional? Would you ever be in a position like this outside of the gym? Maybe if you’re pulling a drowning cat out of the river while keeping your baby high and dry! But who cares, enough with all the functional stuff, not everything needs to translate to functional, some things are just fun, difficult, working on strength, on flexibility, mobility etc.

This movement requires extreme finesse, now, don’t tell me that CrossFit does not do kettlebell exercises that require finesse, otherwise the TGU would not be done! When the TGU come out, people were probably thinking the same thing when they saw “OVERHEAD SQUAT DEADLIFT” and laughed. But 3 years from now they all might be doing this exercise when Dave Castro tells them so (if they compete).

Why so specific with the naming, it looks silly! It might look silly, but I tend to err on the side of caution, just in case someone would try to do this hip hinge style! It ain’t going to happen, this is a deadlift (lifting a dead non-moving object) while keeping another overhead, it can only be done squat style.

Enough on the exercise, let’s focus on the workout. The WOD is one task for time:

  • Buy in
    100 single arm swings
  • 20 rounds of
    • 3 overhead squat deadlifts
    • 4 racked reverse lunges
    • 5 half snatches
  • Cash out
    50 strict presses

Rx is 40kg/88lbs for male
Rx is 30kg/66lbs for female

This is the sum of the total weight to be used, it be can be made out of any combination of weights, i.e. 22 + 18, 20 + 20, 16 + 24 etc.

The rules are, weight on the ground is used for: swings, deadlift, and strict press. The other weight is used for overhead, racked reverse lunge, and strict press.


If you’re looking for a little finisher, to make things even so to say, we did 100 bent over dead rows, no scoring, just because we want to make those shoulders even, and work the rear delts. Check out the video towards the end for instructions on these.

Movement standards:

  • Swings
    • Chest height
    • Base of the bell visible behind the leg upon each rep
  • Overhead squat deadlift
    • Weight dead on the ground upon each rep
    • Overhead weight remains up and elbow locked out
  • Racked reverse lunges
    • Weight remains racked in-front
    • Knee gently touching
    • Front foot remains flat on the ground
  • Half snatch
    • Full lock-out overhead
    • One explosive movement going up
  • Strict press
    • No momentum
    • Full lockout overhead
    • Back into full racking position upon each rep

Completed the workout? No matter what time, or weight used, post your completion on our Facebook here.



Leave a Comment

Shopping Basket