Ground to Overhead Workouts for Skill, Power and Mental Strength

Ground to Overhead Workouts are an effective way to train for full body functional strength and conditioning. The movement is self-explanatory, involving the load being raised from the floor and hoisted overhead.

What Muscles are Worked by the Ground to Overhead Exercise?

The Ground to Overhead exercise works the legs, glutes, core, grip, arms, shoulders and back. It is also an effective power building exercise because a great deal of force is necessary to drive the weight from the floor to the fully extended overhead position.

Ground to Overhead Exercise Video

The technique will vary depending on the object that needs to be lifted. For example, lifting a stone, a D-Ball, a Dumbbell or a Barbell all require different approaches. The Ground to Overhead Workouts in this article offer many variations in order to keep your body guessing, your training varied and your workouts fun.

Strategy for the Ground to Overhead Exercise

A good basic strategy for Ground to Overhead movements in workouts is to power clean the barbell/object into the front rack position then press it overhead to complete the rep.

This is dependent on other factors such as the weight, object and type of workout, but as a rough rule it is a good place to start. This method will help you to generate force and move the weight effectively. For example, check out the advice from Invictus Fitness:

“Here is the great thing about receiving the barbell in a power clean position – you are already in the dip portion for your shoulder to overhead! That means that once the barbell touches the collarbone, it is an immediate drive with the legs to punch the barbell overhead. Utilising a push press or a push jerk is up to the athlete and the workout.”

How to do the Ground to Overhead Exercise

  1. Stand over the object with your feet slightly wider that shoulder width apart (see training tip below)
  2. Bend down and grip the object in the most effective way possible
  3. Inhale deeply and tense your core, grip and glutes. Establish a straight back and tight body
  4. Power the object upwards by pressing your feet hard into the ground and imagine yourself pushing the floor away from you
  5. Bring the object into an appropriate front rack position
  6. Use your momentum to push press or push jerk the object overhead with your arms fully extended.
  7. Lower the weight to the starting position and exhale
  8. Repeat

Ground to Overhead Training Tips

Try to adopt a wider stance with the initial power clean. This will allow you to move quicker than if you had to jump, land and catch in the front rack position (as with a normal clean). It also reduces the range of motion for the barbell/object which makes the overall Ground to Overhead exercise more efficient.

Ground to Overhead Workouts

The following Ground to Overhead Workouts add the movement into different training scenarios with a variety of objects. Each workout will test and improve your fitness, strength, power and conditioning in a certain way.

I have also included a section of Partner Ground to Overhead Workouts so that you can train with a friend as well.

WORKOUT 1

For Time

  • 100 Double Dumbbell Ground-to-Overhead (2×50/35 lb)
  • Wear a Weight Vest or Ruck (70/50 lb)

Athlete may either Power Snatch or Power Clean-and-Jerk the Dumbbells. Partition the work as needed.

Note that the prescribed weight of the Weight Vest or Ruck Pack for this workout is significantly heavier than a typical Weight Vest.

Scaling

Intermediate

  • 100 Double Dumbbell Ground-to-Overhead (2×35/25 lb)
  • Wear a weight vest (20/14 lb)

Beginner

  • 75 Double Dumbbell Ground-to-Overhead (25/15 lb)

WORKOUT 2

For Time

  • 100 D-Ball Over Shoulders (100/70 lb)

Time Cap: 15 minutes

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the 100 D-Ball over shoulders.

Score is the time on the clock when the last rep of d-ball over shoulders is completed.

Scaling

Simply use a lighter D-Ball.

Female athlete outside performing ground to overhead workout.
Build full body conditioning with the Ground to Overhead movement

WORKOUT 3

For Time

  • 1,000 metre Row
  • 10 Ground to overheads (135/95 lb)
  • 750 metre Row
  • 10 Ground to overheads (135/95 lb)
  • 500 metre Row
  • 10 Ground to overheads (135/95 lb)
  • 250 metre Row
  • 10 Ground to overheads (135/95 lb)

Scaling

One easy and effective way to scale this Ground to Overhead Workout is to perform it with a partner. One person rests while the other works.

For Time (with a Partner)

  • 2,000 metre Row
  • 20 Ground to overheads (135/95 lb)
  • 1,500 metre Row
  • 20 Ground to overheads (135/95 lb)
  • 1,000 metre Row
  • 20 Ground to overheads (135/95 lb)
  • 500 metre Row
  • 10 Ground to overheads (135/95 lb)

WORKOUT 4

For Time

  • 1,000 metre Run
  • Ground to overheads (accumulate 2,000 kg)
  • 1,000 metre Run

Athlete may use any weight for the ground-to-overhead and perform as many reps as necessary to accumulate 2,000 kg for the movement.

To determine how many reps are required at a given weight, divide 2,000 by the weight of your bar (in kilograms). For example, if you are using 60 kg you must perform 33.33 reps (round up to 34).

To calculate in pounds, divide 4,400 by the weight of your bar (in pounds).

Scaling

Accumulate 1,000 kg in total with your lifts.

WORKOUT 5

For Time

  • 21-15-9 calorie Assault Bike
  • 10 Strongman Sandbag Over Shoulders (150/100 lb, after each set)

Directly into:

  • 21-15-9 calorie Row
  • 10 Dumbbell Box Step-Ups (24/20 in, 2×50/35 lb, after each set)

Complete 21 calories on the assault bike then 10 sandbags over shoulders, 15 cal assault bike, 10 sandbag over shoulders, 9 cal bike, 10 sandbag over shoulders.

Once you complete that you go right into 21 calorie row, then 10 box step-ups holding a DB in each hand, 15 cal row, 10 box step-ups, 9 cal row, 10 box step-ups.

Score is the time it takes to complete the workout.

Scaling

You can scale (up or down) the weight on the sandbag and the DBs if needed as well as the height of the boxes.

WORKOUT 6

5 Rounds for Time

  • 15 Ground to overheads (pick load & object)
  • 30 Step-Ups (pick height & object)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 5 rounds. Athlete can choose any object they can find at home, in the gym or from outside to use for the 15 Ground to overheads and 30 Step-Ups.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Step-Ups is completed.

Scaling

There is no beginner, intermediate and RX level here for this workout because you select the weight and height of the Step-Ups to suit your respective fitness level.

WORKOUT 7

For Time

  • 15 Ground to Overheads (155/105 lb)
  • 200 metre Walking Lunges
  • 15 Ground to Overheads (155/105 lb)
  • 800 metre Run
  • 15 Ground to overheads (155/105 lb)

Ground to overheads can be snatch, clean and jerk, or clean and press.

Scaling

Lower the weight of the Ground to Overhead exercise.

WORKOUT 8

21-15-9 Reps for Time

  • D-Ball Over Shoulders (150/100 lb)
  • Calorie Bike Erg

Time Cap: 5 minutes

Scaling

Use a lighter D-ball (Intermediate: 100/70 lb, Beginner: 70/50 lb).

WORKOUT 9

For Time

15-11-7-3 reps of:

  • Ground to overheads
  • Overhead Squats
  • 200 metre Run

Round 1: 95/75 lb

Round 2: 115/95 lb

Round 3: 135/115 lb

Round 4: 155/135 lb

After each round increase weights on barbell. Take the overhead squats from the ground (no rack).

Scaling

For Time

15-11-7-3 reps of:

  • Ground to overheads (75/55 lb)
  • Overhead Squats (75/55 lb)
  • 200 metre Run

WORKOUT 10

AMRAP in 17 minutes

  • 21 Lateral Bar Burpees
  • 16 Box Jumps (24/20 in)
  • 8 Front Rack Forward Lunges (60/40 kg)
  • 3 Ground to overheads (60/40 kg)

Scaling

Men use 40 kg barbell and women use 20 kg barbell for the lunges and ground to overheads.

WORKOUT 11

4 Rounds for Time

  • 30 Ground to overheads (45/25 lb plate)
  • 15 Toes to Bars
  • 15 Box Jumps (30/24 in)
  • 30 calorie Assault Air Bike

Scaling

Replace Toes to Bar with Knees to Elbows or Sit Ups.

Lower the height of the Box Jumps or perform Box Step ups

WORKOUT 12

AMRAP in 20 minutes

  • 10 Ground to overheads (160/100 lb)
  • 20 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb, 10/9 ft target)
  • 80 Single-Unders
  • 200 metre Weighted Run (45/25 lb)

Scaling

Change the Wall Ball Shots to Air Squats.

Swap the Single Unders for Tuck Jumps.

Replace the run with a walk.

WORKOUT 13

100 Rounds for Time

  • 1 Burpee
  • 2 Ground to overheads (pick load & object)
  • 3 Sit-Ups
  • 4 Box Step-Ups (24/20 in)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 100 rounds.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Box Step-Ups is completed.

Scaling

Perform 50 rounds instead of 100.

WORKOUT 14

AMRAP in 30 minutes

  • 30 calorie Assault Bike
  • 24 Ground to Overheads (45/25 lb)
  • 18 Knees-to-Elbows
  • 12 Bench Presses (185/115 lb)
  • 6 Pull-Ups

Scaling

Lower the weights for the Ground to Overheads and the Bench Presses. Alternatively swap Bench Presses for Press Ups.

WORKOUT 15

5 Rounds for Time

  • 100/80/60/40/20 Single-Unders
  • 75/60/45/30/15 Dumbbell Ground to overheads (35/25 lb)
  • 50/40/30/20/10 calorie Assault Air Bike
  • 30/24/18/12/6 Russian Twists (20/15 lb) (2-count)
  • 20/16/12/8/4 Deadlifts (bodyweight)

With a running clock, perform all 5 rounds of the workout, with descending repetitions for each movement each round.

For example, round 1 is 100 single-unders, 75 ground to overheads, 50 calories on the Assault Bike, etc. Round 2 is 80, 60, 40, etc. of the same movements. Continue until the 5th and final round of 20, 15, 10, 6, and 4 reps.

Scaling

Lower the weights and number of calories each round on the Assault Bike.

Start the workout in a later round if you feel that the volume will be too much for you.

WORKOUT 16

This Ground to Overhead Workout is great if you don’t have access to a gym, box or any equipment. You can complete this anywhere from your living room to the camp site or beach.

For Time

  • 50 Duffel Bag Ground to overheads
  • 75 Duffel Bag Deadlifts
  • 100 Duffel Bag Swings
  • 75 Duffel Bag Sit-Ups
  • 50 Duffel Bag Overhead Squats

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written. Fill your bag with your clothes or use whatever equipment you’ve got.

Score is the time on the clock when the last repetition of Overhead Squats is completed.

Scaling

Use a lighter object.

WORKOUT 17

For Time

  • 20 Pull-Ups
  • 25 Push-Ups
  • 400 metre Run
  • 60 Ground to Overheads (20/10 kg)
  • 20 Toes-to-Bars
  • 400 metre Run
  • 60 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lbs)
  • 20 Burpees
  • 200 metre Run
  • 200 Single Unders
  • 200 metre Run
  • 20 Burpees
  • 60 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lbs)
  • 400 metre Run
  • 20 Toes-to-Bars
  • 60 Ground to overheads (20/10 kg)
  • 400 metre Run
  • 25 Push-Ups
  • 20 Pull-Ups

Scaling

Cut each set in half (rounding up). For example 20 Burpees becomes 10 Burpees.

WORKOUT 18

With a Running Clock in 26 minutes

From 0:00-5:00, perform:

  • 50 Burpee Star Jumps

Then from 5:01-10:00, AMRAP of:

  • 3 Dumbbell Thrusters (50/35 lb)
  • 2 Overhead Lunges (50/35 lb)
  • 1 Prison Burpee

Then from 10:01-18:00, perform:

21-15-9

  • Alternating Dumbbell Snatches (50/35 lb)
  • Dumbbell Deadlifts (50/35 lb)

15-12-9

  • Dumbbell Hang Snatches (50/35 lb)
  • Sit-Ups

12-9-6

  • Dumbbell Shoulder-to-Overheads (50/35 lb)
  • Hands to Toes V-Ups

Finally, from 18:01-26:00, perform:

  • 10 Dumbbell Ground to overheads (50/35 lb)
  • 20 Jumping Squats
  • 30 Jumping Jacks
  • 40 Russian Twists
  • 30 Jumping Jacks
  • 20 Jumping Squats
  • 10 Dumbbell Ground to overheads (50/35 lb)

With a running clock, perform the prescribed work in the order written. From 0:00-5:00, perform the 50 Burpee Star Jumps. Then from 5:01-10:00, athlete must perform as many rounds and repetitions as possible (AMRAP) of 3 Dumbbell Thrusters, 2 Overhead Lunges, and 1 Prison Burpee.

Then from 10:01-18:00, athlete must complete 21 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches and 21 Dumbbell Deadlifts before moving on to 15 reps of each movement, down to 9 reps.

Continue with the same pattern for Dumbbell Hang Snatches and Sit-Ups but with the rep scheme of 15-12-9. Same goes for Dumbbell Shoulder-to-Overheads and Hands to Toes V-Ups for 12-9-6.

Finally, from 18:01-26:00, perform the prescribed work in the order written as fast as possible.

Score is the total number of repetitions completed before the 26-minute clock stops.

Movement Standards

Burpee Star Jump: Perform a standard Burpee but instead of clapping hands above the head, jump with both arms and legs extended in opposite directions to complete the repetition.

Prison Burpee: This is a complex variation of a standard Burpee. Athlete goes down for a Push-Up, then from the extended position, move the right knee towards the left elbow. Complete another Push-Up and move the left knee towards the right elbow. Then, perform another Push-Up and move the right knee towards outside the right elbow.

Complete another Push-Up and move the left knee towards the left elbow. Do another Push-Up and from the extended position, raise the right arm towards the sky perpendicular to the floor. Finally to finish one repetition, perform another Push-Up, and extend the left arm towards the sky perpendicular to the floor.

Hands to Toes V-Up: This is a variation of the standard V-Up. Instead of starting from a Hollow Hold position, lift the legs perpendicular to the ground and reach for the toes to complete one repetition.

Jumping Squats: This is a variation of the standard Air Squat. Perform an Air Squat and complete the repetition by jumping from the squat to the full extension.

Scaling

Use 35/20 lb Dumbbell.

Scale down the Burpee Star Jumps to standard Burpee.

PARTNER WORKOUT 19

AMRAP (with a Partner) in 17 minutes

  • 10 Ground to Overheads (135/95 lb)
  • 200 metre Partner Carry
  • 58 Burpees Over Partner

Break up the work between partners as needed.

Scaling

Lower the weight of the Ground to Overheads.

Replace the Partner Carry with a Weighted Carry.

Female athlete training outside with barbell.
Move with purpose, perform with intention

PARTNER WORKOUT 20

AMRAP (with a Partner) in 34 minutes

  • 4 Rope Climbs
  • 10 Thrusters (95/75 lb)
  • 19 calorie Row

Then, for time, complete:

  • 31 Stone Shouldering (as heavy as possible)

On a 34-minute clock perform as many rounds and repetitions as possible of the Rope Climbs, Thrusters and Row. Once the 34 minutes is up, immediately start a running clock and begin the 31 Stone Shouldering reps. If you don’t have a strongman Stone, perform Cleans with a heavy D-ball, Sandbag, or other odd object.

Score is the total number of rounds and repetitions of the AMRAP portion of the workout, as well as the time and load of the Stone Shouldering.

Scaling

Replace the Rope Climbs with Lat Pull Downs.

Lower the weight of the Thruster.

PARTNER WORKOUT 21

AMRAP (with a Partner) in 30 minutes

  • 60 Burpees Over Sandbag (40/25 lb)
  • 60 Sandbag Thrusters (40/25 lb)
  • 60 Sandbag Over Shoulders (40/25 lb)
  • 400 metre Partner Sandbag Carry Run (40/25 lb)

Only one athlete can work at a time. Switch as needed.

Scaling

Use a lighter Sandbag.

PARTNER WORKOUT 22

AMRAP (in a Team of 3) in 48 minutes

Partner A: Run 400 metres

Partner B performs AMRAP of:

  • 12 Overhead Plate Alternating Lunges (45/25 lb)
  • 6 Burpees to Plate (45/25 lb)
  • 19 Plate Ground to Overheads (45/25 lb)

Partner C: Rest

All partners rotate when Partner A finishes the run

Wear a Weight Vest (20/14 lb) throughout

When ‘A’ comes back from run, ‘A’ moves to ‘B’ (picks up where their partner left off), ‘B’ moves to ‘C’, ‘C’ moves to ‘A’. Continue this pattern for the duration of the 48-minute workout.

Score is the total number of rounds and repetitions completed of the 12-6-19 AMRAP

Scaling

Use a lighter plate.

GROUND TO OVERHEAD PARTNER WORKOUT 23

AMRAP (with a Partner) in 20 minutes

Buy In:

  • 150 metre Partner Carry (each)

Then:

Partner A completes 1 round of:

  • 15 American Kettlebell Swings (53/35 lb)
  • 10 Burpees
  • 5 Ground to Overheads (95/65 lb)

While Partner B performs:

  • Max Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)

Partners rotate each round until team completes 150 Wall Balls

Then, in time remaining:

  • AMRAP of the 15/10/5 rep rounds above (one partner working at a time)

On a 20-minute clock, complete as many rounds and repetitions as possible (AMRAP) of the prescribed work in the order written.

Once both partners have completed the 150 metre Partner Carry buy in, move on to the next component.

Partner A completes 1 round of 15/10/5 while Partner B performs Wall Ball Shots. Partners rotate until 150 Wall Balls have been completed. If there is time remaining on the clock, complete the same AMRAP (15 American Kettlebell Swings, 10 Burpees, 5 Ground to overheads) with one partner working at a time until the 20-minute clock stops.

Score is the total number of rounds and repetitions completed (for both partners) of the 15/10/5 before the 20-minute clock stops.

Tips and Strategy

As with any partner WOD, communication is key. Athletes should discuss things like:

  • Who goes first on the Partner Carry and the 15/10/5?
  • How they plan to execute the Partner Carry?
  • How many Wall Ball Shots they should aim for per set?
  • Who keeps track of the total score?

Intended Stimulus

This Partner Workout is designed to be both fun (athletes get to work together) and challenging (athletes tend to push harder with social pressure).

The load on both the American Kettlebell Swings and the Ground to overheads should be light enough so athletes can go unbroken. This workout is not very long, so light loads and a fast pace are necessary to accumulate rounds and reps. The load/height on the Wall Balls should be such that the athletes can do unbroken sets of 10-15 reps. Enjoy this lung-burning, leg-burning, high intensity workout!

Scaling

It’s important to scale the load so that both athletes can move smoothly and quickly. Long rest breaks will destroy the intensity of this Workout.

Beginner

Buy In:

  • 150 metre Kettlebell Farmer’s Carry (each, 2×53/35 lb)

Then:

Partner A completes 1 round of:

  • 15 American Kettlebell Swings (35/26 lb)
  • 10 Modified Burpees
  • 5 Ground to overheads (55/35 lb)

While Partner B performs:

  • Max Wall Ball Shots (14/10 lb)
  • Partners rotate each round until team completes 100 Wall Balls

Then, in time remaining:

  • AMRAP of the 15/10/5 rep rounds above (one partner working at a time)

Movement Standards

Modified Burpees: Stand in an athletic position with your core braced. Place your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Step out to a plank position. Step your feet back up to your hands. Jump vertically with full hip/knee extension. Extend your arms and touch your hands overhead during the jump.

Ground to Overhead Workouts

I included a large variety of different workouts so that you can pick and choose what works best for you.

As an exercise, the Ground to Overhead is functional and has many practical carry overs into other outdoor fitness activities. From Climbing to Kayaking, it will improve your general physical preparedness, strength, power and toughness.

If you love workout challenges, build abs and solid core strength with these Russian Twist variations or shock your body with tough Man Maker workouts.

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