When I talk to other CrossFit athletes, I frequently find myself commiserating over the pain of the overhead position. This position is a real b*tch. I have such a hard time with it, that when I first started CrossFit, my arms would fall asleep. Try holding a barbell overhead with limp arms — not happening.
Initially, my challenge overhead confused me — I have strong shoulders, so I shouldn't have any problems, right? Wrong. I discovered that it's all about position and to improve my position, I need to improve my mobility.
With the Open approaching, I decided that this was a great opportunity to get to work on this weakness. To do that, I've been focusing on a few different exercises.
Face Down Thumbs Up
How: Lie face down and rest your head on an abmat or your fist. Extend your right arm forwards and rotate your arm so that the thumb is up and your armpit is facing the ground. Lift your arm and hold for five seconds. Repeat this eight times and then switch arms.
Why: This dynamic exercise works to train your muscles in this position. It's important to focus on the positioning and rotation of your arm. Mimic your overhead position, focusing on facing your armpit toward the ground.
How: Back up to a waist-high surface. Place your hands on the surface with your fingers facing backwards and palms down. Lower yourself, keeping your shoulders back. Hold for 45 seconds to a minute.
Why: This exercise opens up the front of your shoulders, providing more range of motion.
This is a series of five mobility exercises with a band by Mobility WOD. The whole series should take about twenty minutes to perform, but it's totally worth it.
All in all, if you perform the two no-equipment-required mobility exercises and then follow them up with the Five Way Shoulder series, you will have a comprehensive, 25-minute shoulder mobility workout.
Make sure to test and re-test. Perform three to five overhead squats before your mobility workout and then do it again after your mobility workout to see what improvements have been made.