10 Exercises To Improve Your CrossFit Shoulder Mobility

We know how important it is to build muscle for Crossfit. We know we need a high level of conditioning.

We know we need to aim for solid workouts, but what about something you probably haven’t worked on before? Shoulder mobility.

What Is Shoulder Mobility?

Many CrossFit workouts require good range of motion, i.e. overhead squat and snatch. Specifically, shoulder mobility is your ability to position your shoulders and upper body for those lifts.

If you’re range of motion is good, you’re using your body mechanics well, but if your range of motion is less than ideal, you’re probably not working as efficiently.

And when you’re working efficiently, the chances are better that you’ll prevent injury and overexertion. We’ll get into why it’s so important to staying healthy later.

For now, read on to see how to improve your shoulder mobility so you can push your workouts at the box.

How Do You Measure Shoulder Mobility?

There are many ways to test for shoulder mobility, but one expert-recommended way is the “reach test.”

In this test, to check your left shoulder, you’ll stand and raise your right arm up overhead. Bend that right elbow and rest your right palm on the back of your neck.

Stretch it behind as far as you can down your shoulder blades.

With your left hand, reach behind your back and try to touch your left hand fingers to your right hand fingers. Measure the distance between your finders and any overlap.

Repeat the test on the other side shoulder.

If your fingers overlap, your flexibility is considered excellent.

  • Fingers touch: Good flexibility
  • Fingers less than two inches apart: Average
  • Fingers more than two inches apart: Poor

It’s a good idea to retest your mobility after a few weeks of targeted exercises. You’ll want to see what’s getting better and what can be improved upon.

Read Also: The ultimate guide to shoulder workouts for women

Why Is Shoulder Mobility So Important In CrossFit?

Most of the time we’re hunched over at our desks or staring down at our phone, all things that affect our shoulder flexibility and all things that can lead to tight shoulders.

Shoulder mobility is important because it helps keep those joints from stiffening up and causing neck and shoulder pain.

If you work on shoulder mobility, you’ll increase blood flow in the area and keep those muscles prime.

In CrossFit specifically, shoulder mobility means more power. By working on those shoulder muscles, you’re priming them for tougher workouts and eventually, more power and strength.

Many experts say that at some point, you’ll plateau in your CrossFIt progress. There can be a lot of reasons for that halt in progress, but one of those reasons is shoulder mobility.

If your shoulder mobility isn’t ideal, you’re not getting the most out of workouts that rely on your shoulder’s flexibility.

But even more, good shoulder mobility means you’re less likely to get injured. Most of the time, if your shoulder mobility is lacking, you’re compromising for that in some way.

The spine might be unstable, your head might be slumped, and all that could eventually lead to injury.

Concentrating on increasing your shoulder mobility will help keep injuries at bay and keep you improving.

Shoulder Mobility Warmup

Before you dive into any exercises or workouts, you’ll want to warm up and get your muscles firing. These warmups target your rotator cuffs and muscles in the upper back and spine.

  1. Circular RotationsRotate your arms at your shoulder in one direction one arm at a time. 10X each arm. Both directions.
  2. Both Arms Rotations – Rotate both arms at the same time in one direction. 10X. Both directions.
  3. Squat and Reach – Squat down, knees bent and touch your toes. Touch your right hand to your right toe. At the same time, reach with your left hand up toward the sky. Turn your shoulder and head up looking toward your reaching hand. Repeat on other side. 10X each side.
  4. Resistance Band Over and BackStretch a resistance band in front of you with both hands. Drop your hands in front of you with resistance band. Lift the band up and over your head and behind your back and over again. 10X.
  5. 5. Resistance Band Pull – Tie a resistance band to something. Stand facing the pole where you tied the band. Pull with both hands on the band toward your face. 10X

Exercises To Improve Shoulder Mobility

They’re not as grand as overhead lifts or big bodyweight exercises, but these exercises to boost shoulder mobility can be just as impactful. After a solid warmup, try working these exercises into your weekly workouts.

  1. Cross Arm Stretch– You might remember this one from your P.E. days. Cross your arm across your body and pull on your shoulder blade. 3X30 seconds.
  2. Wall Angel– Stand against a wall and put your hands up against the wall. Move the arms up from the right angles and over your head, sliding against the wall. Bring down. Repeat.
  3. Dumbbell Press– Stand and lift dummbells from right angles at your shoulders and lift above your head. Bring down. Repeat.
  4. Shoulder Roll – Lean against a wall and place a tennis ball between your spine and shoulder blades. Put pressure on the ball and roll. Gently apply pressure for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Doorway Stretch – Stand in a doorway and put your hands on both sides of the door. Stretch through the doorway. Hold.


If you want to ward off injury and keep making progress in the box, spend some time focusing on your shoulder mobility. It’s not always a first priority for athletes, but time spent working on it will keep you “head and shoulders” above the competition.