They told her to “take a break” from CrossFit® – here’s what she did instead…

Written By Ben  |  Mobility 

If I could grant you the wish of having the shoulder performance of a Mat Fraser or a Katrin Davidsdottir, right now, would you take it? 

Without knowing exactly who you are or what your background is, I can probably make this assumption: strong, pain-free shoulders are something you want. Because let’s be honest, we would all love to snatch more weight, kip a little bit more flawlessly, or improve our Fran score. 

So what if I told you that no matter how old you are, that having healthy, pain-free, high performing shoulders IS totally possible? 

Whether you’re a high-level athlete looking to take it a step further, or someone who is just starting out and feeling those aches and pains... or maybe you just want to save your shoulders for the long run. It’s possible, no matter where you currently stand.

Which is why I'm going to share a story with you... three stories in fact.  

These three athletes differ in age, shape, backgrounds, etc.

But they all started with shoulder issues.


And now, with the help of us (WODprep) and their own personal dedication, they all have one thing in common: healthy, pain-free shoulders!

Intrigued? You should be. Keep reading…

Let’s talk about Holly.

shoulder mobility problems

At 33 years old, Holly is a fitness connoisseur. She CrossFits®, she climbs, she runs - she does it all (she even recently climbed Kilimanjaro!). However like many of us, she found that her sedentary job was taking a toll on her shoulders. 

That’s right, even with all of that fitness, Holly was plagued with a lack of shoulder mobility in the gym. Along with restriction, there was a lingering pain and discomfort that wouldn’t go away.


So she took matters into her own hands and started with our 8-week ShoulderROM Unlocked program. Check out what she has to say about it after the fact:

“Almost straight away my thoracic spine started to feel better. I used to take painkillers fairly regularly when it flared up, but I haven’t needed to take any since starting the program. Maybe a month or so in, I noticed less strain when kipping on the pull-up bar and was even able to start linking chest to bar pull-ups and working on my toes to bar properly.”

Even at Holly’s level of all around fitness baddassery (yes, that’s a word) she still felt the need to improve her shoulders. Lucky for her, programming within ShoulderROM translates to multiple CrossFit® movements and positions. Which means that she quickly saw improvements in several areas of her fitness and everyday life, and not just with her kipping pull-ups.

Reader: "Hold on Garry, are you saying I need to spend hours each day working on my shoulders to see this kind of change?!"

Me: "Nope."

It's all about consistency. Without consistency, you're going to fail to reach the desired outcome.

It’s the same for dieting, double under practice, and you guessed it - shoulder mobility.

In fact, I'm going to recommend something super easy: 10 minutes.

Yep, that's all you need.

If you can simply dedicate 10-15 minutes every warm-up before a workout, you can have high performance shoulder mobility.

Takeaway #1: Consistency is key!

Better yet... Consistency is KING!

10 minutes of a solid shoulder movement routine every time that you step in the gym can take you from looking like a stiff piece of bark, to being a flexible, strong beast!

Next up: Marie-Frédérique.

shoulder mobility improvement drills

CrossFit® Open 18.3 at CrossFit® ADM (Photo: Johany Jutras)

A mom of four and a CrossFit® Coach, she came from a very solid sports background.  Soccer, volleyball, flag football, badminton, snowboarding, skiing, and street hockey - to name a few.

As sports started to fall off in her adult years, she continued to go to the gym - with the acception of her time being pregnant. 

“When I had my last kid, I gained more than 60 pounds during pregnancy. I was really motivated to lose that weight and get back into shape. I did that mostly by myself at home, but after four years I was not motivated anymore. My hairdresser told me about this CrossFit® place and what she was doing over there. I decided to try it out for a month and fell in love with the training, the coaches, the community, the challenges, the competition.”

Marie-Frédérique came to us with dire pain in both of her shoulders. Which - if you have ever been in the shoulder pain cave - it can be a total day ruiner let alone a total training killer!

I spent thousands of dollars on health practitioners, chiropractors, and other specialists to help rehabilitate them, but the best they did was to have me rest from CrossFit® to feel better.”

If you’re like most athletes, time off means loss of reps, strength, and performance. And just like everyone else, Marie-Frédérique’s goal is to not only perform at a high-level but to stay healthy and pain-free while doing so. Here’s what she had to say about her goals after ShoulderROM Unlocked:

“Keeping my shoulders healthy and continue to get better at CrossFit®! I want to stay strong, fit, and healthy to show a great life pattern to my kids.”

So we have Holly, who crushes multiple domains of fitness, and Marie-Frédérique, a CrossFit® Coach and mother of four. Both have now experienced a better quality of life from having high-performing shoulders. Boom! Mission accomplished.

Two very different women, with the common denominator of having shoulders that used to limit certain movements, caused pain, and restricted progress in their sport of fitness (but not anymore).

And I’ll let you in on a little secret… which is key takeaway #2:

It was our dynamic movement approach within ShoulderROM Unlocked that helped both of these athletes get rid of their aches and pains. Not static stretches or hanging on bands, but just pure, old fashioned mobility gained through movement.

More often than not, the best thing you can do to get rid of those aches and pains is to take your body through movement!

Which is why at WODprep, we always use continuous movement in our stretches to create lasting changes. This helps the brain rewire the pain signal by continually taking it through movement, so that it can recognize that you will not get injured.

Since the movements are so dynamic and explosive in CrossFit®, your body will splint and make things tight to simply protect you from yourself. And while you may think the default solution is to stretch, foam roll, etc. - it's not. 

Dynamic movements produce more lasting mobility results, and reflect across your entire performance.

Which brings us to our last athlete...

Meet Jeremy:

shoulder mobility dynamic movements ShoulderROM

“I wrestled and played baseball in High School and went on to play baseball at Yeshiva University (Division III). I was on various lifting programs, mixed with some running. After college I belonged to some ‘globo gyms’ to stay in shape, but never really had any specific goals, just about how I felt that day and what exercises I was familiar enough to do on my own.”

Jeremy is now a functional fitness enthusiast and a former athlete, who views his CrossFit® membership as an investment in himself.

And just like most of us, Jeremy isn’t looking to become a regionals athlete (however he notes that could be a different case if he were a bit younger) but is simply looking to constantly improve himself, his fitness, and maintain a healthy body. Which is exactly why he decided to invest in the ShoulderROM Unlocked program, and almost immediately saw it translate across his performance:

“I PR’ed my snatch and also got my first ring muscle up while in the middle of the course.”

This is exactly what we strive for with ShoulderROM programming. It shouldn’t matter what walk of life you come from, or what level of athlete you are. We all can and should have super healthy and functional shoulders, and feel great while excelling in our fitness.

Holly, Marie-Frédérique, and Jeremy all understood that healthy shoulders would help with all other movements within their fitness realms. So they signed up, stay consistent with the program, and reaped the benefits. 

front rack mobility ShoulderROM

And now, the final key takeaway: Variance!

Just like you often hear about the importance of variance in the CF world, you need to attack your mobility drills and routines with the same mentality.

If you perform the same stretches over and over and expect to see crazy mobility gainz then you, my friend, are mistaken.

Over eight weeks, these three athletes didn’t do one day of programming that looked exactly the same. Not only that, the difficulty of movements within ShoulderROM gradually progressed as they worked through the program.

Because variance and progression are absolutely critical to get your tissue to change.

Quick Recap:

You need these three factors for BADASS SHOULDER PERFORMANCE:

  1. Consistency - As with all fitness programs, sports, or anything in life, you need consistency. Shoulder mobility isn’t gained by only trying to do it once a week and then going and spending 6-8 hours a day in chair. Something simple added to your warm-up each day can make or break your performance, let alone your shoulder health.
  2. Dynamic Movements - Your mobility will come much faster if you gain mobility through movement. Meaning, taking your shoulders through a range of motion multiple times (instead of one long and slow hold) will help your body to adapt much faster!
  3. Variance - Just like your regular training, you wouldn’t do the same amount of weight, sets, and reps every week in your squat training - right? So why would you do the same for your stretching routine! Keep it varied, and always hit all ranges of motion, each and every week!

Parting Thoughts

My coaching advice to all athletes is to strive for self-awareness. Recognize your weaknesses and attack them. Sometimes your weakness may not necessarily be a specific movement, but rather a certain body part - which when unlocked -  can reveal higher levels of performance across the board.

So don’t stop your pursuit of the right of high performing shoulders! It may just be closer than you think.

Hopefully, you’re already receiving emails from Coach Ben about how to improve your shoulder performance. If you’ve never watched our “Shoulder Mobility MasterClass” videos, then you can sign up here:

A big thanks to Holly, Marie-Frédérique, and Jeremy for taking the time to share their stories with us. If you have any questions at all about shoulder mobility or our ShoulderROM Unlocked program, be sure to comment below and one of our WODprep coaches will get back to you ASAP!

  • I just recently started doing Crossfit and am having shoulder problems with some of the movements. I found this article very encouraging and would like to know more about ShoulderRom

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

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