Mobility rant.

April 28, 2014

CrossFit has 10 what they consider essential elements to fitness.  Lets talk about #4.

1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance- The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.

2. Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.

3. Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.

4. Mobility – The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.

5. Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

6. Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

7. Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

8. Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

9. Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.

10. Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.


Some CrossFit’s devote an entire day to mobility in their programming.  Frankly, I don’t disagree.  Among the 10 aspects of fitness, mobility is unique in that a limited mobility will cascade in a bad way into ALL  your other fitness elements.   Its a key without which you cant get through the door.  By itself not a sufficient condition for fitness but certainly a necessary one.  

The problem is, mobility work is not cool or fun.  It’s not scored and it doesnt come with a FRAN or HELEN name attached to it.  No one posts on Facebook about their 3 minute achilles tendon stretch. And if your goals are vague and general; along the lines of ” I’m just here to get a good workout” ( that is to say, you’ve failed to buy into how important QUANTIFYING your improvement is to actually improving)  you’re likely not motivated enough to put in the extra work necessary to correcting your lack of mobility.  For you, CrossFit will remain difficult, and in a confusing and frustrating way, not a cool, challenging way.  Certain positions will be hard to reach. Some postures will be beyond you. Things will feel awkward and unbalanced.  You will be unable to apply simply cues like “Find Your Heels”  or “Put your shoulders into your ears”  even though you understand the words.  Your chance of injury will go up, and if you do get injured your recovery will be muted.

Too many of you figuratively wash your hands of a movement like the overhead squat, the muscle up, the front rack position, the pistol, true overhead etc etc and give up on progressing, justifying it with things like “I’m too old for that one”  or  “my arms dont bend that way”  or  “That just feels weird”.   You’re not too old, you’re stiff.  Your arms dont bend that way cause you wont suffer 4 minutes 3x per week; and that feels weird because you cant keep your balance; and you cant keep your balance cause you’re hip flexors are tight as a drum.  

Take this deload week when you will have extra time in almost every workout, and push your mobility.  Stretch into mild discomfort and hold it on and off for 5 minutes.  Roll out on the hardest roller you can and dont be afraid of some pain.  

The good news is, Mobility improvements can often happen quickly.  Sometimes 5 minutes in a deep squat can yield immediate visible benefit.  Roll out one leg and not the other and you’ll often feel difference right away.  Mobility exercises must be frequent at first, and typically they are uncomfortable during the application, but the dividends in your fitness are amazing.


Here’s one example I found by going to YOUTUBE  and typing “MOBILITY”  and “OVERHEAD SQUAT”







  1. I disagree …I think rolling out with the PVC is as cool as the other side of the pillow. Screw what Facebook thinks.

  2. This is a great post Brock

    it is a bit odd to spend just as much time working on mobility as it is working on the lifts, but I have found that in some cases it isn’t just something that is recommended it’s downright required. If Getting into position is odd, painful, or feels the least bit off kilter then it’s always back to the roller I go. It is always an issue with my flexibility in the joints, 100% of the time! In many cases, mobility is the difference between making the list or missing horribly.
    Mobility work has become a daily ritual for me not just something that I do as the feeling comes on. At first it was painful and I hated it, now I really look forward to it. And, my lifts are greatly improved as a result.
    Great post Brock, this is something that never gets the attention it should!!

    • And you used to make fun of me for “stretching more than anyone else you know”

      • Live and learn Marcos

  3. 4900 BS
    Wod – 15:42 rx

  4. friday will be 3 weeks! not much longer!…. i feel like a soggy pancake.

  5. BS 4×5: 185, 205, 225 (fail), 205

    WOD: 18:40 scaled to 24″ box jumps

  6. BS 4500
    WOD 14:07 w Box Step

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