“With great power comes great responsibility.” -Voltaire (also Uncle Ben in Spiderman)
“With great mobility comes a necessity for great motor control” -Matta
Who knew that I had so much in common with Voltaire and Spiderman’s uncle. I’m not referencing the ability to shoot spider webs out of your wrists, which would be awesome. I’m directly reaching out to you hyper-mobile people. That means you people that love yoga, are or used to be a dancer or that could take a nap in the pigeon pose position. Training can be hard when you have too much mobility so here’s a strategy that will help.
Watch the video below and try the self tests to see if you fit in the hyper-mobility category. I'm sorry in advance for the moderately awkward guys in the video. It's the best video I could find on this test series. Not everyone can be as entertaining as Kelly Starrett I guess.
Train like a powerlifter until you are strong enough to control your own body.
This seems a bit ironic because if you have ever spent any time around power lifters you know they are not flexible. They are usually massive, love listening to Mastodon or Slip Knot and do not like yoga.
Where the power lifting community typically lacks in mobility they make up for in an obsession with creating and keeping tension. If you are trying to pull 600-1000 lbs off the ground you had better have a well organized spine.
The video below is a great example of why you need a good organization strategy before pulling heavy weight. This animal is going to pull over 1000 pounds from the ground.
I treat my hyper mobile athletes like very weak power lifters. They should focus on the big 4 lifts. Those would be the strict press, bench press, squat(specifically box squat) and deadlift.
These movements should start in a position of high stability and maintain high amounts of control and connection throughout the entire range. If you cannot control your own body in a slow controlled movement, what makes you think you can control when speed is added?
Lastly, I know people hate to hear this but sometimes you have to back off the Metcons until you have developed some strength/control. Look, I’m not telling you not to run intervals or row until you puke. What I’m saying is that until you can box squat a decent amount of weight without losing spinal control, you should not be doing 150 wall balls for time. There is no way in hell that that athlete will be able to actually control their spine.
Here's another great video from Kelly explaining the use of the box squat.
Take a step back, try this simple programming for some strength/control development. You will be better off in the long run and will improve as a CrossFit athlete going forward.
Hyper-mobile Athlete Program Block
Strict Press 3 sets of 5 reps
Strict Dips(assistance as needed) 5 sets of 10 reps
Strict Chin Ups (assistance as needed) 5 sets of 10 reps
Box Squat 3 sets of 5 reps
Split Squat 5 sets of 10 reps each leg
Single Leg Kettle Bell Deadlift 5 sets of 5 reps each leg
Bench Press 3 sets of 5 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press 5 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Row 5 sets of 10 reps
Deadlift 3 sets of 5 reps
Good Morning 5 sets of 10 reps
Hanging Leg Raise Strict 5 sets of 10 reps
Work up to a weight that you can perform but is not easy for 3 sets of 5 reps. Try and add a small amount of weight each week to your big lifts(strict press, box squat, bench press and deadlift). This could be as small as 2-5 lbs per week but the it’s important to try and increase the weight slightly each week.
It's very important to try and maintain tension during the entire range of motion in these movements. The whole point of stepping back to work on this is to re-learn how to control all of your mobility.
Perform this strength block for 6-8 weeks. Add in interval training on the rower, air dyne or running to keep your metabolic capacity from completely disappearing.
After 6-8 weeks you should have much more control of your crazy mobile body! Get back into CrossFit WODs and start setting some new PRs.
Good luck and enjoy getting a little stronger!
-Dr. Danny, PT, DPT
Dr. Danny and staff's views on performance improvement, injury prevention, and sometimes other random thoughts.