Shoulder Workouts for Smart CrossFit Athletes: Strength & Injury Prevention

The shoulder joints are one of the most delicate joints and these shoulder workouts will help you to train and strengthen them. There are two groups of muscles in your shoulders: extrinsic muscles and intrinsic muscles. The first stem from the torso and attach to the bones of the shoulder, and the second originate from the scapula or clavicle and attach to the humerus.


  • Deltoids. This large triangular muscle covers the glenohumeral joint and gives the shoulder its rounded-off shape. It stretches across the top of the shoulder from the clavicle in the front to the scapula in the back.
  • Infraspinatus: This rotator cuff muscle helps with the raising and lowering of the upper arm.
  • Triceps brachii: This large muscle in the back of the upper arm helps straighten the arm.
  • Latissimus dorsi: This flat rectangular muscle of the back helps the arms rotate as well as move away and closer to the body.
  • Subscapularis: This is a large triangular muscle near the humerus and collarbone. It helps rotate the humerus.
  • Supraspinatus: This small muscle is located at the top of the shoulder and helps raise the arm away from the body.

Strong shoulders will help you:

  • Raise your arms with weight
  • Manage your own bodyweight for gymnastic exercises
  • Stop dislocation and injury when carrying heavy loads
  • Improve posture


Your scapulae (scaps for short) are the foundation of your shoulder joint and these flat wing like bones help to anchor your shoulder to your torso. Any exercise where you move your upper arm utilises your scapulae in some way and any weakness in the 17 different muscles that connect to it will translate into weakness in the movement. They are an incredibly mobile bone, tilting and rotating to accommodate the wide range of movement of the shoulder joint.

shoulder workouts
Anterior view of the Scapulae

Of your overhead reach, the muscles around your scapulae are responsible for roughly the final 60 degrees. Everybody knows that a strong overhead pressing or jerking position involves having your upper arm behind your ear, your glutes switched on, your abs tight and your ribcage pinned down. So if you struggle to get the bar directly overhead without having to break good form and flare out your ribcage – compromising safety as well as strength – your scapulae could be the problem.


  • 3 Rounds for Time
  • 1 Barbell Complex*
  • 10 second L-Sit
  • 2 Barbell Complexes*
  • 20 second L-Sit
  • 3 Barbell Complexes*
  • 30 second L-Sit

*1 Barbell Complex consists of: 1 Snatch Deadlift + 1 Hang Snatch + 1 Overhead Squat + 1 Snatch Push Press

  • Round 1: 135/85 lb
  • Round 2: 155/105 lb
  • Round 3: 185/125 lb

This workout can be done at a slow and steady pace. It can be done as a warm-up or accessory workout in order to address weaknesses or instability.

This workout can be scored by total weight, time or not at all depending on the intent.


For intermediate/beginners the weight can be reduced on the snatch. Kettlebell swings combined with overhead squats can be subbed for those who are no proficient in the snatch. A bent knee raise can be subbed for an L Sit.


Training Thinktank Throwdown WOD

For intermediate/beginners the weight can be reduced on the snatch. Kettlebell swings combined with overhead squats can be subbed for those who are no proficient in the snatch. A bent knee raise can be subbed for an L Sit.

abs workouts L Sit

4 Rounds for Time

  • 20 Shoulder-to-Overheads*
  • 15 Front Squats
  • 20 Box Jump Overs (24/20 in)

*Round 1: 135/95 lb

Round 2: 155/105 lb

Round 3: 175/125 lb

Round 4: 205/145 lb

Time Cap: 22 minutes

The weight for the shoulder-to-overheads and front squats will be increased after each round. Athletes must add their own weights.


Round 1: 95/65 lb
Round 2: 115/85 lb
Round 3: 135/105 lb
Round 4: 155/115 lb

Movement Standards

Box Jump Overs: Rep counts when athlete lands on other side of box. Only feet may touch the top of the box. Do not need to come to full hip/knee extension at top of box. May jump all the way over the box but feet must stay above the plane of the box. (can’t straddle box when jumping)

Shoulder-to-Overheads: Bar must be cleaned from the ground. Any STOH style: Strict/ push press/ push jerk/ split jerk. Rep is complete when hips/knees reach full extension Head must be visible “through the window” of the arms.

Front Squats: Hip crease below the top of the knee. Full extension of hips and knees at top of rep. May go straight from last STOH into FS. If bar is dropped- may squat clean first rep from the ground.

Notes: Athletes must load their own bars. Loads can be added at any time. Clips must be put back on outside of plates.

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