How To Prevent Muscle Imbalance In CrossFit Athletes

Whether you’re a serious CrossFit athlete or someone who’s just using the workout to achieve a greater fitness level, large muscle groups such as the quadriceps, the back muscles (upper and lower) and hip flexors, depending upon the overall workout program, are the usual suspects when it comes to getting taxed and overburden.

This may cause the worked muscles to become stronger than the opposing muscles (pectorals, hamstring, triceps, the gluteus maximus and anterior deltoids), causing an imbalance overtime, which may lead to injury.

Fortunately, you can rectify the situation by performing strength training and flexibility exercises to the opposite (antagonist) muscles in order to strength-balance and lengthen the effected muscles. This will help you perform better and prevent injuries that would otherwise keep you away from favorite The Box.

Here is a list of strength training and flexibility exercises designed for CrossFitters whose workouts are centered on the aforementioned muscle areas. The below iron-pumping exercises work well in between your regular CrossFit ventures, and should be performed at least twice a week, while completing 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for each movement.

Tire Flip and Squat Disparity (Stiff Leg Deadlifts, Tricep Skull Crushers, Standing Hamstring and Overhead Tricep Stretches)

If you’re into punishing your body by flipping a massive tire for fun, then you know what your biceps and quadriceps feel like afterwards. Add in jump box squats or freeform air squats, and the pounding your quadriceps take multiplies tenfold. Do this overtime, and the antagonist muscle groups will get jealous, and ask you to pay attention to them as well.

I like performing stiff leg deadlifts and tricep skull crushers to help correct the muscle imbalance.
As for increasing flexibility, the standing hamstring and the overhead tricep stretches are both good choices to help even things out.

Pullup Problematic (Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Dumbbell Chest Press and Cobra Stretch)

While the pullup is a great exercise for any type of workout program, CrossFitters tend to rely on it a great deal, leading to wide, overpowering latissimus dorsi muscles. Don’t get me wrong, not much looks cooler than sporting expansive, 747-type of wings on your back, but you need to balance it out. Including the seated front dumbbell shoulder press and the dumbbell chest press are good ways to counteract it, while the cobra stretch (pose in yoga) is a fantastic way to loosen up the latissimus dorsi.

Running Yourself Ragged (Standing Cable Hip Extension, Gluteus Maximus and Hip Flexor Stretch)

With all the running, jumping and lunging performed during a typical CrossFit workout, you’re bound to develop tight, uneven hip flexors (iliopsoas) over a period of time. The lack of mobility in this area could cause a drop in performance at your Box, and may lead to an injury somewhere along the body. To help strengthen the hip extension muscle and stretch the hip flexors, the standing hip extension exercise and standing hip flexor stretch will help with correcting the imbalance.

Standing Hip Extension Cable Exercise

Technique: Attach a cable strap to your ankle, and adjust the appropriate weight. Kick one leg slightly backwards (about three to four inches off the ground) while keeping your knee straight and engage your abs. Return to starting position. Frequency: Perform 3-4 sets at 12-15 reps.

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

Technique: Place one leg in front of you, with one leg in back of you a decent distance apart from the front leg. Lean your trunk back while pulling your hip flexor area forward without moving your back leg. You should feel the stretch in the hip flexor region of the back leg. Frequency: Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 4-5 times, then stretch the opposite leg.


Written by Jerry Del Priore for Bodono.

Jerry Del Priore has worked as a certified personal trainer, and received his degree in Physical Education from Brooklyn College in 1991. Jerry is also a veteran print and digital Sports Writer-Reporter-Author experienced in writing in-depth profile stories on a variety of high school, college and professional athletes and teams.

Additionally, Jerry has developed a presentation based on his book, Running Through Roadblocks, which encourages children to overcome obstacles and never give up…no matter what!

Specialties: Baseball, football, hockey and basketball writing. Jerry also has covered lacrosse, soccer, golf and track and field, with ample experience cover women’s sports. Jerry is also a Food Writer/Blogger experienced in venue write-ups and reviews.

In addition, Jerry has ample experience working with medically fragile children, children with behavioral challenges and children with cognitively impairments.

Read Jerry Del Prior’s book:Running Through Roadblocks and view his blog at