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Take Home Test: Shoulder, Hip, and Ankle Mobility

By admin | In Gymnastics | on April 2, 2013

Take out a piece of paper and make out a list of movements you either can’t do or don’t do well. Now under that write down every mobility issue you have that you know of (shoulders, upper back, hips, glutes, hammies, calves/ankles, wrist, neck). Now see if you can connect the dots. Your difficulty doing the movement may have nothing to do with strength and everything to do with mobility.

Today we will be doing handstand push ups (HSPUs) and pistols in the workout. These two movements require a great deal of mobility to do correctly, or you risk shoulder injury in the HSPUs or knee/hip/back/ankle injury in the pistols. Notice I say mobility and not flexibility too. To be bendy but not strong is not safe either.

Here are a couple of tests you can do at home to see if you’re mobile enough for today’s movements:

Handstand Push Up
Stand with your feet together. Keeping your midline tight and ribcage down (think standing hollow), raise your arms to the ceiling. You should have a straight line from your wrists to your shoulders, hips, knees, and heels. Also you should be able to face your palms directly to the ceiling so you know you have proper wrist mobility as well.

photo 3

If your shoulders are tight and you can’t bring your arms overhead with out arching your back, you know you won’t be able to get into a good position to press yourself up in a HSPU.

Pistol (3 part test)
1.  Hip test: First, you should should be able to squat to full depth (hips at least below knees).

photo 4

2.  Hamstring test: Find a door jamb (or have a friend hold a broom stick by the middle of your femur) and lay down on the ground with your feet straight and feet together. Keeping your other leg locked out and flat on the ground, lift your leg up as far as you can. Flex your toes towards your face and not to the ceiling. If you can clear the broomstick or door jamb with your heel, you pass.

photo 1

3. Ankle test: Holding a door jamb, squat as low as you can to the floor. Lift one leg out and straighten it. If you’re able to keep your support foot flat on the ground without your heel raising up, you pass.

photo 2

If you “failed” any of these tests, take note of where you need work and we can prescribe some homework for you. In short, if you “failed” these tests, we’ll be substituting dumbbell presses and one legged squats until your mobility improves. Otherwise, you’ll risk some gnarly injuries that may take you out of commission for some time.

WOD 04.02.13

Deadlift 1×5 or Wendler

Run 400m


  • 30 Handstand Push Ups
  • 60 Pistols

Run 400m

You can break up the HSPUs and Pistols however you like.

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