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Crossover Symmetry Drills
Written by Nichole DeHart

If you are a member of the CrossFit community, then I am sure you have heard about the Crossover Symmetry System. It was one of the hottest new CrossFit toys of 2014 and it’s popularity is still growing. Honestly, I think it is one of the best investments an athlete can make. The Crossover Symmetry System helps eliminate and manage shoulder pain by strengthening the rotator cuff, helping the shoulder to move more efficiently and provide more stability in the shoulder girdle. The activation and iron scap series each take 3-5 minutes to complete. That is a short amount of time to add to your training and you’ll see a huge improvement in your shoulder mobility, overhead strength and can even eliminate some nagging shoulder pain.

Here are a few of my favorite Crossover Symmetry drills; however, if you have access to the system, don’t just limit yourself to these drills. Follow the instructions on the handy, dandy wall mount they give you and enter shoulder utopia!

Pull-Down Drill

Grap a higher resistant band (red), cross over the bands and walk back until you have tension on the band. Face the Crossover Symmetry System, have a slight bend in your knees and push your hips back to drop your torso, set your shoulders back and down and pull the cords to your hips. Hold this position for 1 second, then add an additional squeeze to pinch your shoulder blades together (avoid shrugging) and return the cords back to the start position. Repeat for 6-8 repetitions.

90/90 Drill

Grab a lighter resistant band (purple or yellow), cross over the bands and walk back until you have tension on the band. Face the Crossover Symmetry System, have a slight bend in your knees and hold the cords at eye level. Set your shoulders back and down, pull the cords to your chest, then externally rotate the shoulders to finish with a “W” position. Reverse the movement to go back to the start position. Repeat for 6-8 repetitions.

Victory Drill

Grab a lighter resistant band (purple or yellow), cross over the bands and walk back until you have tension on the band. Face the Crossover Symmetry System, have a slight bend in your knees and hold the cords at eye level. Without bending the elbows, pull your shoulder blades down and raise your arms to an overhead position. Make sure to not shrug your traps and to keep your mid-line engaged (no over-extension in the ribcage). Keep the shoulders pinned back and down then descend the arms back to the start position. Repeat for 6-8 repetitions.

These drills are just give an introduction to the Crossover Symmetry System and are some of my favorites for a CrossFitter. If you are interested in purchasing a system for yourself, check out their website for more details.


Crossover symmetry provides shoulder strengthening in multi-plane patterns, rather than the more-often used single plane. It uses the ideas of strengthening the shoulder through movement patterns, rather than isolating and targeting specific shoulder and scapular muscles. Through the ‘X’ pattern created by the resistance bands, crossover symmetry provides a rotational stability component in addition to the targeted movement pattern for exercise. There are 4 key programs used in our clinic: Activation, Activation+, Recovery, and Strength designed to target specific components of rehab or general shoulder exercise. 

Crossover symmetry uses various resistance bands of weights from 3 to 40 lbs for shoulder strengthening. The key component that makes crossover symmetry stand out from other strengthening products and programs is it was engineered to target “functional movement patterns” ( versus isolating specific muscles. In this way, it provides patients of all categories a more efficient strengthening program and ‘test’ for which activities they have improved at or continue to experience difficulty and/or pain. As a PT, I have incorporated the use of crossover for a majority of my patients with cervical, shoulder, and upper thoracic pathologies. Due to the variety of movements and resistances it provides, I can choose exercises that provide the most relevant transition to activities patients have difficulty with. Crossover has become a staple in our rehab programs for shoulder, thoracic, and cervical patients because of the large variety of exercises it provides, and regions of the body involved with the activity. After only 10 repetitions of each exercise, there is a significant and distinct ‘burn’ in your shoulders and scapular region from the workout provided and can be modified as needed for each patient. We provide treatment for anyone from younger children to older adults, and crossover can be adapted to anyone using the system. For example, baseball players need strength and stability in the ‘high 5’ and overhead positions to prevent injury. While rehabbing a high school baseball player, I was able to focus a number of movements using the crossover to simulate these positions for the transition back to a throwing program.  It does not require an excessive amount of resistance or repetitions to provide proper muscle activation and a solid shoulder workout. Our clinic solely uses the wall anchors, however, they offer squat rack straps and door anchors for those who do not have space at home or in their clinic. The individual package includes a plated workout program which directions in resistance levels and band positions for each exercise, in addition to a training guide booklet and access to their online “Training Zone.” If you are recovering from a shoulder injury, previously received treatment, and looking to continue with progress or just want to incorporate a safe and effective strengthening program into your daily routine; we couldn’t provide a stronger recommendation for use of Crossover Symmetry to achieve your goals.

 If you are interested in rehabbing with the use of crossover symmetry or are looking for proper use of the equipment and would like more information, please feel free to reach out to use at or @ElitePT_ on Instagram. If you are a former patient, clinic, or gym looking to purchase the crossover symmetry please reach out to us for more details regarding discounted pricing or directly to Crossover Symmetry at or @crossoversymmetry on Instagram.


by Patrick Dudley

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Crossover Symmetry: A Climber's Perspective

Matt Unthank knows shoulders. He’s the director of education & training at Crossover Symmetry, a young Colorado company that developed a portable shoulder training system designed to relieve pain, prevent injury, and enhance performance. He also has a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and is an occasional gym climber himself.

When Matt was younger, he had seemingly chronic shoulder issues. Like most people, he chalked it up to mobility problems. The answer was simple: keep smashing yourself on lacrosse balls and foam rollers until it goes away.

Except it wasn’t working. Matt’s pain wouldn’t subside no matter how much self-torture he inflicted. That’s when he discovered Crossover Symmetry, which, at the time, was focused on helping baseball pitchers add velocity to their throws. The company had developed a sequence of seven exercises that could be done in less than five minutes—none of which involved lifting heavy weights. When his shoulder pain went away for the first time in years, he became a believer and joined the company.

Instead of adding raw strength, Crossover Symmetry focuses on creating stability in the shoulder using a slightly modified version of traditional shoulder bands. Their program repackages common physical therapy exercises into an out-of-the-box routine coupled with a comprehensive online education platform that they keep updated with the latest in shoulder research. The goal is to educate and equip athletes, giving them the tools to end shoulder pain and injury.

We had a chance to sit down with Matt and pick his brain on everything shoulders. Then—because we always appreciate a well-rounded perspective—we spoke to Thomas Betterton, owner of the Denver Bouldering Club, which recently implemented Crossover Symmetry in its gym. We were curious to hear his take on the system and how he and other climbers benefit from it.

Here’s what we learned:

Tell us about how the shoulder works and how this relates to common shoulder issues.

Matt: A lot of people just see the arm and how it attaches. They say, “This is where it hurts, so this is where the problem is.” People who really get how the shoulders work know that almost always, issues originate from something upstream, commonly how the scapula (shoulder blade) attaches to the body. There are 17 muscle groups that hold the scapula stable to the body. And as you can imagine, there are lots of ways for those 17 muscle groups to get out of balance. The upper trap, lats, and pecs are the big three movers of the shoulder. And then there are lots of other small muscles mostly designed to stabilize and control movement. The big muscles tend to dominate, especially since those are the muscles people focus on when they lift weights. This often happens at the expense of the lower/middle trap and rhomboids.

The key to healthy shoulders is establishing a neuromuscular connection to improve the quality of movement and balance around the joint. This happens by making sure the big muscles work in conjunction with all the smaller muscles that are often ignored.When imbalance exists, the body tries to compensate by favoring certain movement patterns. It’s a short-term stability fix, but at a cost: over time, normal movement becomes increasingly compromised and overuse injuries become more likely, potentially initiating an injury cascade through other parts of the shoulder and body.

What should climbers specifically be most aware of when it comes to shoulders?

Matt: Unlike other sports that stress the shoulder through repetitive motion, climbing puts a lot of load on the shoulders. Repetitive motion athletes tend to focus on pre-workout shoulder movements to establish healthy neuromuscular function. Climbers, on the other hand, really need to focus on improving blood flow in the joint and promoting tendon recovery. This is best accomplished after a climbing workout with Crossover Symmetry’s Recovery Program. It’s similar to the pre-workout program, but with a longer eccentric contraction. The whole thing takes about seven minutes and is designed to get blood in the joint, resolve inflammation, and then stimulate tissue recovery.

Thomas: Maintaining healthy, balanced shoulders and preventing injuries is key to success as a rock climber. You're asking very small muscles in your shoulders to do a lot of heavy lifting and the risk of shoulder injuries in climbers is exceptionally high. Avoiding a major injury where you would be sidelined three to six months is more important than any single aspect of training.

Top 3 Crossover Symmetry Exercises

Crossover Symmetry

If you’re thinking about setting a goal for the New Year, consider using our new Crossover Symmetry resistance bands. These bands are now located in the lifting area for you to use daily for shoulder activation and shoulder recovery.  They are moveable and easy to use with an instructional poster hanging for your convenience. The bands come in several resistances to suit your needs.

Let’s plan on going to the doctor and sports specialists less this year, and set a goal to activate and strengthen the shoulders better and more often.

You will also find the Crossover Hip and Core System available for your use as well. The “hip halo” can be found near the bands (next to the stereo). This is an excellent tool for hip, core, and back activation, strengthening and recovery.

Check out the Crossover Symmetry Blog for some great info at or visit the general website   at

We are looking forward to hearing your feedback on this product!


/by CrossFitSours:

Bands crossover symmetry

Crossover Symmetry In-Depth Review

We review free products that we receive and participate in affiliate programs, where we may be compensated for items purchased through links from our site.

See our disclosures page for more information.

Crossover Symmetryis a rotator cuff/scapular activation and strength program designed to improve overhead performance and increase strength and mobility. Through testing of the program over the course of a year, we can confidently say that Crossover Symmetry met and exceeded our expectations and we recommend it to everyone who desires healthier shoulders and better performance.


Crossover Symmetry
Crossover Symmetry Shoulder System
Crossover Symmetry Shoulder System

The Crossover Symmetry System is an advanced, fully customizable shoulder health and performance system that’s unlike anything else in the industry. Developed by leading physical therapists, coaches and athletes, this dynamic training and recovery method can help bulletproof the shoulders against future injury, eliminate post-workout aches and pains, and maximize performance in a wide range of athletic pursuits. There is no training kit better equipped for developing the mechanics needed to quickly eliminate shoulder pain and develop strength and mobility overhead.


Shop deal

Why you should be doing scapular activation and strengthening

Do you have pain in your shoulders?

Do you desire to prevent injury to your shoulder girdle?

Do you want to perform better?

Do you own a pair of shoulders?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should be strengthening your rotator cuff. Many people complain of shoulder ache and pain, yet continue to jump on the bench press and expect different results.

Here's something to think about, before you jump into any training session or game are you properly warming up? And I'm not just talking about doing a couple of toe touches and calling it a day. If you want to increase your performance than you not only need to be attempting to activate the musculature that will be used in your sport, but you need to be strengthening those parts of the body. And this isn't just for athletes.

We live in a society of hunch backs. Everywhere you turn you see people with hunched shoulders over their computer or their phone. If you expect to hold an unnatural position for hours at a time during the day, then expect to need some maintenance. strengthening the shoulder girdle and activating the scapula before activity will help you perform better and longer. Who doesn't want that?

Crossover Symmetry Review

First off, something that I feel must be said is Crossover Symmetry is not the only way to strengthen the shoulder girdle. You could go grab some bands that you use for benching and squatting and startpulling and pushing against those. However, Crossover Symmetry is one of the only programs designed specifically for athletes who play baseball, basketball, football, and compete in CrossFit.

Crossover Symmetry also features some excellent pieces of equipment to go along with the program.

I think too many people look at the price of Crossover Symmetry and believe they are paying a premium price for some really lovely bands. Although bands are certainly included, what's more important is the program you receive with the bands. Many companies make bands, few make detailed programs on how to use the bands in an effective manner.

Let's start by taking a look at the bands.

Now, it must be said that I have a lot of experience with resistance bands. In fact, we at GGR were able to test nearly all of the top companies with the best tube resistance bands and wrote on our findings. There are a lot of options for bands, but what must be understood is that many companies are using the same factories and merely rebranding them.

Crossover Symmetry is using some of the better bands in the industry. The first thing you notice about Crossover Symmetry Cords if you've never seen them is the dark grey sleeves that wrap the bands to protect the user in case of breakage. It must be understood that bands do break. No matter how good of rubber is used in the bands, after enough time and use they will snap, and you definitely do not want them to snap in your face (there have actually been people who have lost eyesight because of this.)

In addition to the sleeve protecting the user from breakage, the jacket also protects the bands from UV light. UV light is known to degrade rubber, so keeping the bands shielded is a great thing.

There are three types of rubber that companies use in creating their bands – thermoplastic rubber, extruded rubber, or dipped latex. Dipped latex is often the best option due to its ability to retain its shape and for its durability. This is the rubber Crossover Symmetry Cords use and is one reason they can ask the price they do.

The Crossover Symmetry Cords 2.0 also feature something else that's unusual, and that is plastic handles instead of the traditional foam handles. In all honesty, I actually like the plastic handles. At first, I thought the handle change was just another way to shave cost, but after using them, I actually prefer them. In our research, these are some of the only bands using a plastic handle.

This said, one improvement I think could take place is to add knurling to the handles as a custom option. Crossover Symmetry markets to the CrossFit community pretty heavily and not only would this feel great, but it could be pretty popular. Just imagine, mini barbells in your hands!

Finally, there are a few different ways to attach the bands for use. I prefer using hitch pins (purchases separately) and placing them on my power rack uprights. However, the options that come with the bands are good as well. There is a door harness that wraps around a standard door or some straps to wrap around a post. The bands also have carabiners attached to them so you can secure them to a chain link fence (popular among baseball players.)

So, the bands are pretty great, but you in addition to the bands you also get the Crossover Symmetry Program. Now, unfortunately, I can't just post the program and talk about how great it is (you have to buy it, bummer I know.) But, what I can say is that after using the program for over a year, I have no pain in my shoulders, and overall feel much more stable in all overhead lifts.

One of the newer additions to the Crossover Symmetry package is the online Training Zone. If you purchase a package, you get access to the Training Zone which has videos and individual programs. For instance, if you golf, there is a specific and tailored program for golfers. This is a pretty cool feature as they continue to add more programs and content.

Overall, Crossover Symmetry features great bands with an even better program. Honestly, if you have any pain in your shoulders or want to strengthen them, then you just need to buy this program. Yes, I'd like to see it a bit cheaper, but I haven't found anything that compares.

Suggested Improvements

The Crossover Symmetry Program is great, but there are a couple of things we'd like to see improved.

The first thing is the price. There is only one way to purchase the program, and that is by buying a complete package that also includes bands. I'd like there to be a way to purchase only the program for people who already have bands or want to use different bands. This could lower the cost and make it more accessible for people. I truly believe in the program, and because of that, I'd like to see it in more people's hands.

The other improvement I'd like to see is more of a fun idea, and that is as I mentioned earlier, knurled handles. It wouldn't make a big performance difference, but it would be a cool option for CrossFit Gyms.

Full Rating

Crossover Symmetry Shoulder System

Effectiveness – 4.8

Crossover Symmetryis a rotator cuff/scapular activation and strength program designed to improve overhead performance and increase strength and mobility. Through testing of the program over the course of a year, we can confidently say that Crossover Symmetry met and exceeded our expectations and we recommend it to everyone who desires healthier shoulders and better performance.

Where to Purchase


Crossover Symmetry
Crossover Symmetry Shoulder System
Crossover Symmetry Shoulder System

The Crossover Symmetry System is an advanced, fully customizable shoulder health and performance system that’s unlike anything else in the industry. Developed by leading physical therapists, coaches and athletes, this dynamic training and recovery method can help bulletproof the shoulders against future injury, eliminate post-workout aches and pains, and maximize performance in a wide range of athletic pursuits. There is no training kit better equipped for developing the mechanics needed to quickly eliminate shoulder pain and develop strength and mobility overhead.


Shop deal

Further reading

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Barbell Logic Online Coaching In-Depth Review by Coop

Barbell Logic,formerly Starting Strength Online Coaching is an online coaching program that utilizes Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength Book as a basis for its programming. After testing the programming over 90 days, I not only hit lifetime bests in every lift, I greatly enjoyed the entire experience. We highly recommend SSOC to any trainee, especially garage gym owners, looking to increase strength. Read more

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100+ CrossFit WODs for Hypertrophy by Coop

These 100+ workouts add volume to your training, target increased muscle size and set you up for getting stronger. Read more

Sorinex Belt Squat In-Depth Review Cover Image
Sorinex Belt Squat In-Depth Review by Coop

The Sorinex Belt Squat Machine is one of the premier belt squats currently on the market. It's undoubtedly one of the largest belt squat machines, but if you have the space and money, it's an outstandingly versatile machine. Squats, push-ups, upperback work, and more can all be performed on this piece of equipment Read more

The Best Ellipticals for Home Gyms in 2021 Cover Image
The Best Ellipticals for Home Gyms in 2021 by Coop

For a great cardio workout that’s easy on the joints, the elliptical machine tops the list. Running on pavement or even the best treadmill can be problematic for many people because of the pounding it creates on knees and hips. Using an elliptical trainer forces the body into more of a gliding pattern as opposed to picking up the feet and putting them down on a hard surface.I personally tested some of the best ellipticals on the market to determine which could work best for you, based on your needs. While these are often large and expensive machines, they do offer significant benefits for those looking for a low-impact workout at home. Also, the best fitness trackers on the market today have a setting specifically for elliptical workouts, so you can sync your progress.Below are my recommendations for the top ellipticals you can buy right now. Read more

Crossover Symmetry Review ! - Shoulder, Hip \u0026 Core Systems

You can do push-ups for days in a wod, but when you jump onto the rings, you crumble instantly.
You squat 400 pounds, yet when you put 135 overhead, the bar wobbles uncontrollably.
You can rep out push presses at 95 pounds no problem, but try using 35-pound dumbbells, and what the ***?
Bar muscle ups? Yeah, okay. Ring muscle ups? No chance.

**Double tap if this sounds like you**

What is happening in these cases? Do you always have an off day when it’s DBs instead of barbells? Will ring dips just forever evade you?

No, none of this is true. You’re running into the concept of stability, which is related to but distinct from strength. Just because your muscles are capable of generating enough power to move a given amount of pounds, doesn’t mean your body understands how to keep that amount of weight still, or stable. You might have experienced this if you somehow completed a crazy lift, but it was sloppy and marginally embarrassing. Or maybe you picked a weight for your WOD you thought was moderate, but since you can’t keep the weight stable, you expended an unnecessary amount of energy on each rep and fatigued after the first round … FRUSTRATION! In the worst case scenario, you could get injured lifting a weight that your muscles can handle but the rest of your body cannot.

So how do we work on stability? At EVF, we actually get quite a lot of stability work. Any time you see dumbbells, unilateral (single side) elements, strict gymnastics, rings, banded exercises — these are all helping you build stability. Yet, even with all of this practice, most of us also grew up in a culture that distinctly values pure strength over stability. Bottom line: all of us can stand to work a little bit more on our stability.

Have you ever seen that very official looking, colorful set of bands hanging from the rig at both EVF locations? That is Crossover Symmetry, and if you haven’t already, you should get acquainted.

What is Crossover Symmetry?

Crossover Symmetry is a simple system specifically designed to make developing shoulder stability easy, effective, and practical in less than 5 minutes a day. The bands come with an instruction card, so all you have to do is follow along. The movements are not challenging and can be easily modified based on your level of experience and comfort. Crossover Symmetry is designed to do two major things.

First, it strengthens your stabilizer muscles. In simple terms, your shoulder stabilizers are tiny muscles that help keep your scapula in place. Strong stabilizers allow your bigger muscles (like pecs, deltoids, and lats) to do the work they’re supposed to do, i.e. actually move the heavy weight overhead or propel your body up to the bar. If your stabilizers are weak, your bigger muscles have to do extra work — either to do the stabilizing instead or because your unstable scapula makes them work from a compromised position. Best case scenario, this leads to loss of strength. Worst case scenario, this leads to injury.

Second, it teaches your brain how to express strength. The movement patterns we do in CrossFit are complex. They require your brain to send fast and powerful signals to multiple muscle groups. Then, those muscle groups need to work together to accomplish complicated tasks like Olympic lifts and kipping gymnastics. The Crossover symmetry exercises are intentionally sequenced to layer the movement patterns in the right order for going overhead. By consistently practicing the exercises, you are training the brain on what muscles to activate, how, and in what order. The more practice you get, the faster and more powerfully your brain will be able to send these signals to your muscles.

By strengthening your stabilizers and training your neurological pathways, you are putting your body in a better, safer, and stronger position to express the strength that you develop every day in class.

Crossover Symmetry Exercises 101

The Crossover Symmetry system comes with a very simple instruction card. It even includes pictures! You don’t need any rigorous training to figure out what to do. That said, here are a few basic principles to help you get started.

Setup and Posture

Set your bands up to the proper height. About half of the exercises will call for the bands to be at eye level, and the other half will call for the bands to be at your knees. Crisscross the bands. The band on the left goes in your right hand, and the band on your right goes in your left hand. (Get it? “Crossover” Symmetry!)

Establish an athletic position before every rep. Your feet should be approximately shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and torso upright. Your hips should be back, like in the receiving position for a power clean.

Brace your core. Crossover symmetry is deliberately designed to be executed while standing. Research shows a strong correlation between core stability and shoulder stability, and the standing position requires you to activate your core similarly to how you will when hanging or putting weight overhead.

Finally, bring your shoulder blades back and down, while keeping your core tight. In this position, you should feel rock solid!

Selecting the Right Bands

Choose two bands to use for your exercises: one “heavy” and one “light.” The instruction card includes guidelines for which bands to choose. If you’re just starting off, follow the “novice” guidelines: yellow is your “heavy” and green is your “light” band. As you get used to the exercises, progress up to red for “heavy” and purple for “light.” Most of us don’t need to advance beyond these resistance levels. Remember, Crossover Symmetry is about training stabilizer muscles — no one needs to PR their banded reverse fly!


Choose one of the three major Crossover Symmetry programs. Each program includes a sequence of exercises, which are designed to be performed in order.

Activation: A warm-up for your shoulders
The focus is on getting your brain to activate the right muscles in the right order, which improves your ability to use them in your upcoming workout. Perform 5-8 reps of each exercise listed. For each rep, hold the finish position for 2 seconds before returning to start.

Recovery: A cool-down for your shoulders
The focus is on slow, eccentric contraction, which promotes increased blood flow, reduced inflammation, and tendon health. Perform 10 reps of each exercise listed. For each rep, perform a 6-second negative back to the starting position.

Strength (“Iron Scap”): A more rigorous program to improve strength and dynamic stability in your shoulders
It can be difficult to maintain the right posture through some of the exercises, so you should only advance to this once you are comfortable with the Activation and Recovery series. Perform 10 reps each of each exercise listed. Each exercise has a different prescription in terms of holds and negatives.


Crossover Symmetry is most effective when performed regularly and consistently. If you do it sporadically before some classes, you’ll still probably feel better for the subsequent workout, but for true, long-term benefits you should perform it consistently. Pick a frequency that seems reasonable to you, and be consistent with whatever you choose.

Crossover Symmetry recommends that you do the exercises 2-3 times per day, 5 days per week for optimal benefits. Once you get used to it, this could be easily accomplished by using it for 5 minutes before and after every class. Like any new habit, this may take time to build. A good starting place could be doing the Activation or Recovery series three times a week before or after class. Once this becomes an easy habit, you can either add days or start doing it both before and after your workout.

Increasing your stability is just like improving mobility or tackling a tough skill: consistency is key. Pop in a few minutes early or stay a few minutes after class, and your shoulders (and your lifts!) will thank you.

Questions? Email [email protected]


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