Achieving a good front rack position is definitely a challenge for some people but reverting to crossing your arms over to hold the bar in front of you won’t help. You need to understand why you may not be able to achieve the position and what you can do about it!
What do I need for a good front rack?
A good front rack position requires not only good flexibility/mobility around the shoulder (glenohumeral joint) but good strength and stability of your mid-thoracic (middle back) and scapulothoracic joint. Ideally, the bar should be resting on the front of the shoulders (anterior deltoid muscles) with the hands positioned OUTSIDE of the shoulders (shoulders in external rotation) and sitting in the fingers. The elbows should be pointed straight forward with the upper arms parallel to the floor.
Too often I see athletes with their hands inside the shoulders (shoulders in internal rotation), the bar sitting in mid air and the wrists cocked at some weird angle. Not only is it a bit painful to look at, but extremely taxing on the upper body and very inefficient.
If you struggle getting into a good front rack, not only will your front squat suffer, but also your cleans, thrusters, shoulder press, push press and push/split jerk. So it’s in your best interests to spend some quality time getting it right.
How to fix your front rack?
If you spend your days clacking away on a computer, you already know how tight the front of your body can become. The pec major/minor, upper trapezius, levator scapulae and scalenes all have a tendancy to become tight, so make sure to work on lengthening them. In addition, the muscles that internally rotate the shoulder – latissimus dorsi, subscapularis and teres major will need some attention. The triceps and forearm flexors also need to be kept flexible so don’t neglect them either.
Keep in mind, to improve that front rack position, it’s important that you use mobility that closely replicates the movement you are trying to achieve. The best one (I think) is a banded rack position stretch, which is found in the MobilizeMe App available in the AppStore or Google Play.
How to perform Banded Rack Position Stretch:
- Put a band around a pole around head height.
- Put the band around the arm at the elbow and face away from the pole. Your shoulder should be flexed to 90 degrees and the elbow bent.
- Reach around and grab the band from the inside to outside so your hand is facing UPWARDS.
- Lift the arm up so the elbow is pointing to the ceiling. Keep ribs locked down with abdomen tight. Hold 2-3 minutes.
Another stretch in the MobilizeMe App that works well to improve your front rack is the Banded Inferior Capsule Release (see photo on right).
Here’s some stability to go along with your mobility exercises:
The other area to work on is muscle strength of the middle/low trapezius and rhomboids. If your posture is less than ideal, these muscles will be overstretched and weak. Add in exercises like bent over rows (dumbell or barbell) and do Bulletproof Shoulders 2-3x/week minimum as part of your warm-up before shoulder-dominant workouts.
If you’ve tried all this and more, MobilizeMe Physiotherapy on the Gold Coast is your go-to for shoulder problems! We offer a FREE INITIAL ASSESSMENT * for new clients. Head to www.mobilizemephysio.com to book your appointment today. (*with your Private Health)