Having a strong and stable front rack position is vital if you want to perform well in CrossFit. So many exercises require that, well, your front rack doesn’t suck.
How do you know if your front rack position is lacking?
These are all signs that your front rack position needs some work. They show that either you lack the mobility to get into the right position, or the stability to be strong in that position.
Here’s what you need to do to fix it.
I’ve put together a Front Rack Mobility Warm-up Program that addresses the main problem areas I see among CrossFitters. This program will help you get into a better position (mobility) and feel stronger (stability) with exercises such as front squats, cleans, and S2OH. Plus a million others.
Foam roll your upper back: a lack of mobility in your upper back means you won’t be able to achieve a nice upright position. This means that the weight is more likely to fall forward. So, rather than you just moving up and down, you’re now trying not to move forward and backward.
Spending time foam rolling your upper back will allow you to stay more upright in the bottom of the squat and achieve a stronger position. You don’t have to spend forever with this exercise. Small bouts of about 30” every day will yield incredible results.
Foam roll lats and triceps: tightness in these muscles make it VERY hard to get your elbows in the right position. Like I said above, one of the common issues is that your elbows drop (point down). One of the terms we use to explain the front rack position is that you create a ‘shelf’ with your arms and shoulders. The ‘shelf’ is where the bar rests. When your elbows aren’t able to get in the right position, your shelf is faulty.
Same thing as your upper back. Release the tightness in the muscles and you’ll be able to achieve a better position. It doesn’t have to take forever. 30” a day, every day is better than 10’ once a week.
Wrist extension mobilization: if you aren’t able to extend your wrist enough, then you won’t be able to hold on to the bar. This is that last-ditch effort that you have to be able to maintain a good bar position.
This is a great exercise especially if you’re dealing with wrist pain!
Using a band will help put your wrist into a more comfortable position. It actually moves the joints in your wrist which gives them more space to move. More space = less pinchy.
Aim for about 20-30 reps with light to moderate tension in the band. You have some freedom with this exercise too. Some people find more relief and benefit when their fingers face forward, others prefer them to face backward. Find which you prefer and stick with it.
External rotation mobilization: to be able to get into the front rack position, your hands have to be outside of your shoulders. That movement is external rotation (ER). So, a lack of ER range means you’re putting your shoulders and elbows into compromising positions. This is also the reason why one elbow points in a different direction than the other, or the bar sits at an angle.
Massaging your chest and shoulder with a ball is fantastic at releasing muscle tightness that affects your range of motion. But, sometimes, you need to actually mobilize the joint to see improvements (just like the wrist mobilization).
Hold the dowel in the same position you see in the video. Next, make sure your arm is in the same position you would hold the barbell in the front rack position. Gently press the dowel up and away to move your shoulder into an externally rotated position.
If you feel like you’re not able to move very much, grab a ball and dig into your chest and shoulder. Then try it again. If you still feel like your shoulder is being held in place with superglue, try more repetitions and see if it loosens up. Remember, keep it gentle.
Aim for about 20-30 repetitions. Over the course of a few weeks, you can try to increase how much pressure you use to achieve the range of motion.
Lat and upper back mobilization: three birds one stone. With this exercise, you’re able to stretch your lats and triceps and mobilize your upper back. When done AFTER you’ve already foam rolled your lats/triceps and upper back, this should be the final thing you need to feel like you’re ready to go.
Hold the dowel in the same position you would hold a barbell in the front rack position. Bring your hands as far back as they can and at the same time, drop your chest to the ground. Sit there and hold, move in and out of the position. Whatever you do, breathe.
Aim for about 20-30 repetitions or until you feel like to position is comfortable aka you don’t have to hold your breath or wince in discomfort.
These simple exercises address the common issues CrossFitters have with the front rack position. When done BEFORE the WOD they’ll help you move better and feel better with any exercise that uses the front rack.