Improving front rack position

Improving the front rack position can help us in so many movements. This page shows a number of stretches that will improve shoulder mobility. and help prevent injury.

This is the second part of the shoulder, expanding on a previous post about 4 important shoulder positions that we should all be aiming to achieve. It’s quite important that you can find these positions comfortably, especially under load, as it will help to limit the risk of injury but also make it easier for you to transition out of it.

So, we’re all now great with our over head position. Can you now transition back down to a front rack? à la thrusters, hand stand push ups or catching the wall ball into the squat. Front rack is the most complexed out of the 4 positions as there are so many structures feeding into that position.

With Front rack most of us struggle with finding that shoulder external rotation to get the hands outside of the shoulders while keeping the elbows high. This helps line the hands into a stable platform for the bar.

The forearms are often tight making it hard for the wrists to fully extend. How many of us get achy wrists after front squats? Create that stable platform with good wrist extension.

Our triceps can also restrict the elbow from going into full flexion. And finally good Thoracic mobility as mentioned in the over head position. It will impact achieving extension and getting the maximum lift through the elbows.

Below are a series of mobility exercises to improve that Front Rack position.


Stick external rotation stretch – Grab a stick, hold it outside the arm. Lift your elbow and pull the stick from underneath your arm, across the body. This will pull your hand out further and you will feel the shoulder wind up. Hold for 1 minute. To take this further by repeating a hold-relax method, pulling the stick inwards for 5 seconds then relaxing further into external rotation .

Banded External rotation – Put the elbow into the band, take the hand on the inside of the band and hold on. Keep the elbow close to your head and drive the arm pit forwards. Hold the stretch for 2 minutes.

Wrist Flexor stretch – Kneeling on the floor, with palms facing away, put your hands down on the floor and take the wrists into extension, moving your body backwards. Hold for 2 minutes. Next get the band and place the hand in the same position. Have the band pull away while doing small oscillating wrist extensions into the stretch. Repeat for 1-2 minutes.

Triceps smash – Excuse the facial expressions in this video, I don’t always look that way! Resting the tricep on the bar while flexing and extending the elbow. Start at the triceps tendon (above the elbow) repeat 10-12 reps then move higher up the muscle. To increase the pain….I mean load, use the band to get fascia tacked down to the bar.

Thoracic Mobility as mentioned above it’s important to extend at the Thoracic below are two basics.

Improving overhead position

Often we are restricted with overhead movements as it is an action we don’t use often enough. Try these exercises to increase movement if your tight reaching above your head.

So from the last blog we’ve learnt there are 4 positions of high torque when we wind up the shoulder capsule and surrounding muscles. By utilising these positions they will produce better pathways to move from and minimise the risk of injury.

We’ll start off with the over head positions. In every day life we don’t take our hands above our shoulders often enough. It’s understandable the shoulder will feel tight in these positions. But with a little regular mobilising we should be able to feel more comfortable holding our arms up there.

In the shoulder we have big internal rotators and some small external rotators which can cause a bit of an imbalance. Both internal and external rotation needs to be stretched to achieve full over head movement.

The other thing restricting our overhead movements is thoracic mobility. Another area that often gets stiff with a sedentary life. Additional extension at the Thoracic region without hyper extending at the lower back will give us better shoulder flexion.

Below are some basic mobility drills to improve Thoracic extension.

Foam Roller – Slowly moving over the foam roller, trying to extend over the top, keeping steady breathing throughout. Try to keep the neck in a stable position avoiding hyper-extending, also avoid rolling into the Lumbar spine.  Try this for up to 2 minutes. Once you find some stiffness, stay on that point and lift your arms straight above your head. 1 minute.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BT2yyupFzCP/?taken-by=fundamentalphysio

T spine extension – Kneeling, put both elbows up on the step/box. Drop the chest down to the ground. Feeling a stretch at the Thoracic spine and lats. Hold the stretch for 2 minutes. Try to stay strong at the lumbar spine avoiding extending.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BT2zxQgFaYu/?taken-by=fundamentalphysio

Below are just some stretches you can do to access both the internal and external rotation restrictions at the shoulder.

Pec major stretch – Using a resistance band, taking up the slack with the hand behind, turn your body away, producing a large stretch in the chest. Hold for 2 minutes.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BT20WulFJyD/?taken-by=fundamentalphysio

Under arm stretch – Attach a light resistance band to the opposite frame. Hold the other end with your hand behind the neck, pull into the opposite rack and drive the armpit into the poll. You’ll get a good triceps and lats stretch. 2 minutes.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BT20x4YFGYp/?taken-by=fundamentalphysio

Infraspinatus LaX ball smash – Direct the ball into the shoulder blade. With the pressure, take the hand across the body and over head. 1 minute each direction.

Does your shoulder get the green light?

Are you able to achieve full shoulder range and move efficiently with speed and load. Essential to preventing injury and getting the most out of your training.

The shoulder is such an interesting part of the body. It’s a joint that’s suspended by muscles and fascia and its only point of contact with the rest of the skeletal system is a dinky little joint at the collar bone. Which means that our musculature is doing all the work to maintain stability while moving through huge ranges.

Underneath the layers of muscle, the shoulder has a capsule and it has four positions where it winds up and reaches its highest levels of tension and stability. If we can achieve these positions from start to finish when transitioning through movement, particularly under load we’ll have less chance of injury.


  1. The first movement being overhead a combination of external rotation and flexion at the shoulder and protraction of the scapula (moving forward around the rib cage). Examples of this being the start position of chest to bar pull up or end position of push press. Our arms should get past our ears with the elbow pits facing each other.
  1. Next the front rack position is also flexion and external rotation of the shoulder. Obvious examples are a front squat or the bottom of a hand stand push up. This is elbows up to shoulder level, with the hands outside the shoulders and palms turned up.
  1. Hang position is a full internal rotation of the shoulder. This can be seen when we clean or Snatch. Elbows out to the side at shoulder level and hands down to floor, aiming for the forearms to be in line with the body.
  1. The press position consists of internal rotation and extension. Seen with the start of a bench press or bottom of a ring dip. The elbows are taken past the body as far as possible with hands at chest level.

Failing to maintain shapes of stability becomes more difficult to transition and finish safely to the next position. Make sure you have competency in all 4 positions. If you’re struggling with a position you need to be mobilising. If you’re having pain with these positions you should have it assessed to avoid being side lined.