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Improve Your Front Rack Position for Better Squats and Cleans!

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Improve Your Front Rack Position for Better Squats and Cleans!

Why Front Squat?

Yes the traditional back squat is a great exercise, you can even chuck loads of plates on, play loud music, grunt a bit and put up something impressive!

However, the Front Squat has several benefits! For starters it is a more quad dominant movement and let’s face it, nobody wants to be this guy…

Generally, you can achieve a greater and safer depth to your squats due to the bar position. With the bar on the front of your shoulders it provides a counter-balance as well as engaging your anterior core allowing you to better ‘sit back’ into your squats. This engagement of the anterior core helps us into a posterior pelvic tilt giving us better ribcage and diaphragmatic positioning (which if you know anything about us we value highly at ProSport).

Also, the front squat requires the lats to lengthen as the shoulder flexes and externally rotates. This further stops the anterior pelvic tilt people utilise in the back squat to compensate for poor core stability with larger weights.


Requirements for a stable front rack

  • Adequate Thoracic Extension
  • Adequate Humeral Flexion/External Rotation
  • Adequate Wrist and Finger Extension

Front Rack Variations (The best and the WORST)

This is the ideal position for the Front Rack

The bar is gripped by the fingers with the shoulder flexed to 90 degrees and the elbows up. The bar is held on the ‘shelf’ created by the deltoids. It is important to remember that the weight is NOT supported but the hand and wrists it they are merely there to maintain the position of the bar on the deltoids which are supporting the weight.

This position is gives the most control and is easy to get out of in the event you should fail a lift and need to ‘dump’ the bar.

Ideally all of the fingers would be gripping the bar, however, if you do not yet have the available external rotation to achieve this you can simply just have the first 2 or 3 in contact.


Ideal Front Rack Position


If you are as yet unable to achieve the position above, then this is a great compromise that can be used whilst you attempt to achieve that mobility.

Looping a pair of lifting straps around the bar can act as a handle. This reduces the need for the combined elbow flexion and wrist extension that makes this position difficult to achieve.

It further allows bar to still be held on the shelf created by the deltoids and again makes it easy to ‘dump’ the bar if necessary.

This is the absolute WORST position most people use for front squats!

The cross arm grip can be used, however, all too often it is performed incorrectly. The problem with this grip is rather than the bar being supported on the deltoids, most people have the bar directly over their AC Joint. As if loading your AC Joint wasn’t already a dumb idea with the cross arm grip you’re adding an element of internal rotation and compounding the risk of impingmenet issues.

Furthermore this grip provides less control of the bar and generally results in a lower elbow position. This lower elbow position leads to the upper back flexing as the weights get heavier.

Also this position leaves the lats in a shortened position at the humerus allowing them to contract as lumbar extensors and pull us into anterior pelvic tilt.



So What Can I Do?

As said above thoracic extension is necessary for a good Front Rack position.

Including some simple thoracic spine mobilisations into your warm up can be very helpful! These can be performed with a foam roller or a bench!

With the foam roller all you need to do is lie on the foam roller with it placed horizontally across your upper back. With your arms folded across your chest inhale as you extend over the roller and exhale as you return to the start position. Work up and down your upper back 2-3 times. As shown in the first picture on the right.

Alternatively you can perform the bench mobilisation. Kneeling in front of a bench with your elbows on the bench (holding a pipe or dowel helps keep the shoulders externally rotated). Rock your weight back towards your heels bringing your head down between your arms. As shown in the picture far right.



Adequate shoulder external rotation is also key to a good front rack position.

People love training their ‘beach muscles’ and as impressive as a big chest is, they often neglect the opposing muscles. The pectorals are major movers at the shoulder so your small rotator cuff trying to fight them pulling you into internal rotation can only end one way.

Foam rolling/Trigger point release of these can help achieve the external rotation needed. Simply lie on your stomach with a tennis ball (hockey ball if you’re man enough) under your pec. Move around until you find a sore spot and stay there for a while until the soreness dissipates! Perform both sides and use this as part of your warm up too!

Still Having Trouble?

If you continue to have problems don’t worry a sports massage from ProSport Physiotherapy may be all you need!

We always assess first to find the true cause of any limitations in your movement or performance , addressing these before they become problematic is THE key to longevity in all of your activities! We will also ensure you know exactly what to do to prevent these muscles from overworking and limiting you again!

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