Overcoming Front Rack Mobility Issues

Inadequate front rack flexibility can slow progress, lead to injury, and make cleans, front squats and most overhead lifts feel like hell on earth. The front rack is often an athlete’s worst enemy, and as a result, most will shy away from any movement that incorporates it.

The alternative, while certainly more difficult, is to face your fears, let go of your pride, and take the necessary time to correct the position. No, it won’t be easy or quick, but it will improve if you work at it. Look at it this way, if you neglect the work involved, you’ll undoubtedly suffer immense pain every time you front squat, sounds awful right? Or even worse, you will avoid front squats and cleans all together, ultimately missing out on all the gainz these exercises can and will deliver. But if we work to address the issues now, taking the time to purposefully and rigorously work through them, we can end in a better position than we began, pun intended.

While there are many ways to address front rack positional limitations, the exercises we’ve curated below represent an efficient and effective warm up that takes only 12-15 minutes total. Using this warm up 3-5 times throughout the week, specifically on days where you perform exercises that utilize the front rack, will ensure you are strong, flexible, and comfortable.

Mobility Exercise #1

Banded Front Rack Stretch

  1. Loop one end of a heavy resistance band around an object mounted a few feet above your shoulders.
  2. Place the other end of the band around your elbow and create tension by moving away from the mount.
  3. Grab the band with a full grip and try to mimic the actual front rack position as close as possible.
  4. Keep your elbow tucked in close to your head while gradually increase the bands tension.
  5. Maintain the stretch for 30-60 seconds then switch to the opposite arm.

Mobility Exercise #2

Triceps Barbell Smash

  1. Stand directly in front of the rack with your shoulders squared.
  2. Grasp the barbell with one hand and set your opposite arm on the bar with your palm facing up.
  3. Start with the bar near your elbow and gradually rotate your arm back and forth while applying pressure into the bar. (Expect this to be uncomfortable.)
  4. Continue to roll out the meat of your tricep with slow rotations, only moving up the arm once you feel relief in the tissue. (This can be a slow process for heavily muscled individuals, so take your time.)
  5. Maintain the stretch for 30-60 seconds then switch to the opposite arm.

Mobility Exercise #3

Lats Foam Roll

  1. Place a foam roller directly under your armpit, extend your arm and keep your thumb facing straight up.
  2. Try to elevate yourself so the majority of your weight is resting on the roller.
  3. Slowly roll up and down your lat while moving slightly back and forth to ensure all tissue is addressed.
  4. Only move further down your side once the immediate tissue finds relief.
  5. Continue until you roll the entire lat, starting at the armpit and finishing at your hip.
  6. Spend at least 45-60 seconds on each side.

Mobility Exercise #4

Front Rack Hold

  1. Un-rack the barbell in the front rack position and walk out as if you were going to perform a front squat.
  2. Attempt to maintain as much of a full grip on the bar as possible.
  3. Try to relax your upper body and control your breathing while simultaneously forcing your elbows up as high as possible.
  4. If flexibility is limited, ask a friend to apply slight pressure upward at the elbows.
  5. Maintain this stretch for 60 seconds.

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