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Front Rack Frustration?

Pain and/or difficulty in the front rack position is a common theme, especially amongst beginner lifters. As there are numerous faults that could be occurring, let's discuss some of the upper body mobility restrictions that could be limiting a perfect front rack position.


Very commonly, tight lats, decreased thoracic spine mobility, and/or a lack of wrist extension are what limit someone from a comfortable and proper front rack position.

If you have tight lats, your ability to put your hands outside of your shoulders and keep your elbows high in the front rack position can be greatly limited.

Furthermore, a lack of wrist extension will make it difficulty for you to simultaneously maintain good and comfortable hand contact on the bar while keeping your elbows high and parallel to the floor.

Why Does it Matter?

The faults mentioned above primarily make it difficult for you to keep your elbows high and parallel to the ground. When this happens, your ability to keep your trunk and upper body in an upright position is greatly reduced. Especially with heavy weight, this will drive your chest and trunk forward, forcing the weight further from your body, and causing you to have to dump the weight and fail the lift.

What To Do About It?

First and foremost, you would benefit from an evaluation by a Physical Therapist and/or movement specialist who can assess your deficiencies, analyze any faulty movement patterns, and optimally address your issues with a personalized mobility and corrective exercise program.

Until then, think about modifying movements and/or scaling weights to allow you to continue to strengthen with front rack position lifts. Here are some modifications you can try while you work on your front rack mobility:

1) Modify your cleans/thrusters/shoulder to overhead with one of these variations:

- Dumbbell Cleans/Thrusters/Shoulder to Overhead

-Kettlebell CleansThrusters/Shoulder to Overhead

-Sandbag CleansThrusters/Shoulder to Overhead

-DBall Ground to Shoulder

-Med Ball Cleans

2) Modify your front squat with one of these variations:

-Frankenstein Squats

-Front Squat with straps

-Safety Bar Squats

-Kettlebell Goblet Squats

-Double Dumbbell or Kettlebell Front Squats

Written by: Marissa Oxenford, PT, DPT, CMFA-cert, CF-L1 Trainer, CPT

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