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View Full Version : Getting the bar racked - improvment but still not good


Vic Webster
03-12-2008, 03:41 AM
I've been stretching and practising and yesterday was gym day so I got a few photographs. This is really important to me. My goal is to be able to perform a proper Olympic Clean and Jerk.

I was really surprised at the improvement. Of course I have tried racking the bar before many times with weight but have never succeeded. Well I don't know if you can call this "succeeded", but I'm a lot closer than what I was.

In fact, I think the only problem now is that I can't get my elbows up high. I just can't seem to do it and I have no idea why. When I'm doing my stretches (basically pushing the fingers of one hand back into "rack position" with the other arm) I can get my elbow up easily. But when I try it with the bar I really struggle, and ESPECIALLY as I go lower into the squat. Then it gets really difficult to even keep the bar racked at all.

So, long story short, any other advice?

Yes, the weight is teeny and my form is bad (the weight is teeny because my form is bad!) :)

Thanks guys the advice on this board has helped enormously and the youTube video posted in the other thread was great!

I hope it's okay to start a new thread. I wanted to start a new one because there is new photos now (and I didn't like the title of the old one!) ;)

PS - yeah my wrists are really sore! As well as the tendons in my fingers. But that's expected.

Chris Hitzroth
03-12-2008, 07:21 PM
Your elbows are very wide, much wider than your grip. Bringing your elbows in and getting your upper arms parallel to each other without narrowing your grip will externally rotate your arms and let you trade shoulder and triceps flexibility for wrist flexibility. It will also help get your elbows up.

Vic Webster
03-13-2008, 01:14 AM
Your elbows are very wide, much wider than your grip. Bringing your elbows in and getting your upper arms parallel to each other without narrowing your grip will externally rotate your arms and let you trade shoulder and triceps flexibility for wrist flexibility. It will also help get your elbows up.

Thanks for the tip! That's exactly the kind of advice I was hoping for. I have no coach at all and nobody who knows how to clean, so I am teaching myself.

Thanks again.

Arden Cogar Jr.
03-13-2008, 08:39 PM
Vic,
The above advice is spot on. Bring the elbows in. Try and get your elbows as close together as you can.

The best drill I've found for creating the rack is to have someone stand in front of you and you pretend to strangle them with your thumbs pointing toward the ceiling/roof. Or pretend your walking like Frakenstein. That creates the "rack" or shelf with your front delts. You have to bring your front delts forward, reach forward with your lats and traps, and get your elbows close together.

The next step is finding a way to get your hands on the bar and maintaining some semblence of control. That's an art.

One of the drills I've used to increase my flexibility is to put a big weight on the bar and stand up with it from the rack. Then I have a partner pull up on my elbows to get them higher. Note, you're elbows will need to be a lot closer together than is evidenced by the photos.

Next, as you stand there, likely in pain from the stretch, have your partner provide resistence on the back of forearms as you try to push your elbows even higher. This will cause you to stretch more.

I did this before, during, and after most of my sessions for about three months. I'm a fairly large fellow (with a powerlifting/bodybuilding background) and given that my elbows were at my sides (obliques) during my cleans five months ago, I'm pretty psyched.

Here's one of my recent Tall clean sessions; I'm not saying what I'm doing is right. But it's starting to work for me. I've got a long way to go and I'm going to keep on drilling the movements from the top down until I get them right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLfY47zMPaY YOU MUST ENSURE YOU ANNOTATE ALL LINKS WHETHER WORK AND FAMILY SAFE.

One of the keys to remember when front squatting or doing squat cleans is to "lead with the elbows" "out of the hole." In other words, when you're at the bottom position, the first thing you should think about is pulling your elbows as high as you can and leading the weight out of the bottom of the squat position with your elbows.

Hope this helps?

All the best,
Arden

Lincoln Brigham
03-13-2008, 09:14 PM
You also must let the shoulder joint move forward. The elbows won't be able to move up if the shoulder blades are pinched together; they'll be locked down.

Bottom position in the front squat/clean:
http://crossfitsedona.typepad.com/Images/FrontSquatRackPositionOverheadAdrienneSm.jpg YOU MUST ENSURE YOU ANNOTATE ALL LINKS WHETHER WORK AND FAMILY SAFE.
Notice at the angle of the shoulder seams on the t-shirt.

Lincoln Brigham
03-13-2008, 09:45 PM
Here's another perspective:

http://crossfitsedona.typepad.com/Images/RackPositionShoulders.jpg YOU MUST ENSURE YOU ANNOTATE ALL LINKS WHETHER WORK AND FAMILY SAFE.


In both pictures the elbows are up as high as they will go. The only difference is that in bottom frame the shoulders are pinned back. Look at the white tape stuck on his shoulder - note how much forward the shoulders traveled.

Alex Rosch
03-13-2008, 10:04 PM
Well Lincoln...it's true: a picture is worth a thousand words...
That's a great illustration...

:evilsmile

Vic Webster
03-14-2008, 01:19 AM
Vic,
The above advice is spot on. Bring the elbows in. Try and get your elbows as close together as you can.

The best drill I've found for creating the rack is to have someone stand in front of you and you pretend to strangle them with your thumbs pointing toward the ceiling/roof. Or pretend your walking like Frakenstein. That creates the "rack" or shelf with your front delts. You have to bring your front delts forward, reach forward with your lats and traps, and get your elbows close together.

The next step is finding a way to get your hands on the bar and maintaining some semblence of control. That's an art.

One of the drills I've used to increase my flexibility is to put a big weight on the bar and stand up with it from the rack. Then I have a partner pull up on my elbows to get them higher. Note, you're elbows will need to be a lot closer together than is evidenced by the photos.

Next, as you stand there, likely in pain from the stretch, have your partner provide resistence on the back of forearms as you try to push your elbows even higher. This will cause you to stretch more.

I did this before, during, and after most of my sessions for about three months. I'm a fairly large fellow (with a powerlifting/bodybuilding background) and given that my elbows were at my sides (obliques) during my cleans five months ago, I'm pretty psyched.

Here's one of my recent Tall clean sessions; I'm not saying what I'm doing is right. But it's starting to work for me. I've got a long way to go and I'm going to keep on drilling the movements from the top down until I get them right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLfY47zMPaY

One of the keys to remember when front squatting or doing squat cleans is to "lead with the elbows" "out of the hole." In other words, when you're at the bottom position, the first thing you should think about is pulling your elbows as high as you can and leading the weight out of the bottom of the squat position with your elbows.

Hope this helps?

All the best,
Arden

Fantastic post, thanks for taking the time to write such a long and helpful reply. I like your video too, you're certainly a strong looking hombre!

Vic Webster
03-14-2008, 01:20 AM
Lincoln,

Thanks very much for your replies, very helpful.

Guys, I can't wait to get into the gym and put all your advice into practise.

Tony Zaborski
05-23-2008, 12:28 PM
i was going to make a post about my rack position then I found this one. Great posts by all, I'll definately have to be more aware of where my shoulders are... I know for a fact I usually try and pinch them back. Now I just need to work on my wrist flexibility and I'll be set.

Carlos Cristan
05-23-2008, 06:12 PM
In both pictures the elbows are up as high as they will go. The only difference is that in bottom frame the shoulders are pinned back. Look at the white tape stuck on his shoulder - note how much forward the shoulders traveled.

Great illustration. Thanks Lincoln

Sean Schade
05-27-2008, 09:36 AM
Great post. I'm having flexibility issues getting a good rack position as well. Lincoln's pictures really puts things into perspective. I will be trying this tomorrow!

Sean Schade
05-28-2008, 07:20 AM
Great tips Lincoln. I tried pulling my elbows in, and moving my shoulders forward, and was able to get in a much better rack position!

Lawrence "Bo" Boland III
08-07-2009, 05:19 AM
Here's another perspective:

http://crossfitsedona.typepad.com/Images/RackPositionShoulders.jpg

In both pictures the elbows are up as high as they will go. The only difference is that in bottom frame the shoulders are pinned back. Look at the white tape stuck on his shoulder - note how much forward the shoulders traveled.

Holy thread resurrection Batman! It even prompted me telling me this was over a year old, but I felt the need.

I've been struggling to rack the bar since I found CrossFit over 6 months ago. I never actually read SS, but I did the program for a while following the Wiki and following peoples advice. I even did an affiliate's Starter program to learn the basic movements (but they did MedBall cleans, not with bar).

The one thing that I never found anywhere else was the cue to push your shoulders forward and your elbows in. Holy hell! I was finally able to raise my elbows and actually FEEL like the bar was racked and that I wasn't just holding it with my wrists!

Sorry for the necro-thread, but if you're still posting here, thank you!

John Devine
08-07-2009, 10:46 AM
Holy thread resurrection Batman! It even prompted me telling me this was over a year old, but I felt the need.

I'm glad you did Bo, or else I would have missed this too! Lincoln is a great asset to this community and yes, he still posts although perhaps not as often.

Justin Gross
08-21-2009, 05:13 PM
Thanks Lincoln, that's a great illustration

Lincoln Brigham
08-21-2009, 05:27 PM
The other most common issue is inability to externally rotate the humerus. Think of the guy losing an arm wrestling match -- that is external rotation. You must be able to rotate the arm externally if you want to rack the bar on the shoulders. Poor external rotation will result in wrists taking the majority of the load.

Note the external rotation in these lifters:

Kallista Pappas:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1WbjI_uFyM

Allison King:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GPT5Vfocn8

Melanie Roach:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGAXrlCi3fI

(Links work/family safe)

Lincoln Brigham
08-21-2009, 05:29 PM
Here's how NOT to rack the bar for the front squat.
Arms internally rotated, elbows down, bar racked low and in front of the deltoids.

Lawrence "Bo" Boland III
08-22-2009, 06:36 AM
its still tough for me to get my arms parallel with the floor.

With the cues I saw in this thread, and getting used to having the bar up against my windpipe, I still can only get my arms 80% there. Hopefully with some practice will come some flexibility. I will be doing light cleans in my warmup to hopefully get the muscle memory in there.

Lou Cabales
08-24-2009, 08:57 PM
re: external rotation (a la lincoln)

I've been working at clean rack position for a few months now, most progress has come from PNF stretching in rack position with bar, with friend pushing up on elbows

After reading this thread and frustrated with my progress on rack position,
I was speaking to a friend I train with and we came up with this stretch:

Elbow forward,upper arm parallel to ground, lower arm (radius,ulna) at 45 degree angle

Top of pvc bar outside of upper arm palms up, bar inside of wrist

Pull bottom of bar externally rotating humerus.

Looking forward to the elusive "great rack."

Michael Ingley
08-25-2009, 05:49 PM
what my problem is now, is that when I clean the bar from the ground it lands in the correct rack posistion, but when I try to put my arms in the rack posistion from a rack I dont have sufficient flexibility to do it correctly.