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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 01-10-2007, 02:28 AM   #1
Nicholas Hahn
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I seem to have a problem with shoulder flexibility insofar as I can't seem to put my elbows in toward the center of my body when I do cleans. This causes my hands to slide to the middle and therefore not support the weight properly. When I fenced I couldn't hold the the foil correctly because I couldn't keep my elbows in, so this is not a new problem.

I've tried the PVC pipe around the body stretch and I have no problem keeping my arms in a snatch position. My only problem is the rack position, which also causes problems for my thrusters.

Does anyone have any suggestions for improving my racks position and/or shoulder flexibility?

Thanks
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Old 01-14-2007, 09:54 AM   #2
Craig Van De Walker
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I an tell you what I did, might work for you.

At the start and end of every gym workout I loaded the bar on the squat rack and put my finger tips on the bar and tried to force my wrists back so I could rack properly. "Strive for" elbows up, bar on delts, big chest, hands folded back. I did this for about a month and a half and things improved greatly.

Find some pictures of what it should look like and emulate
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:04 AM   #3
Travis Loest
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Nicholas,
Your elbows shouldn't be near the center of your body, the should be pretty much straight forward or in slightly. At least, that's the way that I've been doing cleans and front squats. Here is a picture of me about 6 months into CrossFit, I can get my elbows up a bit higher now, closer to parrallel with the ground, but they dip down a little when I squat down.
http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/22/35433.jpg
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Old 01-14-2007, 03:33 PM   #4
Michael Manseau
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Travis;
My elbows looked about the same today when I was working on the front squat. Just couldn't get them any higher. I wonder if this is a problem for the bigger guys or is it a flexibility issue? (I'm 6'3")
I have no problems doing OHS.
What does Rip have to say about the elbows?
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Old 01-14-2007, 09:49 PM   #5
Nicholas Hahn
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Thanks for the advice, Craig.

Travis, "Your elbows shouldn't be near the center of your body"

I was under the impression and I have been told that keeping them near the center of your body kept the bar from coming down and it helped keep the elbows up. An added benefit is that you won't hit your elbows on your knees on a deep squat, as I have done.

But I guess you're right that essentially, you don't really need to keep them in, just up.

If I'm mistaken, please tell me.
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Old 01-14-2007, 09:57 PM   #6
Travis Loest
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Nicholas,
I use to have the problem of hitting my elbows on my knees when I squatted. I just forced my elbows up higher. It took me a while(2-3 months) but now it's not an issue. Keeping the elbows up was the goal, if I'd of thought about it I may have tried to push them in to stop from hitting my knees but it never occured to me. The goal was to get the elbows up, so that's what I worked on. But that doesn't mean you want them sticking out, just forward.
Michael,
I'll have to dig out my SS book and see what Riptoe says.
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Old 01-15-2007, 08:29 AM   #7
Michael Manseau
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Travis; think I'm going to have to order SS. Will be a wise investment me thinks.
In the meantime, I'll try keeping them up. Must be more of a wrist flexibility issue than shoulder....
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Old 01-15-2007, 04:53 PM   #8
Matthew Swift
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Michael, I struggled with this for a long time. Coming from a wrestling/striking background I have always had tight lats/triceps/shoulders. I had a lot of difficulty getting a good rack position which was made even more difficult by a wrist injury. I used to think it was wrist flexibility but it isn't. CF Journal 52 has some great photos of the rack position and the importance of high elbows in order to get the position without placing too much strain on the wrists. The good thing about my wrist injury is that it made me examine my clean technique, ie if I didn't rack properly I got a LOT of wrist pain. Here is what I found helped:-

1. learn to "release" the bar onto your chest so that you have just fingertips on it. You need to stop thinking that you are "holding" the bar in the rack position, rather think of the bar as resting on your shoulders and you hands just guiding it

2. stretch you lats by placing a tennis ball on the part just under your armpit and pressing into wall with your arm up and above your head. This will feel painful as first but will ease off after about 20-30 secs. Do this a couple of times a day.

3. stretch the rack position by lying on a bench and letting your hands dangle over your head with elbows high above your face. In this position hold a couple of light dumbells (2kg) so that the weight of the db gently pulls your hands towards the floor. This is a great stretch to do before practicing cleans.

It took me about 2 months to develop the flexibility in my upper back and triceps (using the above method) required to have a good rack position. My wrist flexibility has not changed in that time, and now that I have high elbows I no longer get wrist pain.

Hope this helps,

Cheers,
Matt
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Old 01-15-2007, 08:01 PM   #9
Michael Manseau
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Matt; I think the biggest problem might be what you cited in #1; not holding the bar. I did have a pretty good grip on the bar vs just letting the bar sit on the top of the front delts.
I'm pretty sure my shoulder flexibility isn't a problem as I can do OHS.
Guess I'll have to practice, practice & more practice. And get a look at issue 52.
Thanks,

Michael
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:32 PM   #10
Matthew Swift
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Hi Michael,

I could always get a good OH squat position, but still had a lot of tightness in my upper lats without realising it. Here is a picture that was taken this morning just to show you what I mean about releasing the bar ...

http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/22/35519.jpg

I still don't feel like I have my elbows high enough, but the bar is definately sitting (fairly) comfortably on my shoulders and there is not much wrist pressure. This elbow position is about 20 degrees higher than what I could manage 2 months ago. Here is the stretch I have been using ...

http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/22/35520.jpg

They are only 1kg db's but I still get a good stretch. It is important to keep your back flat into the bench.

Anyway, good luck with it.
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