"Hands wider than your shoulders!'. You hear me and Maria call this out every time you grab a barbell and bring it on to your shoulders. You all (well, most of you!) happily oblige, but do you understand why your coaches tell you to do this? In part two of our "Why do we tell you to..." (see Part 1 here) we are going to enlighten you. Brace yourselves...
The Front Rack Position (as seen in the picture of Maria, above) is one of the seven Archetypal Shapes. You generally hear us talk about this position in relation to barbell positioning in the front squat, push press etc, but it is so much more.
There are seven 'archetypal shapes' we can use to describe most movements: four archetypal shapes for the shoulder and three for the hip/ankle. The archetypal shapes describe a position of a joint, in the case of the front rack position, we have flexion + external rotation of the shoulder. This is the shoulder position also seen in bench press, push-ups, handstand push-up, plank etc.
That's all good and well, but it still doesn't answer the question.... Why do we tell you to keep your hands outside your shoulders when going in to the front rack?!
Reason #1: Everything is everything else. When you are practicing a better front rack position you are practising a better (Read: stronger!) push-up position, handstand push-up position and so on. Everything we do in CrossFit has transferable skill, meaning it can be applied to many other movements we use in the gym, but also in your everyday life.
To get in to the position of flexion and external rotation we need to bring the arm up to 90+ degrees, and rotate the humerus (upper arm) from the midline (externally rotate). In the case of the front rack position, we achieve this by placing your hands just wider than shoulder width apart. This position creates stability in our shoulder during movements that happen in flexion, e.g. pressing overhead.
Reason #2: Creating a safe, stable, strong shoulder. If you want to keep your shoulders healthy then you need to put yourself in positions of stability when lifting overhead. Setting up in our good front rack position creates a stable platform so you can better express your strength and skill.
As the stress on the body increases (i.e. heavier loads, faster speeds, complex movements), it is much more difficult to maintain our good front rack position. When we see elbows flair out on push-ups or as athletes press overhead this is internal rotation and, for these movements, changing to a weak position. As we develop our strength, we become better at holding these quality positions of tension under increasing demands.
Reason #3: Avoid pain and injury. If you want to keep your shoulders healthy then you need to put your shoulders in positions of stability. If the hands come inside the shoulders we move into a position of internal rotation. When the shoulder is in flexion this can be a position of instability and may increase your likelihood of injury. This internally rotated position is when people can experience impingement of the shoulder during pressing movements... hands up anyone who has experienced shoulder pain/pinching in the past?!
So when we tell you to put your hands outside your shoulders we are doing that with your health and safety in mind!
Now, the most important reason of all...
Reason #4: It makes you more awesome!
If you struggle with the front rack archetype there are plenty of drills that you can use. This video explains a little more about what I have written about, and the second video has a few mobility drills you can begin to tackle on the regular.
WORKOUT OF THE DAY
A) EMOM x 5
3 Strict press
B) Alternating EMOM x 10
Even: 3 Push press
Odd 2: Midline
At the start of the 16th minute begin...
10 minute AMRAP
5 Push press 50/35kg
10 Toes to bar
15 Air squat