front rack

13 May 2015 – Why do we tell you to... get your hands outside your shoulders!


"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 shoulderThis is the shoulder position also seen in bench press, push-ups, handstand push-up, plank etc.

Carl Paoli and G-Whizz demonstrating Reason #1: Everything is everything else!

Carl Paoli and G-Whizz demonstrating Reason #1: Everything is everything else!

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.

Iceland Annie understands the importance of a solid front rack position!

Iceland Annie understands the importance of a solid front rack position!

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. 

Oooosh... those elbows are all over the place!

Oooosh... those elbows are all over the place!

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.


A) EMOM x 5
3 Strict press

Straight into

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

12 Nov 2014 - Nutrition + Training = Awesomeness!

We all bust our humps in the gym, but no matter how hard you train if your nutrition does not reflect your goals then your efforts are potentially being wasted.

Various studies have shown that a good nutrition program (with no training regime) has more benefits than training (with no nutrition regime). Simply put, you cannot 'out-train' a bad diet. The same research also highlights that a good nutrition program matched with a good training program will produce results superior to either aspect on its own. 

At CrossFit 1864 we take nutrition seriously.  It shares the same importance as training itself, which is why we offer tailored nutrition programming. We approach nutrition with several ideas in mind:

Individualised: We are all unique with our own backgrounds, physiologies, goals and aspirations. As such, we all need some level of individualisation in our nutrition.

Lifestyle: We do not prescribe diets, we help you create a lifestyle. Nutrition has to be something that is sustainable and fits easily into your daily life. If this doesn't happen, you won't enjoy it and chances are you will give up quickly. 

Education: Whilst we are here to guide you through your training and nutrition we also endeavour to ensure you learn how to take control of your own nutrition. This way, when we cannot be there to help you, you will already have all the tools and knowledge you need to make the right decisions. 

Simplicity: We keep our nutrition programs simple, starting with solid foundations and building from there. Whilst we introduce you to a few key rules, we don't have a long list of do's and dont's.

So how should you begin to take control of your nutrition?

Get the data: The first thing to do is track your eating over at least a one week period. Write down EVERYTHING that passes your lips along with the time of day, and be honest. Otherwise, you are just cheating yourself.

Look at the data!: When looking back over the food diary, it should be pretty easy to identify some areas for improvement. Try asking yourself the following questions:

- Am I eating a balanced meal everytime I eat?

- Are my meals evenly spaced throughout the day?

- Am I getting enough variety in my foods?

- Am I actually eating more sugary foods than I thought?

- When do I tend to get the munchies?

...and so on. If you spot any potential issues then it's time to make some adjustments

Start basic: When we teach you a muscle-up, where do we start? We don't go straight for the main showpiece, we first look at your basic movement patterns and progress you through a series of progressions.  Our approach to nutrition is the same! We start with making sure our clients have the basics down first (balanced meals, good sources of protein/carbohydrates/fats etc), then we begin to layer on the more complex areas later when they are ready for it.

Knowing how to move forward with your nutrition so it matches your training goals can be tricky, and that's where we can help!

Below is an example from Sarah Hilton, one of the first folks on our nutrition programming...

"I went to Maria and Phil for nutrition programming as I had found that while I had my weight under control, I had plateaued somewhat with my training and performance.

My goal with them was to improve my CrossFit performance, and increase lean mass as opposed to just losing weight as I had done before.

The process was clear and straightforward, I kept a food diary for two weeks, and while I think I eat pretty well, Maria was able to pinpoint a couple of areas I could improve straight away, such as introducing more variety to my recipes, less fruit, more veg. I put these changes in place with Maria's support, and have been thrilled with my results in a short space of time. I'm typically having up to 500 more calories a day than I was, I'm enjoying food more. 

I've changed my body composition positively, and actually lost some weight too which I wasn't expecting. Best of all I'm experiencing a great period of strength gains and performing better than I ever have before at CrossFit. I would recommend their approach to everyone, not just because the results are evident, but they are friendly and easy to work with too."

Sarah's results (below) are just 4 weeks into her nutrition program! Just from introducing some basic concepts she's already smashing her way to her targets. 

If you are interested in finding out more or getting started with our nutrition programming just email us at

Workout of the day

A) Gymnastic skills: Handstand Push-Ups (HSPU)

B) 15 minute AMRAP:


8 Tyre jump 

12 Front rack lunge 60/40kg