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View Full Version : Rack Position in Newbies in Jerk/PP


Jon E Matzner
04-14-2010, 07:40 AM
So a couple of the coaches at our gym have been having a discussion about the proper cueing. I'm interested to get some fellow lifter's take on the discussion:

I'll just use Brian's words because he summed up our debate well:

For most of the novice lifters at the gym, they don’t have enough muscle in the anterior deltoid to hold the bar up, so it rests on the collar bone. This causes huge strain in the wrists and back during the Jerk, as the wrists are supporting the bar primarily. Also, the low back is fighting the tendency for the torso to pitch forward, because the bar is is forward from the center of mass. The bar should be back towards the throat and on top of the anterior deltoid.

If you can cue the athlete to “roll your shoulders forward” then you create a better shelf, but lose a measure mid-thoracic stability. Hypothetically, this would also lead to strain on the lower back to keep the torso from pitching forward.

Elbow position for either of these issues is definitely not ideal. If the athlete is supporting the bar with the wrists, then the flexion in those wrists will not allow good power transmission into the bar.

If the athlete has the shoulders rolled forward, the elbows are probably too high. This leads to zero contribution from the arms until the bar is several inches off the shoulder and the elbows have lowered.

I lean towards protecting the wrists vice protecting the thoracic spine. I feel like one can still keep some measure of midline stability and better generate vertical force on the bar with a slight kyphotic reversal (not really lordosis yet) of the t-spine.

If the athlete has the bar forward of their center of mass though, the lumbar is going to potentially lose rigidity as well as the t-spine. Plus the bar is going to go vertical with a greater horizontal component, forcing the athlete to jump forward and/or miss the lift.

So the real question is “How do we address the widespread flexibility issues that limit athletes ability to get the bar, wrists, elbows, and shoulders in the proper position to jerk?”

Grissim Connery
04-14-2010, 12:32 PM
I definitely need help here. Somebody hook this up!!

Greg Everett
04-14-2010, 02:55 PM
There is no need for significant shoulder mass to support the bar - the bar should be behind the delt mass anyway. The shoulder blades should be protracted to create this shelf for the bar - scapular protraction is independent of thoracic spine position, although it can be tough initially to separate the two. This protraction has nothing to do with the elbow position either - it can be accomplished with the elbows straight down, although we want them just a bit in front of the bar.

glennpendlay
04-14-2010, 09:11 PM
the cue "shrug the shoulders up" when the bar is on the chest, along with yourself doing it to demo, plus then sticking your hand in their upper tricep/underarm area and raising their shoulders.... this works wonders.

Jon E Matzner
04-22-2010, 12:54 PM
Good points. The challenge for me now becomes how to cue:

1) Elbows slightly in front of the bar
2) Big Proud Chest
3) Bar behind the delt mass.

in a population that has significant shoulder and wrist mobility issues.

Greg Everett
04-22-2010, 12:57 PM
Well that's part of the issue - you can't "cue" away flexibility limitations. You need to address those consistently and aggressively during the learning process so they can actually attain the positions you're wanting them to.

Jon E Matzner
04-22-2010, 01:10 PM
Makes sense. I think I have been doing everything you recommend with my athletes, except for the word "aggressively".

I've found people (usually dudes) respond to the Kelly Starrett speech that sounds something like "The reason you need to address these mobility concerns is because of "dirty sexy nasty performance increases". If I tell them to work on mobility without this preamble, they usually just ignore it.

The triplet of:

1) Behind the neck presses at different squat heights
2) PNF Shoulder Internal Rotation
3) "Press Outs" a la Dan John
4) Lax Ball work

clears up most of the shoulder mobility issues I run into.

Jon E Matzner
04-22-2010, 01:16 PM
And of course by triplet I mean four things.

Lawrence "Bo" Boland III
04-23-2010, 05:51 AM
2) PNF Shoulder Internal Rotation


Can you explain this one? I've always had trouble with the rack... and I complain about it alot haha. Jerk's kill me, and so do thrusters (even though I think its a stupid exercise).

Any stretches that might help would be great. There's so much conflicting info out there. I always heard that tricep and lat stretches were good for helping improve the rack position.

Jon E Matzner
04-23-2010, 07:01 AM
Hey Bo -

I've found either putting your elbow against the wall or sticking a bar behind your neck and lifting your elbows to be the best bet for loosening up the rack position.

I just wrote a really long post on a couple of the drills I mentioned above. They've always seemed to work well for me.

Here they are:

http://www.barbellsandbacon.com/

Lawrence "Bo" Boland III
04-23-2010, 07:07 AM
1) Great blog title.
2) Thanks for that post! I'm going to give these a try during the next month and see if I can get some improvement.


I've found either putting your elbow against the wall or sticking a bar behind your neck and lifting your elbows to be the best bet for loosening up the rack position.


3) So, essentially get into a back squat rack, and try to pull your elbows underneath your armpits and forward? Or are you trying to push your elbows back and up (essentially accentuating the Back Squat Rack position)?

Jon E Matzner
04-23-2010, 07:14 AM
Let me know how it goes, keep me updated.

If I recall correctly, look in Greg's book (I think) for a more detailed discussion on this drill. It is a pretty standard Oly drill.

Re: The Rack position. HBBS bar position. Now let the bar slide down your back slowly. Use the weight of the barbell to lift your elbows up and in front of you. If you saw a picture of this you could figure it out in about 3 seconds.

I definitely might be imagining things, but I think I can see your shoulder mobility issues during that OHS in your profile picture....

Tyler Micheli
04-23-2010, 08:43 AM
A couple seconds into this clip is a demonstration of the rack stretch Jon suggested.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y9w_9EsKFM#t=53s

Lawrence "Bo" Boland III
04-23-2010, 08:54 AM
I definitely might be imagining things, but I think I can see your shoulder mobility issues during that OHS in your profile picture....

Perhaps. When I'm in the LBBS rack position, I have a hard time getting my hands inside of the knurling markers while keeping my wrists straight and elbows up. I've slowly gotten better at that during a cycle of SS.

A couple seconds into this clip is a demonstration of the rack stretch Jon suggested.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y9w_9EsKFM#t=53s

That looks like it could stretch the same muscles, but Jon describes being in the HBBS rack position. That lifter just has the bar in the Press position.

Jon E Matzner
04-23-2010, 08:59 AM
Different drill Bo. The bar is behind your neck in the one we talking about.

We are talking about the one @ fifty five seconds. Trying to attach screen shot

263

Lawrence "Bo" Boland III
04-26-2010, 05:02 AM
Different drill Bo. The bar is behind your neck in the one we talking about.

We are talking about the one @ fifty five seconds. Trying to attach screen shot

263

ah yes. I tried this exercise, and couldn't even get my elbows to pass in front of the plane that is my torso. I got my super flexy wife to get in there and try this stretch, and she could push her elbows past where the guy in your last picture has them.

So, other than this stretch, is there anything else to do? What inflexibility is this exactly? Internal shoulder rotation?

Jon E Matzner
04-26-2010, 07:29 AM
I'll let someone else with a better knowledge of anatomy describe what the actual tightness is.

Search for "How To Get A Better Rack" Written by Calvin Sun on the CF Invictus website. Good description of some stretches with pictures.

I'd also try having a friend gently lift your elbows with the bar in the rack position.