Top 5 Ways to Warm Up Your Rack

posted in: clean, front squat, hip, shoulder, The Lab | 0

Warm up For Front Squats

Part 1: Mobility

Part 2: Activation

Top 5 Ways to Fire Up Your Rack: 

What’s your favorite position for your (front) rack?

Whether it’s the front squat, clean, wall walls, rowing, road biking, or at the top of a pushup, there are key things to keep in mind when warming up for these movements.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have the mobility to achieve the partially flexed, fully externally rotated shoulder position required for front rack lifts?  Do you have the fully flexed, fully externally rotated hip position when you squat combined with the appropriate ankle dorsi-flexion and tibial external rotation? (Picture of Kendrick Ferris)Kendrick-Farris-front-squat
  2. Do you have the appropriate spinal set up when biking 100 miles in a front rack position or, or performing a slow strength-speed movement like the front squat, or a little faster movement with the wall ball, or an even faster movement with changes in direction, like the clean?  (Picture from biking (, warm up for front squats


If No understand this:

Quality motor control (stability) in movement is driven by quality proprioception.  Prioprioceptors are specialized sensory receptors that live in our joints, muscles, and tendons.  These receptors provide the central nervous system with information needed to maintain muscle tone and perform complex coordinated movements (Baechle, Earle).  Quality proprioception is not optimal with limitations in the joint or soft tissue.  “This is WHY MOBILITY COMES FIRST,” says physical therapy thought leader Gray Cook.

Pre-Loading/Activation Drills: 

Warming up your nervous system (spine) is important for overall spinal health as well as the hips and shoulders that hinge off your spine.  The importance of pre-loading muscle fibers before exercise is well understood in the coaching and medical worlds.  Pre-loading movement patterns during a warm-up is a way to proactively jump-start the relatively slow chemical process that prepares the muscles for the efficient contraction required to effectively execute higher velocity movements

Our activation drills listed below incorporate midline (spine) exercises that will affect the movement pattern of any front rack movement you have in store during the workout.

Perform these drills before you do any Olympic lift prep or barbell work because it will open up those closed-off pathways that limit your proprioception, but also help you load correctly, efficiently, and raise your temperature.  In this way, stretching and aggressively activating muscle tissues will not be a problem under serious loads.

  1. Warm up on the rower: 500 meters X2 with a 1:1 rest ratio or 1000 meters row at one time

Goal: Get Hot and Sweaty


  1. Mobilize your thoracic spine- see example video

2 minutes

  1. Mobilize your hips- see example video

3-4 minutes


Goal: Fire up the nervous system and activate the muscles that will be stabilizing your frame during isometric, concentric, and eccentric types of muscle contractions.

  1. Thoracic Spine- Scapula Extensor and Retraction Activation Drill in the Rings- see video
  1. reps, 3 second hold, 2 sets
  1. Goblet Squats with medium load

15 reps, 5 second holds at the bottom actively driving thighs out, 2 sets


Gray Cook- Movement

Naito J, Masuyama T:

Thomas R. Baechle, Roger W. Earle- Essentials of Strength and Conditioning

Kelly Starrett-