Do your wrists hurt when you go to hold a weight in front rack (the barbell resting on your shoulders in front of your neck)?
Presses, Jerks, Cleans, Thrusters, and Front Squats all involve trying to let a barbell rest on your shoulders with your hands still on the bar. In a coaching video we covered how mobility is one reason your wrists might hurt in the front rack position. After all, the pain in your wrists is coming from the tension of holding on to the bar. If we can get your elbows up high enough, then the bar will rest on your shoulders and get the tension on your wrists should go away.
There is a second reason your wrists can hurt in these front rack movements that isn’t injury related; your forearms aren’t strong enough!
How do we know this is the case? Well if you are able to comfortably hold that bar in front rack for a clean or front squat but, you start feeling discomfort on movements that involve pushing the barbell overhead or during handstands, then most likely have a forearm strength issue.
Why Would My Forearm Strength Help?
If you are actively pressing that barbell or holding yourself up in a handstand and your wrist is hurting, we have got to spend some extra time working on strengthening up your forearms.
Your forearms are like the calves of the arm. They move and support our wrists through daily activities and help brace the body when a load is applied to the hand. When properly activated they resist a loads tendency to keep the wrist from hyperextending or hyperflexing. When they aren’t strong enough to support the loads that are being applied to the hand, then the connective structures of the wrist have to take over and ligaments can start to stretch or the joint can be jammed. This results in pain that can persist for weeks and isn’t fun at all when you’re trying to progress in your lifting technique!
Routine’s To Strengthen Those Forearms for Putting Weight Overhead
If you are starting to feel some discomfort when you press and you’re lifting with great technique, then here are some accessory routines you can try with your next workout!
:20-:30 Active Bar Hang
100ft Plate Pinch Carry
:30 Hex DB Hold (As Heavy As Possible)
50 ft Waiters Carry ea. Arm
(Hold KB Straight Up In Air For Bonus Points! Make Sure Weight Is Light Enough That You Don’t Feel Pain)
Applying These Routines
These routines help build strength in your forearm where it counts!
Accessory routines 1 and 2 both work on your isometric (time under tension) strength and create a stronger base for the wrist. While Accessory 3 helps apply this skill to an object that we can work a little bit more on our weaknesses with than a barbell (just make sure you’re focusing on forearm activation and locking out the wrist, instead of adding the most weight!)
Try these before a pressing workout for activation with light weight or after to work on strength for the next time your going to attack a front rack movement. Over time your forearms will get stronger and help that pain go away along with some amazing results that should come in your comfort with handstand movements! After all, if the forearm is the calf of the arm, stronger calves help for walking and stronger forearms help with handstand walking!
Go ahead and give these a try and let me know how it goes after doing one of these routines 2-3 times per week for the next month!