Recently I was talking with a couple of lifters who are new to the whole Kettlebell Sport game. We were discussing the rack position and one of them said that he needed to sprint his set because he had no rack but his friend didn’t even need a rack because she didn’t need to rest during her set. Personally I have been searching for my rack since I started Kettlebell training in 2004 and I have yet to find a position that is comfortable enough to be considered “rest”. The way that I have learned to cope with the lack of rack is by pacing and slowly building up my endurance so I can complete a whole set without stopping. So far I have only made it about 70% through on my best day. Even though I am making progress there is still a major problem with my approach. The rack is not just for resting.
First, I think it is important to identify what the rack actually is. I like to split it into two parts, the waist up and the waist down. Most kb lifters are familiar with the rack as the position one holds the bells in above the waist. This is partially correct but incomplete. The rack is like an ice burg as most of it exists below the surface. Keeping your legs straight and your hips forward is the first key to a good rack position. Even if you can not get your elbows to rest on your hips, if your legs are locked and your hips are forward you are in a safer position structurally than if your knees are bent or if you are standing strictly vertical and the bells are out in front of your body. This is what I call the Standard Waist Down Position. It is a position that is present in in your Jerk, Snatch, Rack, and at the end of your swing. It is a position that you will need to master if you are looking to advance in this sport.
The rack position from the waist up is as natural as walking to some and world of mystery to others. If you can rest your elbows on your hip you have the kind of structural advantage that a 7’ tall person has playing basketball. If this position does not come naturally to you it can be a long journey ahead. The most obvious advantage is that you can rest. If your legs are locked straight and your hips are forward you can rest your elbow on the top of your hip and let the weight of the bell rest on your structure as opposed to your musculature. This allows you to rest (at least a little). The rest is important but it is not the only reason to put your elbow on your hip.
During a Jerk set, you will be driving through your legs and your elbow will be bursting off your hip. Think about it like placing the elbow on the hip is pulling back the hammer of a gun and exploding with your legs though your hips is like pulling the trigger and going all Dirty Harry on your Jerk set. Jerking from the hip is such a huge advantage for a lifter. Not everybody does it but most lifters who can do.
As for the Long Cycle, the elbow to hip is key. Your clean must be deliberate and clear. The Long Cycle is two distinct movements. The clean is the first one. If you establish an elbow to hip connecting you will have no problem with fixation
Every time you swing you work your rack position. Every time you snatch or jerk you work the rack. In the long cycle you live in the rack position. It is where you can recover, reload, and blast off. Just remember, the rack is not just for resting.
John Wild Buckley CSCS
John Wild is the founder of the Orange Kettlebell Club which has hundreds of members in over a dozen countries. He has been teaching Kettlebell since 2004 and has competed in Kettlebell Sport on the professional level. John Wild was the first westerner in modern times to teach a Kettlebell workshop in Japan and he has had the honor of working with some of the best Kettlebell instructors in the world. John Wild is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the NSCA and he spent 5 years as a Personal Trainer with Equinox Fitness Clubs where he was a Tier 3 trainer. He is Pre and Post-Natal certified as well as a USAW Sport Coach in Olympic lifting.
John Wild Graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2000 with a degree in English Literature and has written several articles and appeared in National and International Magazines and Newspapers. He lives in Oakland CA.
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