In July, we introduced the Outlaw Rack. But, like all things Jeff, that was just a scratch of the surface. The benefits of the Outlaw Rack are extensive, but one of the things a few people struggle with when beginning to implement the outlaw rack is shoulder issues. That should come as no big surprise in today’s world. A few people experience a “pinch” in the posterior shoulder when first beginning the Outlaw Rack.
Is this pinch a mobility issue? Is it a stability issue? I don’t know. I can think of several causes of this “pinch” that range from a trigger point in the thumb to issues in the quadratus lumborum. See me, and I can find your problem – short of coming to see me, I don’t know what your cause is. So we don’t know what the exact cause is, we can still work on fixing it. Mobility precede stability, always – that is one of the Movement Orders. It doesn’t come before stability – because they develop together – but mobility does need to be winning its race with stability for things to be okay. ‘Before’ isn’t the best descriptor.
But, I digress…we know we can safely start with mobility. You can do some mobility work for your shoulder. But, to get all the benefits of the Outlaw Rack, you will need to address your t-spine restrictions. (hint – if you have a shoulder restriction, assume you have a t-spine limitation as well, odds are you do). Then, following other models, you need to layer on stability – shoulder stability and spinal stability. To steal a line from a 2016 social media star: “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” The outlaw rack is good, but not so good that you should have to spend 30 minutes prepping for it.
So, in typical Outlaw Movement fashion, we blended it all. We put together a drill that improves mobility and stability – together – of both the t-spine and the shoulder. And we did it in a manner where mobility is just barely out in front of stability. We call it the low outlaw rack.
In the set-up picture above, you will pretty much feel nothing. This
Like a lot of things, we stumbled into the low outlaw rack. Other have shared banded mobility drills with the arm in a similar position. But, loading this position up with a kettlebell and then adding trunk rotation is quite a different experience than working on banded shoulder mobility. The significant benefit is similar to the Outlaw Rack – the training effects of the overhead position without being in the overhead position. The trunk rotation is key to this.
Anyone that has done a windmill, bent press, 2-hands-anyhow, or a side-press have felt the “unique” loading of the top arm and spine. Having the spine in some degree of lateral flexion and rotation and then adding load to it is a position that we no longer load too often. While in that position, we load the abducted shoulder; unless there is a mobility issue, then we load the static stabilizers of the shoulder joint (the capsule and ligaments – not okay).
In the low outlaw rack, we are loading the top arm, so the CNS has to generate stability and motor control just like it would for a windmill or a bent press. But, since we aren’t overhead, the shoulder is in a very different position that still requires significant spinal rotation. The difference is the joint is not ABDucted; it is extended and ADDucted behind the back. This positioning affords a little more wiggle room if things go wrong. First, the bell is a lot closer to the ground in this position, and more importantly, you are not between the bell and the ground. Second, you are not compressing the head of the humerus into the glenoid (under a load) in a position that stresses the anterior joint capsule. The other nice thing about this position is that gravity kicks in and helps drive the trunk rotation – this is more of a thoracic rotation drill than a shoulder drill.
Since the top arm is loaded, there are more direct benefits than doing a low windmill variation (in which the CNS generates stability completely different since the loading is entirely different). In the low outlaw rack, we have kept it the same but made it slightly different, its all the benefits of the windmill or bent press without the need for the overhead portion. To be clear – the outlaw rack is a great variation drill of these lifts to improve the lifts. Especially if someone is struggling with the required mobility to get into these lifts (pretty much everyone that is just learning).
“What about being in a rear wrist-lock position with a kettlebell – won’t I put myself in a position to tap out?” The low outlaw rack does resemble a rear wrist lock or rear
“What’s the best way
There you have it – give the low outlaw rack a try, especially if you have been struggling with your windmills or bent press. It is a great sensory experience for the CNS that drives both mobility and motor control in a loaded manner at the point of some common restrictions.