This article aims to review and synthesise research on the Jerk or Push Jerk, explaining the technique and most important points related to the movement
The Snatch and Clean and Jerk are complex Olympic movements that involve a global integration of the entire body and are performed using a series of high-intensity muscle actions (Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort, 2019).
Definition of the Jerk or Push Jerk
The Jerk consists of flexing the knees and hips quickly and forcefully, then extending these same joints in order to push the bar up from the shoulders, while simultaneously pushing the body under the bar (overhead position) (Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort, 2019; NSCA, 2018)
According to Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort’s (2019) analysis in the Weightlifting Overhead Pressing Derivatives review, Weightlifting movements can be subdivided into Catching, Pulling and Pressing derivatives.
Based on this, we can say that the Jerk is within the Pressing group.
Jerk Technique, How to Do It Correctly
The Jerk technique is divided into several phases, within which there are a series of guidelines to optimise the movement (NSCA, 2018; Glassman, 2017).
- Use the Power Clean or Hang Power Clean to lift the bar from the floor to the shoulders or remove the bar from a rack (from a shoulder-height position on a power or squat rack).
- Feet should be shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward or slightly outward.
- Rack position grip, where the grip shall be even, pronated, closed and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Elbows should be under or slightly in front of the bar.
- All reps start from this position.
Figure 1. Starting position. Source: NSCA (2018)
- Keeping your torso straight and your head aligned with your spine, bend your hips and knees at a slow to moderate speed to move the bar straight up and down. Don’t change the position of your arms.
- Hips shouldn’t move backwards during the dip. Instead, they should remain directly under the shoulders.
- The downward movement isn’t a full squat, but a dip at a depth not exceeding a ¼ squat or the power clean catch position
- Another guideline is for the depth not to exceed 10% of the lifter’s body height.
Figure 2. Dip. Source: NSCA (2018)
- Immediately after reaching the lowest dip position, reverse the movement by quickly extending the hips, knees, ankles, and then elbows to move the baroverhead.
- The bar should be help at the shoulders to maximise the upward momentum produced by the triple extension.
- The neck should be extended slightly to allow the bar to pass the chin (or the bar will hit your face).
Figure 3. Drive. Source: NSCA (2018)
- Then, push off and lower (simultaneously) a second time, catching the bar in a partial squat with arms fully extended overhead.
- As the bar is gripped, the hips and knees should flex to approximately a one-quarter squat position. The goal is to catch the bar at the same time as it reaches the full height and your feetare back into contact with the floor.
- Your torso should be straight, with your head aligned with the spine, directly under the bar; your eyes should be focused forward.
- Balance your body weight over half of your feet.
- Keep your elbows locked while the bar stabilises overhead.
Figure 4. Catch. Source: NSCA (2018)
Recovery or Competion
- After gaining control and balance, stand up by extending your hips and knees to a fully upright position with your feet flat on the floor.
Figure 5. Recovery. Source: NSCA (2018)
- At the end of the rep, lower the bar by gradually reducing the muscle tension in the arms to allow a controlled lowering of the bar to the shoulders. Your hips and knees flex simultaneously to cushion the impact of the barbell on the shoulders.
- At the end of the set, first lower the bar from your shoulders to your thighs, then to the floor (similar to the power clean exercise). The bar can also be returned to the power or squat rack.
A valid complete movement would be with the bar above the head and elbows straight
Features of the Jerk
|Nature of the Exercise|
|Position of the Bar|
|The Drop below the Bar|
Table 1. Characteristics of the Jerk. Source: Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort (2019)
Methodology of progression towards the Jerk
Implementing Weightlifting movements and their derivatives can be a useful strategy to improve athletic performance, reduce injuries and avoid incorrect technique. (Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort, 2019)
Appropriate progression should be adopted to facilitate and shorten the learning process (figure 1).
Figure 1. Graphical representation of the theoretical approach involving technical complexity, progression and strength-to-strength-speed demands of the WOPDs (Weightlifting Overhead Pressing Derivatives). Source: Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort (2019)
The progression (Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort, 2019) begins through the development of the slower, less complex exercise, such as the Standing Press (non-ballistic in nature), which aims to build the foundation of upper body strength, thoracic and shoulder complex mobility and overall motor control.
The progression will then move on to more challenging and demanding full-body strength exercises, such as the Push Press, Push Jerk or Split Jerk (ballistic in nature).
Finally (Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort, 2019), the implementation of WOPD from the back is best learned for less experienced lifters since they facilitate overall mechanical benefits while avoiding greater technical complexity resulting from the weight being placed over the centre of gravity and therefore requiring less torso strength to support the bar during propulsion.
The total joint contact forces felt at the knee (patellofemoral and tibiofemoral joint) and hip during vertical jumping (Jump and Landing) and Push Jerking are greater than in activities of daily living (ADL) or slower rehabilitation exercises (Cleather, Goodwin & Bull, 2013a).
The Jerk can be classified as a knee dominant exercise and can be effective in overloading and increasing the athlete’s ability to generate maximum knee moments (Cleather, Goodwin & Bull, 2013b).
There is a partial correspondence between Push Jerk (PJ) and Jump Squat (JS) with the CMJ (Countermovement Jump), where a greater mechanical similarity was observed between PJ and CMJ, exhibiting a load (30 and 50% 1RM) and joint-dependent relationship (Cushion, Goodwin & Cleather, 2016).
- The time you should take to change direction during a Jerk increases as the weight increases.
- The maximum height reached by the bar is strongly correlated with the speed of the bar at the time the drive phase is initiated.
- Lifters should strive to start the drive thrust when the bar retracts and reaches maximum upward speed.
- The Jerk is an exercise in which the heaviest possible weight is lifted overhead in weightlifting competitions (Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort, 2019).
- It’s an excellent exercise for working on increasing strength levels (Soriano, Suchomel & Comfort, 2019)
- NSCA (2018). Push Jerk. The National Strength and Conditioning Association.
- Soriano, M. A., Suchomel, T. J., & Comfort, P. (2019). Weightlifting overhead pressing derivatives: a review of the literature. Sports Medicine, 49(6), 867-885.
- Glassman, G. (2017). La guía de entrenamiento del nivel 1.
- Cleather, D. J., Goodwin, J. E., & Bull, A. M. (2013a). Hip and knee joint loading during vertical jumping and push jerking. Clinical biomechanics, 28(1), 98-103.
- Cleather, D. J., Goodwin, J. E., & Bull, A. M. (2013b). Inter-segmental moment analysis characterises the partial correspondence of jumping and jerking. Journal of strength and conditioning research/National Strength & Conditioning Association, 27(1), 89.
- Cushion, E. J., Goodwin, J. E., & Cleather, D. J. (2016). Relative intensity influences the degree of correspondence of jump squats and push jerks to countermovement jumps. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 30(5), 1255-1264.
- Santos, A., & Meltzer, N. E. (2009). A toy model that predicts the qualitative role of bar bend in a push jerk. Sports biomechanics, 8(4), 345-359.
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