Being A Jerk


We all know, it, we all have our own feelings about it…  But regardless of personal preference, the Jerk is an important Olympic Lift.  What the heck IS a Jerk, exactly?  Sounds kinda… awkward.  And it can feel that way sometimes!  But when done properly, it’s truly a beautiful thing.

The Jerk moves the barbell from the shoulders to a locked-arm position overhead in a single explosive movement.  In a proper jerk, the barbell is driven off the shoulders with a violent dip-drive.  In the split second that the upward drive of the hips and shoulders makes the barbell weightless, the athlete (meaning: YOU) drives the body down with the arms until the bar is locked out solidly overhead.

The finished position in a Jerk can be one of two ways: you can land in a lunge position, with one foot extended in front of the body and one foot behind, known as a split jerk, or in a partial squat position, known as a push jerk.  In competition, the jerk is always paired with the clean, and the lifter must complete both parts together for a successful lift.

The concept of creating momentum and elevation on the barbell by jumping and landing applies to the Jerk. This exact same concept can be seen in the Snatch and Clean as well.  To be a Jerk, your arms must be locked out while the hip is retreating.  In competition, pressing the weight overhead is disallowed.   This is why you hear the Coaches saying, “NO pressouts!”   That weight should be received by you with arms in the fully locked position, every time.

“But why do I have to?!” I’ll tell you why you have to learn the Jerk. Because core to extremity muscular recruitment is foundational to the effective and efficient performance of athletic movement, that’s why. As the athlete (once again: YOU) moves through the progressions from shoulder press, to push press, to push jerk, the importance of core to extremity muscle recruitment is learned and reinforced. This concept alone would justify the practice and training of these lifts.

Here’s some basic math for you. With the Push Press you should be able to drive overhead as much as 30% more weight than with the Shoulder Press. The Push Jerk will allow you to drive as much as 30% more overhead than you would with the Push Press. I don’t know about you, but that tells me that I could potentially lift more than 60% more weight in a Jerk than in a Shoulder Press! WOW. Those are percentages I simply can’t ignore.

Sounds simple, right?  …..Right.  Now that you’ve likely tried it during class, and have also read about how marvelous it is, go out and PERFECT IT!  I double dare you to make the Jerk your practice skill for the week.  Who’s with me?!

(Perhaps a Sunday Open Gym “Grace-Off” is in order…)

Today’s Workout

Buy-in: 4 x 3 reps of Scarecrow squat snatches with PVC or empty bar.  Bring the bar up and pause at sternum with elbows high and wide.  Drop under into a full squat as the you whip the bar to full extension of the arms.  If new to the movement, work on overhead squat technique first.

WOD:  Half Mashed

This is a two part workout, both parts combine for your score!

1.  Hang squat snatch – 4 x 6 reps – build up over 4 sets to a heavy but technically strong 6 reps.  You must hold onto the bar the whole time (i.e. you can’t set it down when doing your set of 6).

2.  Half Tabata Mashup – 4 Tabata rounds (20s work, 10s rest) each of:

  • Squats
  • Pullups
  • Rowing (calories)
  • Do all 4 intervals in a row for each exercise, 1 min break, then on to the next exercise
  • Low score for each exercise is your score (combine them together)

Add your highest weight for 6 in the snatch to your low score total in the mashup for your daily score.

Cash-out: Mobility (coaches’ choice)


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