The power jerk is an Olympic weightlifting movement. It’s a fantastic method that allows you to drive the bar higher and catch more weight with control – great for building strength!
It is a highly skilled, fast paced movement that for someone new to it, will take a lot of practice to feel natural. Practising the power jerk will improve balance in lifts, control of yourself and speed in transitions.
Another type of jerk is the split jerk. A favourite to most athletes, the split jerk enables you to catch the bar lower as well as giving better stability because you have a larger area of balance.
Today we are showing you the methods to both. It is good to practice both so keep changing it up when working on jerks!
Power Clean & Push Jerk and Split Jerk starting positions
This is about positioning the bar for the starting position – it is incredibly important to perfect this technique to plant a solid foundation for successful progression: relevant for both exercises.
Mastering this will also help tremendously with injury prevention.
✓ Clean the barbell up and into a front rack position,
✓ Your feet need to be hip width apart.
✓ You need a slight bend in the knees, with toes out slightly in a plie position,
✓ Keep the weight firmly in the heels. (You should be able to pick toes up without it changing your balance,)
✓ Make sure you are looking straight ahead, chest and elbows up, core tight.
How to do the Power Clean and Push Jerk
a) Dip down into a quarter squat keeping hips centred.
b) Drive up explosively from the heels with as much force as possible. Be sure to keep your face out of the way of the bar as you drive the bar up above your head. Your push should be so explosive that your feet slightly lift off the ground and land just a tiny bit further spread back into the quarter squat position. Land in a strong stomp to gain hard contact with the earth and give you a better sense of your balance as you catch the bar in your plie position. Make sure you catch the bar with strong, locked out arms.
c) Once you are still and strong, stand up straight keeping balanced and steady with the bar remaining above your head.
d) Finally, carefully bring the bar back down.
How to do the Split Jerk
a) Start in rack position, then dip down into a quarter squat keeping hips centred as so in the power jerk.
b) Drive up right from the heels with as much force as possible. Be sure to keep your face out of the way of the bar as you drive the bar up above your head. Your push will be so explosive that your feet will come slightly off the ground; with this you split the legs (strongest leg forwards) and land strong in the split jerk position. This position takes some practice so it is important to learn the feeling of the movement well before adding weight.
c) Once the bar has come past your head and you are about to catch it with locked out arms, split the legs so that they stay hip width apart, but one is forward and one is back. The front foot needs to be solidly on the ground, the back on the ball of the foot, weight distributed evenly.
Legs are both bent and you can allow yourself to catch the bar slightly lower in this position compared to the power jerk.
d) Once strong and balanced in the split position. Return to standing by moving the FRONT foot back slightly first, followed by the back foot to join the front hip width apart. This is the part that takes some getting used to as sometimes it can feel more natural to move the back foot forward first, especially with a lighter weight.
Take home message
Practice makes perfect. The more you practice a movement over and over, the more natural it becomes and the better you are going to be able to perform, so work on making the jerks feel really natural before adding substantial weight to the move.
It’s a good idea to maybe pair up with someone and record each other so that you can watch it back and see how you need to improve! And one last thing to remember, after the lift, always lower the barbell in a controlled, safe way.