The Power Jerk: Set Yourself Under
By: Edward Baker
The power or push jerk is a less common, yet equally viable way of executing the jerk portion of the clean & jerk. Weightlifting literature may give it a brief mention, but technical issues are not really addressed. This is presumably because for most, the power jerk serves as no more than an assistance exercise. After collaborating with biomechanists and well respected international coaches (including Pyrros Dimas’s coach, Christos Iakovou) I will begin to address the technical faults that are most prominent with power jerkers. The one we will address today is: Not setting one’s self under the bar.
The two biggest disadvantages of the power jerk are that the athlete must drive the barbell higher (in relation to a split jerk) and that there is a reduction in anteroposterior stability. The reduction in anteroposterior stability means either: If the barbell has horizontal deviation when being driven overhead, or if the athlete isn’t optimally set under to receive the barbell, then there is a significantly reduced chance of a successful jerk. The split jerk is much more forgiving if either of the aforementioned faults occur, and there are many instances in which the athlete can dance around the platform and save the lift.
In the following example, the athlete drives the barbell vertically, but jumps back a couple of inches and has to incline forward at the torso to successfully make the lift. Ideally you’d like for the torso to remain fairly vertical.
Photos thanks to: Hookgrip
Keeping the shoulders and hips in line with the barbell overhead or ‘joint stacking’ is especially important for a power jerker. A vertical torso will also enable the athlete to ride the jerk into a partial squat with maximal poundages (The jerk would be missed out front with an overly inclined torso, just as a squat would.) The feet move out slightly, not back when going from the driving to receiving position of the power jerk. Some higher tiered power jerkers (Dimas, Kakhiasvilis, Bedzhanyan, etc.) jump forward in several instances.
If the barbell is driven in almost a perfectly vertical manner then there may be a need to jump forward a little so that the athlete’s shoulders and hips are in line with the bar (If the bar is starting on the anterior deltoids and being driven overhead in a secure receiving position then this makes sense.) While I certainly wouldn’t advocate consciously displacing the feet forward when receiving a power jerk, let it serve to emphasize the importance of being in an ideal position for receiving the barbell.
I also witness people not making any sort of attempt to go into a receiving position when the bar is driven to arm’s length, they are simply straight up, which means the barbell has to be driven higher, and means that the barbell is much more precarious overhead. Even if the power jerk is being used as an assistance movement, special attention must be given to ensure that the athlete wedges themselves between the barbell and the platform in a nice and secure position.
Just a little sharing of observations I’ve had, I’ll scratch the surface on a couple of other points regarding the power jerk in the future.