clean and jerk, Jerk Variation, olympic weightlifting

Jerk Variation – Push Press

The Push Press

Once the athlete is becoming more competent with the Clean and Clean variations, the athlete must start learning the Jerk section of the lift, alongside its variations. The Push Press is a core variation of the Jerk and enables the athlete to begin learning some upper body explosiveness, timing and ways to emphasise leg power over hip. The Push Press combines all of these and is a less complicated way for the athlete to start learning the Jerk.

Sets: 3-6

Reps: 1-5

60 – 85% of the athlete’s 1RM [60% for speed work and 85% for power]

Important to note here that to become comfortable with the bar (and weight) in the Overhead Position, an excellent variation is to Perform the Press and hold the bar in the Overhead Position for anywhere up to 8 seconds, although up to 5 is plenty. Once the athlete becomes more proficient, allowing the athlete to hold more than their 1RM in the Overhead Position allows them to become comfortable with higher weights and strengthen the key muscles.

Benefits of the Push Press

  • Upper Body Explosiveness
  • Emphasis on the ‘dip and drive’ section of the lift
  • Leg Drive & Positioning
  • Lockout: The ability of the shoulders to lockout at the top of the lift
  • Timing & Speed

How to Perform the Push Press

Jerk Rack Position —> Dip at the Knees (tension on the quads) —> drive explosively up with the legs —> Press up with the Shoulders as the bar leaves them at the top of the Drive —> Secure in the Overhead Position

The Overhead Position: The first step to learning the Push Press is to establish the overhead position to ensure stability and safety.

  1. Place the barbell behind the neck on top of the traps
  2. Fully retract the shoulder blades (scapular retraction) and extend the upper back with a stable core. A belt can be worn when the weight becomes heavier.
  3. Press the bar straight up maintaining the above tightness
  4. At the top of the Press, the barbell should be above the base of the neck
  5. Elbows fully extended and squeezed tightly

The Press: Once the athlete has established the overhead position, they must understand and learn the Press mechanic. This is a explosive movement that requires the legs to dip and drive in unison with the shoulders and upper body. This position demands certain shoulder flexibility.

  1. Bring the bar to the shoulders with the Clean grip with scapular protraction to create a shelf for the barbell and a tight, fully extended upper back
  2. Keep the bar in the palms rather than with the fingers as the front squat position would dictate
  3. From this Jerk rack position, the bar must be pushed up and slightly backwards to accommodate the forward movement of the head
  4. The elbows should move from the sides to under the bar as the lift is in progress
  5. As the bar passes the head it should continue moving back into place over the base of the neck / top of the spine
  6. As the bar passes the head from the front rack to the overhead position the bar must move backwards slightly.

Dip & Drive: This is the section of the move that creates the power the Push Press requires, accelerating the barbell upward off the shoulders to the overhead position. It’s important to distinguish the lack of hip hinge; the power is derived from the legs.

  1. Put the feet in the power position with the toes turned out 5 – 15 degrees
  2. Dip by unlocking the knees slightly; the athlete will feel tension on the quads which becomes the primary power producer
  3. Move the weight slightly more to the heels
  4. Smoothly dip approximately 6 inches (this is height dependent, but the dip shouldn’t be exaggerated)
  5. There should be alignment of the hips, ankles and barbell at the lowest point of the dip
  6. At the bottom of the dip, the athlete must drive up forcefully to the overhead lockout position*; the end of the bar should move in a straight line from a horizontal viewpoint

* This should be practiced slowly at first; a controlled dip and smooth drive practicing the above steps

Push Press: The Push Press is just a combination of the above movements; the Jerk rack position to the Dip and Drive to the Overhead Press in one fluid motion.

  1. Hold the bar in the Jerk rack position
  2. Initiate a smooth knee bend with weight over the heels
  3. At the bottom of the dip, drive explosively up (powered by the legs)
  4. The bar must remain in contact with the shoulders throughout the dip
  5. The athlete’s weight will transition onto the balls of the feet due to the force of the drive. A clear sign things are working well
  6. As the bar leaves the shoulders when initiating the upper body drive, the legs must remain tight and rigid
  7. Pull the head back to allow for the direct bar path over the base of the neck
  8. Secure the Overhead Position before dropping the bar back to the shoulders*, this requires a stable core and breathing control (The Valsava Manoeuvre) to create sufficient trunk pressurisation

*Forcing the athlete to hold the Overhead Position for up to 3-5+ seconds is a good way to become comfortable with the required position

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