clean and jerk, olympic weightlifting

Jerk Variation: The Power Jerk

The Power Jerk

The Power Jerk is a fundamental variation of the jerk and one that should be taught to an athlete once they’re is familiar with the dip and drive motion they’ve learned in the push press.

The dip and drive is a core mechanic of the power jerk, as it accelerates the barbell upwards whilst the arms continue the upward motion into the overhead position. This is the same mechanic used to push the athlete under the bar, into the receiving position for the Jerk.

Here is a video of me performing the power jerk:

Power Jerk vs. Push Press

The core difference between the power jerk and the push press is that the push press utilises a less powerful version of the dip and drive whereas the power jerk requires not only a more explosive dip and drive, but also ankle extension, foot transition to the squat stance and a rebending of the knees after the driving phase.

Essentially the power jerk allows the lifter to lift heavier weight as it allows the weight to be caught at a lower position.

So if it’s true strength you’re after, the push press is better suited. If it’s power and explosiveness, the power jerk is better suited. You can read more about the Push Press here.

How to program the Power Jerk

I personally like to utilise the power jerk separately from the clean until I get close to a peak in my periodised program. I also never use the push press as I don’t feel it has any carryover to either powerlifting or weightlifting, so it can get to fuck.

If you’re after some rather generic numbers as to how many reps and sets to go for, I would say:

Sets: 3-6

Reps: 1-3

60 – 90% of the athlete’s 1RM [60-70% for speed work and 80-90% for power]. Fewer reps and sets for the heavier loads

Benefits of the Power Jerk

  • Upper Body Explosiveness and Power: Under heavy weights, you have to move as quickly and efficiently as possible
  • Bench Press Improvements: The weight lifted in the Jerk will help improve explosiveness under the bar and lockout
  • Core strength, Balance and Stability: Heavy weights require immense Core Stability and improve balance immeasurably
  • Improves Anaerobic Endurance: The Jerk trains explosive, short-lived power primarily training the ATP-CP energy system
  • Increase Endocrine Response: Getting under heavy weights boosts testosterone production and increases fat burning potential

How to Perform the Power Jerk

  1. Barbell in front rack position
  2. Dip and drive
  3. Drop under the bar as…
  4. Foot transition to squat stance* and push the head through
  5. Overhead Lockout

*The split jerk is where the front foot moves forward and the back foot back and up on the toes with a roughly even weight distribution

The Tall Power Jerk: Learning to push down under the barbell, the athlete will simultaneously drop under the bar and push upwards to lockout in the Overhead position.

  1. The athlete’s feet must be in the Drive position and the barbell in the front rack position
  2. Push the barbell up to the top of the head in the Partial Press position
  3. The athlete must quickly transition the feet to the Power (Squat) position
  4. Push the body down into a Quarter Squat
  5. Hold the receiving position to ensure stability and to train the body into this position

The Power Jerk: The athlete just needs to combine the aforementioned Dip and Drive with an aggressive pull down under the bar to move into the receiving position

  1. The athlete’s feet must be in the Drive position and weight on the heels
  2. Dip smoothly at the knees and Drive aggressively* against the floor. Core Stability and trunk pressure is critical here
  3. As the bar leaves the shoulders, the athlete must transition the feet as quickly as possible to the Squat position to initiate the drive
  4. Push down against the bar with the arms, moving the head backwards at first and pushing through at the end
  5. The athlete must finish in a Quarter Squat position with a tightly locked Overhead Position
  6. Elbows must be locked out Overhead as the feet finish the transition and reconnect with the floor in the Squat position
  7. The feet will land first; you will often hear an exaggerated noise as the athlete’s feet hit the floor. This is a well-versed cue for aggression and timing

*Every movement in the Olympic lifts must be aggressive. If you adhere to this advice you will continually improve.

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