In my opinion, the jerk is the most under appreciated lift in the sport of olympic weightlifting. Let it be known that this is entirely because I’ve always been great at them.
As much as I love jerks, I can understand why people may not agree. We spend a lot of time in our squat stance… whether we jump into that squat stance or not, it’s a very comfortable, strong position for most people. Where as the split stance position is often foreign and uncomfortable… especially when we have to JUMP into it!
We have covered the footwork on the split and we know that it is critical to master the footwork in order to feel comfortable and confident in the movement.
Today, I want to touch on the importance of the dip and drive.
The dip of the jerk is all about body position and timing. If we can gain a greater understanding of what the proper body position is and what our tempo should be on the dip and drive, the jerk becomes (almost) effortless.
The beautiful thing about the jerk is that when we dip, drive, and then receive the bar overhead, our shoulders and hips stay in a straight line the whole entire time (hopefully).
When I look at an athlete performing the jerk from the side, I want to see their shoulders stacked directly above their hips. This tells me that their weight is centered on their hips and they can support significantly more weight overhead.
The minute I see their shoulders lean forward in front of their hips, they are then fighting to keep that bar from pulling them forward on the dip, drive, and receive.
While positioning is SO important, so is the tempo in which we dip and drive. Because people have a tendency to not love the jerk, when they stand up from a clean, their automatic goal is to get that bar off their shoulders and up over their head as quick as possible. This generally results in a rushed, choppy, jerky (pun intended!) movement.
“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” is a great cue for the dip and drive. If we want to be aggressive and fierce and explosive on our drive, we have to trust that a slightly slower, controlled dip is going to set us up to be able to do so…mainly because we can then use the energy of the bar (that slight bar bend), to whip the bar up over our head!
The next time you prepare to jerk, take a deep breath in and notice how the rise in your chest causes the bar to move and bounce a little. We want that bar to STOP moving and SETTLE before we go into our dip. Failing to do so will cause the bar to move out of sync with your dip and drive… and that just gets awkward.
So, BREATHE IN, SETTLE (should take about 2 seconds), JERK.