How to: Jerk

jerk dip position

The jerk is an excellent total-body exercise for improving power production, postural strength, overhead stability, and eccentric strength.

The key feature of this lift has to be the explosive triple extension (hips, knees and ankles) in order to force the bar upward. Including movements such as the jerk into an individuals programme will help improve power output and thus develop vertical jump performance which has a strong correlation with sprint speeds (Shalfawi, et al., 2011).

Another benefit to performing the jerk has to be the potential for increasing eccentric strength due to the high forces experienced during the landing or "receive" phase of the lift. In this case, the jerk will help improve eccentric strength unilaterally on the basis that it is carried out with a split stance landing. Greater eccentric strength will not only help prevent injury but may also improve change of direction speed (Jones, Bampouras & Marrin, 2009).

Start Position:

  1. The entire weight of the bar should rest across the anterior deltoids and clavicle.

  2. Elbows should be elevated so that they are infront of the bar.

  3. Weight should be distributed through the heels.

  4. Trunk should be upright, braced with the eyes looking slightly upward.

The Dip:

  1. Keep the trunk vertical and bend at the knee slightly.

  2. Weight should remain through the heels.

  3. Body should remain vertical. Imagine as though you are keeping the back flat against a wall.

  4. Do not dip too low as this will cause an excessive forward lean.

The Drive:

  1. Without pausing at the bottom of the dip, explosively extend at the hips, knees and ankles to drive the bar upward.

  2. At the top of the drive, begin to split the legs and punch the bar upwards.

The Receive:

  1. In a split stance, the landing should be carried out so that the weight is through the heel of the front foot and the ball of the rear.

  2. The split stance should be set so that the feet are positioned in opposite corners of an imaginary box.

  3. For stability, the foot of the front leg may be turned inward slightly.

  4. The bar should be above the crown of the head with the arms locked-out.

jerk foot position

The Recovery:

  1. Ensuring a stable trunk whilst keeping the bar above the crown, take a step back with the front foot, and a step forward with the rear.

  2. The movement is complete with the bar stable overhead with the feet in-line.

Training Volume:

Due to the complexity of the movement, repetitions should remain low to ensure that exercise technique does decline. This is also important for developing power as fatigue will have a negative affect on bar speed. I recommend that you keep repetitions to between three and five per set.

Give it a go and let me know what you think. It would be great to hear your views, so feel free to email me on or message me on either facebook or twitter.

Author: Karl Page


Jones, P., Bampouras, T. M. and Marrin, K., 2009. An investigation into the physical determinants of change of direction speed. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 49(1), pp. 97-104.

Shalfawi, S. A. I., Sabbah, A., Kailani, G., Tonnessen, E. & Enoksen, E., 2011. The relationship between running speed and measures of vertical jump in professional basketball players: a field-test approach. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(11), pp. 3088-3092.

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