Following the clean, it seems people either struggle with the jerk or it is merely a second thought after catching the clean. Rarely is someone decent or good at the jerk, the categories of jerk proficiency are limited to poor jerk or great jerk.
A complete write up of the jerk is not possible for a quick blog post, but for the lifters that fall into the poor jerk category (which is many more than you might suspect), many problems can be corrected by first correcting the initial phase of the jerk.
The jerk is basically four movements: the Dip, Drive, Split, and Recovery. These should be self explanatory, but the dip is squatting down and the drive is extending up, the split is the position of the feet when the bar is received overhead, which is followed by the recovery, where you bring your feet back in line.
The initial phase, in this instance, is the Dip:
The dip should occur fast, under control, and with a consistent velocity. The feet should be flat, with pressure through the middle to heel portion of the shoe.
The barbell should not lose contact with the upper chest during the dip, and the hands/ fingers are on the barbell mainly for position. The arms are not supporting the barbell, but really just keeping it in place.
No need for a ruler, but a general rule of thumb suggests the dip should occur by lowering the bar, through hip and knee flexion, a distance equal to about 10 percent of the athlete's overall height. (5’8” lifter = a little less than 7 inches; a 6’0” lifter a little more than 7 inches). Any drastic difference may cause a problem.
Elbows are positioned under the barbell (see photo), and are not to rotate during the dip. Many coaches reinforce athletes’ keeping the elbows “up” or straight ahead to allow the lifter to maintain a more upright torso. Watching the top lifters in the world the past few years, it seems everyone has started to lean towards pointing the elbows down toward the platform.
The reversal between dip and drive is a continuous movement, and not a stop between deceleration and acceleration. Use the potential energy general during the dip to power through the drive phase. Jerk with your hips and legs, and not with your arms.
A future post may address the other 3 phases of the jerk. In the mean time, we can all watch the jerk perfection that is Wes Barnett…