Thursday, August 2, 2012

Vertical Torso in the Jerk

The key to a successful jerk is keeping the torso as vertical as possible while generating as much force onto the bar as possible.  When it comes to jerking, however, there is a tendency to push the weight forward as opposed to straight up off the shoulders.  This results in either a missed or a very unstable lift.  Typically, jerks are pushed out in front due to a slight inclination of the torso.  If this sounds like what you're doing, then you're in luck.  Here are a couple tips for you to take to your next training session:

1) Start with your knees unlocked.  In a recent article on, Hall of Fame Weightlifting Coach, Bob Takano, breaks down a video he took of a female weightlifter at the 2011 Nationals who starts with her knees locked.  Bob explains that "when the jerk dip is initiate in this way, the first joint to bend is at the hips.  Now the torso is inclined slightly forward and it is difficult to generate a powerful drive with the legs."  Starting with knees unlocked, or "soft", will allow you to initiate the jerk dip with knees, not the hip, and help keep the torso more vertical.

2) Drive the knees out.  I see a lot of beginners push the knees forward.  As the weight gets heavier, dipping with the knees forward doesn't allow you to dip straight down, resulting in a forward inclination of the torso.  There is also a tendency for the heels to leave the ground too early.  If the heels come up and you are on the balls of your feet too soon, you lose the ability to generate maximal force.

Set your stance with soft knees (as we talked about above) and turn your toes ever so slightly out.  When you dip, drive the knees out over the toes and explode up.  The knees out creates a pocket for the hips to dip straight down into, allowing for a more upright torso and optimal force production.

Next time you train and are working on jerks, keep it simple and just remember these two cues: "soft knees" and "knees out".  Easy.

Pay attention to the last 5 sequence shots.  Unlocked knees and knees out on the dip!

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