Role of the hips in the jerk
Alright guys, I ran into a little contention over at the crossfit messageboard about this. I believe someone asked whether or not the hips come back any during the dip/drive of the jerk. I hadn't done much research at the time, but I know that the lifters at my place naturally let their hips come back slightly followed by a strong extension before dipping under the bar.
Now, what I heard from most people over at CrossFit was that you should keep your torso as vertical as possible, and not bring the hips back, so the bar doesn't drop forward, and you maintain the straightest bar path. This bothered me for a few reasons, and I'd like your thoughts.
1) The vertical torso/no hips back (I have to think of a better word for it!) postition would have to limit the involvement of the hamstrings/posterior chain. All other movements in weightlifting depend on these muscles, why not carry over to the jerk?
2) While keeping a vertical torso and allowing the knees to come forward, I felt the weight roll to the balls of my feet. Allowing my hips to come back, things still felt "nice", and I could feel the weight over my heels.
3) I may be wrong here, but is a straight bar path the most efficient? Seeing the bar path for both the clean and snatch in experienced lifters, it certainly is never a perfectly straight line! Sadly our bodies don't conform to nice straight lines.
Lastly, I had two lifters try both versions with moderate weights, and both felt like it took a stronger effort to get the weight up keeping a vertical torso.
I'm going to pull this quote from an article on jerk technique, from www.dynamic-eleiko.com:
"The hips shift backward during this movement to counter balance the "toppling over" effect of the barbell.
If the lifter bends the knees for the half squat with the trunk in a vertical disposition, the common center of gravity of the athlete barbell system will shift forward along with the knees and ankles (40). This can reduce the effectiveness of the muscles of the lower extremities because the barbell shifts at a slight angle away from the lifter and increases the moment force on the aforementioned muscle groups. This, in turn, further increases the "toppling over" effect. "
As my coach says, get your ass back in your dip. Keep the weight on your heels.
Who was saying keep your ass under you? Wouldn't you move you ass back a little when you were jumping, squatting, anything?
Casey Burgener, side view, 218kg C&J:
Doesn't look to me like his hips go "back" at all, and it looks like the weight stays over his heels.
If the hips actually move back, something has to counter that movement (shoulders and bar then go forward).
If you were trying to do the dip in a vertical fashion and you felt the weight move towards the balls of your feet, I'd say something is off somewhere. Maybe you were actually leaning slightly back without realizing it, causing the weight to move forward on the feet?
I may have been unclear... it's about getting your ass into it, not cranking your torso forward and your hips back. Your butt kind of has to stick out (back) otherwise you couldn't engage your big butt muscles, right? A nice arch sticks your ass out anyway. It's why men like women in high heels.
This is the kind of thing that internet discussions confuse or people over think. This kind of thing doesn't seem to ever come up in the gym. Coaches just walk up and put their hands you and correct you.
Some successful lifters do push their hips back slightly - but they also have really shitty jerk technique that's saved only by ridiculous strength. Every lifter who does this pushes the bar forward and must walk into it and muscle it back overhead. This is extremely difficult and is certainly not advisable.
The jerk is not a snatch or a clean - it's a jerk. That said, you'll notice that the ending positions of the snatch and clean have the lifter's body inclined backward in order to maintain the balance of the system because the bar is in front of the body. In the jerk, the bar can be centered over the base without a backward lean, but because it's forward of the spine, there's a moment on the back/hip that must be resisted during the dip/drive.
The hips should travel straight down and straight up. It will feel extremely awkward, and it will be nearly entirely quad and a little glute - virtually no hamstrings. But the movement is dictated by the position necessary. The athlete already has to drive the body forward through teh arms in order to reposition himself under the bar when receiving - if he pushes the bar forward as well it's unlikley he'll be able to cover the distance.
Finally, it's a pretty solid rule that if you can get away with pushing the hips back in the jerk, you're not jerking enough weight. Remember that any weight you can handle easily can be lifted with just about any technique - if that technique is more similar to other things you do (e.g back squat with hips back), it will feel "good" - but it won't hold up when you get to loads you can't fake.
Absolutely fantastic observation/advice.
Anytime I end up under a good load, when I'm jerking, I end up pressing it out and it's for the very reasons you've delineated above. The flaws show up when the limit is pushed.
All the best,
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