As I said in one of my other posts, I am in the middle of the 8-week general cycle, and I have some questions. If some of my weaknesses persist or start to become more obvious as other areas improve, are there areas of flexibility in the cycle to allow for substitutions to hit weaknesses harder? Specifically, my main problem is with the jerk: my footwork is not consistent, and I am slow getting driving under the bar. I am also slow pulling under in the snatch and clean, but I know that the 3-pos. lifts are aiding in that. Are there exercises/drills I should be doing in place of others in the cycle to help with this problem? Would it be as simple as just swapping the power jerks for more split jerk practice? Any suggestions are appreciated.
I think something that would help you is adjusting your warmup.
My suggestion soul be working on those things while your warming up. If you have a snatch day, do some tall snatches to work on that speed (same thing with cleans). There are a couple of drills for the jerk that may help you, such as jerk balances or drops (the names of the exercises differ from region to region, but I'll explain).
The first drill you can do is with either a PVC pipe or the bar. Simply press the weight to a height a little higher than you'd normally find it after you finish your jerk drive. Ensure it's not forward of you and in the right position (using a bar would work well because you're shoulders will fatigue rapidly if the bar is too forward). From there, you're going to push yourself under the bar like you would in a jerk. You should foucs on powerfully pushing yourself under and your feet work during this time. As you feel more comfortable, decrease the starting height of the bar. Often times, I find myself starting with the bar on my shoulders and finishing in a jerk, almost like a snatch drop. It helps me get solid feet positioning and work on dipping my back knee to get lower in a jerk.
The other exercise you can do begins with you in a little less than normal split position with the bar on your shoulders. Dip the back knee while ensuring your torso remains upright. Move the head out of the way and drive back up, simulating a jerk drive. The bar will leave your shoulders and give you an opportunity to push under the bar and extend that lead foot a little more out. This helps you feel out proper positioning as well.
I hope those make sense. There are others involving bands and such, but I think you should give those a shot before you go that route. These exercises work very well. The band drills are a little cumbersome to get ready and you need some heavy fixture to tie them down to; on top of the fact that you might be a lone lifter, it can get a little dicey if you don't have someone there with you.
Javi's suggestions are really great ones. The good thing is that you can work foot positioning on the jerk a LOT with an empty bar. You can even work it without a bar, so if you are so inclined, you can throw some split jerks in throughout the day wherever you are. Nothing better than scaring the crap out of strangers with random invisible bar split jerks...
You should press the bar up to a certain height. My progression usually starts with the bar roughly three inches above my head, then to the top of my head, then to about eye level, then from resting on my shoulders. Your feet will be positioned like they are during the jerk drive; you can even get on your toes to simulate actual extension.
From those different heights, you're going to push yourself underneath the bar and get into a split position; that is, you're NOT driving the bar up any further. When I see people do this drill, they tend to push the bar upward, which defeats the purpose of the drill. Your goal is to push yourself DOWN. The height the bar starts is supposed to simulate the height the bar traveled up from your jerk drive. The depth of your jerk will depend on the bar's starting height.
Remember that we want to beat the bar down and have it in a position overhead where we're most stable and able to support the weight. We want to receive the bar (the same applies for the snatch and clean) at that moment of weightlessness; any downward force (damn gravity) when you're receiving other than when it's in the proper receiving position (cradled overhead in the snatch and jerk, or on the shoulders in the clean) is going to either a) throw you off balance and make your recovery harder, or b) cause you to miss the lift.
I hope that helps you understand the drill a little better.
It absolutely did. This is kind of what I was imagining, but I wanted to make sure, and this clarification helped. I'd say this will help me a whole lot because with my jerks it's a combo my feet not splitting as wide as they should, me trying to get the bar higher than I should have to, and me not getting down. It all results in a slow dip and drive with a very abrupt catch. I can't stand watching it haha.
Should I do anything as far as tweaking actual exercises? Adding jerks to the end of my power cleans or something along these lines?
I'm not there to watch you, but if you're having a slow dip AND drive, then leg strength might be something to work on as well.
There are certain factors to keep in mind (back and stomach tight/locked down, short yet controlled dip, explosive drive and change of direction, aiming the bar towards the back of your neck), but if you feel you're slow, your squatting will help, in addition to maybe some jerk dip and drives with some heavier weights, jumping back squats, and heavy 1/4 squats.
The addition of those movements is getting into different philosophies and approaches (purists vs. others that prefer strengthening/auxiliary movements, Bulgarian vs. Russian/Chinese). In addition, you may end up loading yourself with way too much work and not allow yourself to recover properly. If you're on the 8-week general cycle because you're new to the sport and its movements, I wouldn't worry about altering your program; keep the course and see how things turn out after the eight weeks, then make adjustments off of that.
To clarify, it's moreso that the dip is slow, but the drive is faster. I've tried speeding the dip up, but it takes me a bit out of position. I'm hoping this is just something that will speed up with time. After watching my jerk, it looks like the dip/drive is alright (nothing great), but my feet just hit the ground too soon and too narrow. This keeps me from getting the bar back. I'll have to post a video later today when I can.
I think it's a good idea for me to just stay the course like you said. I can make changes later on after I have a better picture of what I need to focus some increased efforts towards.
You want to keep your dip controlled, not necessarily slow. I have (had?) an issue where I was way too fast to dip. The bar would leave my shoulders as I descended, only to crash back onto them as I drove upward. It definitely caused me to lose tension in my upper back and shifted the bar's path forward. I think you're going in the right direction, both with respect to the jerk and staying the course with your program.
When you get a chance, post a video and I/we can give you a little more insight.
Ok, so there may be a lot more problems than what I can see/feel, so just let me know. The main thing I know is they just donʻt look right for what that is worth. All of these were done on Saturday following cleans. Dropping weight in there is frowned upon, and thatʻs why I only did when it got heavier and I was tired of smacking my thighs.