Power Jerk Behind The Neck
The power jerk behind the neck can help strengthen and reinforce proper overhead position for the jerk, strengthen the upper back in particular, and improve the timing and extent of the drive.
Stand with the heels approximately hip-width and the toes turned out, with the weight balanced slightly more toward the heels but the full foot in contact with the floor. Hold the bar on the traps behind the neck as you would for a back squat with your jerk grip. Brace the trunk and retract the shoulder blades forcefully.
Dip by bending at the knees only with the trunk as vertical as possible. There will be a slight forward inclination with the bar behind the neck, but the angle should never change throughout the entire lift.
Maintain your balance and dip to a depth of approximately 10% of your height. Brake as quickly as possible in the bottom and drive straight back up aggressively with the legs to accelerate the barbell upward maximally.
As you finish the extension of the legs, push the bar straight up with the arms to preserve as much bar speed as possible, and quickly move the feet out into the power receiving position and squat partially as you punch the elbows into a secure overhead position.
With the bar starting behind the neck, the trunk angle doesn’t need to change, and the bar should move straight up.
Secure and stabilize the bar before recovering to standing with the bar still overhead.
The natural tendency with a jerk behind the neck is to sit the hips back and lean the chest forward in the dip; while the position of the bar does require the trunk to lean forward very slightly, it should never lean any farther forward during the lift.
Lifters with poor shoulder and/or thoracic mobility may not be able to perform jerks from behind the neck—avoid it if there is any pain or discomfort and you’re unable to press smoothly into position.
The power jerk behind the neck eliminates the complication of moving the bar back and the chest forward into position as you move the bar overhead, and allows the bar to move directly vertically, which means it’s easier to achieve the ideal overhead position and balance in the split. This makes it helpful for teaching and remediation.
It also provides a stronger and more comfortable platform for the bar, making it much easier to dip and drive more powerfully and be able to drive completely, making it helpful to train the correct rhythm of the lift with a complete drive.
Programming of the power jerk behind the neck varies based on numerous factors such as the athlete’s needs, the timing (i.e. proximity to competition), the focus of the program at that time, etc. Generally speaking, sets will be 1-3 reps at anywhere from 70-100% of best power jerk, with potential to exceed it. It can be used as the primary jerk exercise in a training session, or combined with normal power jerks or split jerks to apply the better drive to them. It can also be used as technique primer to improve subsequent jerks in the session.
Power jerks behind the neck can be done with a pause in the dip.