The jerk is the second part of the second of the two lifts—the snatch and the clean & jerk—contested in the sport of weightlifting (AKA Olympic weightlifting). The athlete lifts the barbell from the shoulders to a locked-out position overhead.
The term clean & jerk
implies the lifter’s competition jerk style unless explicitly noted otherwise. The split jerk is the most common of the three jerk styles used in competition.
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 in the jerk rack position—bar in between the throat and highest point of the shoulders; shoulders protracted and slightly elevated; hands as deep under the bar as possible; grip relaxed; elbows down but in front of the bar and out to the sides.
Dip by bending at the knees only with the trunk vertical and maintaining your balance 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 up and slightly back with the arms to preserve as much bar speed as possible, and quickly move the feet into the split position as you punch the elbows into a secure overhead position. Secure and stabilize the bar before recovering from the split into a standing position with the bar still overhead.
Learn to Jerk
Because the split jerk is the overwhelmingly dominant competitive jerk style, the term jerk
implies split jerk except for athletes who use a different style as their primary jerk.
The primary purpose of the jerk is as part of one of the two competitive lifts in the sport of weightlifting. As a training exercise, it serves weightlifters as a way to train for the lift in competition by training technique, strength, speed and all of the other qualities needed for the lift. For other athletes, it can be used to develop power, speed, precision, mobility and overhead strength.
Programming of the jerk 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%. Weightlifters will typically perform jerks in some form at least 2-3 days per week and as frequently as every training session.
For in-depth program design for weightlifting, see my online training programs
, or my book Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches.
There many variations of the jerk, but primarily there are the two other receiving styles: power/push jerk and squat jerk. Jerks can be done with a pause in the dip, or from behind the neck.
1-Minute Jerk Tutorial
Power vs Split vs Squat Jerk
Dip & Drive Styles
How to Dip Correctly
Find Your Split Stance