Exercise Library
Squat Jerk

The squat jerk is the rarest of the three competition jerk styles because of its unsuitability for most athletes, and has limited utility as a training exercise for other lifters. The lift involves a full-depth squat—if the athlete stops and stands before the thighs move past horizontal, it’s a power or push jerk.
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.
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 punch the elbows into a secure overhead position to drive yourself down into a squat. Note that the squat jerk can be performed keeping the feet in place on the floor throughout, or moving them from a narrower drive to wider squat stance.
Secure and stabilize the bar before recovering into a standing position with the bar overhead.
There is exactly one benefit of the squat jerk, which is that it requires the least bar elevation… and the good news stops there. The drawbacks are that it demands the most mobility from the entire body, involves the most difficult recovery, and has an extremely small margin of error—and each of these is a complete dealbreaker on its own. This is only a good choice if you happen to be a person with no mobility limitations, who is consistently very precise, and who has very strong legs to recover from a pause jerk-grip overhead squat after a maximal effort clean… but also can’t drive the bar up in the jerk to save your life.
The primary purpose is as a lifter’s chosen style of jerk in competition. As a training exercise for athletes who don’t use it in competition, it has fairly limited utility. It can be used to train overhead strength and stability for the jerk and even snatch to some degree, as a way to improve mobility in the bottom position (although there are better choices for this), and as some variety in training to have fun or keep a lifter mentally fresh. Because the limiter is the transition from the rack position to the overhead position, it’s a poor choice as a training exercise for overhead work—it makes far more sense to use the clean-grip overhead squat or a squat jerk behind the neck, AKA clean-grip snatch balance. Both of these allow an easier transition to the overhead position and encourage a more solid one, thereby allowing the athlete to handle heavier weights and produce more effective results.
Sets of 1-3 reps are suggested with weights anywhere from 70% to the lifter’s maximum squat jerk. Generally this exercise should be performed following any snatch variants and possibly before clean variants depending on what the intended emphasis of the workout is. With light weights, it can be used to work on overhead stability and mobility before a jerk workout.
The squat jerk can be performed by moving the feet from a drive stance out to a squat stance like a power jerk, or without the feet leaving the floor like a push jerk. It can also be performed from behind the neck, in which case it may be referred to as either a squat jerk behind the neck or clean/jerk/close-grip snatch balance.
See Also
The 3 Jerk Styles
1-Minute Jerk Tutorial
Rack Position
Overhead Position
Dip & Drive Styles
How to Dip Correctly -
Find Your Split Stance

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Joshua Cowart
December 28 2016
I have the mobility required for this style of jerk and I'm interested in training to use it.I've been doing squat jerk behind the neck and from the front. My question is what other exercises besides the squat jerk itself will help me get stronger at this? Or is it as simple as just doing lots of squat jerking?
Jerk-grip overhead squats and power/push jerks.

Greg Everett
Alta Fine
October 17 2020
Why can I snatch and squat low but when I have to do a squat jerk I can't for the life of me go below parallel? Should I use a snatch grip width?
Narrower grip = more demand on mobility. The question is WHY are you doing a squat jerk? If it's not the best jerk varation for you (it clearly is not), the only possible reason would be to get some variety and overhead mobility work... and if you can't even go below parallel, there's no reason to be squat jerking for that - clean-grip OHS makes more sense because you can control it better, get more time in the "stretch" because of a complete loaded eccentric movement, and can meter the depth better to gradually work on increasing it.

Greg Everett