Jerk Grip Width
What’s the best width for the jerk grip? The one that makes YOU jerk the most weight!
First, my default width for starting lifters is the same as the clean – about half a fist to a fist-width outside the shoulders, or the grip that places your forearms approximately vertical when you hold the bar at your shoulders.
Adjustment from here will depend on what you find works best for you, but your options are limited to what’s possible based in your proportions and mobility.
Wider grips will reduce the distance you have to elevate the bar and the depth you need to get under it, as well as lower the center of mass of the bar-lifter system when overhead, but will also produce more disadvantaged pressing mechanics for the arms and shoulders past a certain point, reduce the structural integrity of the overhead position somewhat, place greater strain on the wrists and elbows, increase the force each arm must bear due to increasing vector forces, and typically create more difficulty establishing a secure rack position.
A narrower grip will typically allow a more comfortable and secure rack position, optimize the pressing mechanics for the lifter’s drive under the bar, minimize vector forces to minimize the force each arm is resisting, and maximize the structural integrity of the overhead position. It will, however, require more elevation of the barbell and greater depth in the receiving position, and raise the center of mass of the bar-lifter system when overhead.
Another consideration with regard to grip width in the jerk is its effect on the elastic whip of the barbell during the dip and drive. A narrower grip maintains a smaller area of support for the barbell, which allows more bending and rebound, potentially improving the speed and elevation of the bar. If held tightly, a wider grip expands this area of support and reduces the whip of the barbell; in cases of very wide grips, it’s important the lifter maintain relative looseness in the arms during the dip and drive to allow the bar to whip as freely as possible.
Start with the basic position and don’t bother changing it unless you’re struggling with the jerk. Make incremental adjustments to avoid wrist and elbow pain.