Perfecting the push jerk may sound like a simple process, but it requires a very exact movement and a lot of commitment under the bar. We take a closer look at the push jerk and how you can increase your PB by following some simple tips…
From the start, when you rack the bar you need to ensure that you have the right grip width and correct positioning.
The best setup is where your hands sit just outside of your shoulders, maybe a fist-width outside. You need to have a full grip of the bar, so that the bar sits in the palm of your hands and not on your knuckles or finger tips.
Next, your arm position needs to be spot on to insure the right power transfer. Your elbows need to be pushed forwards of your shoulders and outwards, which means you’ll almost puff out your chest as a result. Note though that your arms must be relaxed and not tensed up.
You need to have your midline braced – to do this you need to squeeze your abs tightly and pull your ribcage downwards. You need to lock-out your knees and squeeze your thighs and butt tight. This will all help keep your midline tight and your positioning spot on.
Finally, you need to ensure your standing width is correct. You need to be in a power position, so your feet are just outside of your hips, about the same width as your shoulders or just outside. Your toes can point slightly outwards, especially if you have any ankle mobility issues.
Ultimately, the dip and force you use to push up is what will allow you to get under the bar and lock-up – the heavier the weight, the lower you’ll be able to push that weight upwards, meaning the lower you’ll need to get under the bar.
The force you exert comes from your legs and establishing the right depth will help you utilize your full potential and power. Some studies show that you need to dip around 10% of your height. Dipping too low will not help and power loss will result in you not being able to exert the right force upwards. Going to shallow will result in the same thing.
The other important aspect of the dip is how you are positioned throughout the process. When you dip, it should look like you’re sliding your back down a wall – your back and chest should maintain an upright position. If you drop your elbows and chest forward at any point, you’ll likely force the bar forwards and you’ll miss the lift.
Your knees bow outwards, not forwards, just like you would in a squat when you descend – the only major difference is that you do not pop your hips and butt backwards.
You also need to control your dip but be explosive and fast when pushing upwards. See it as two phases of the dip – a slow controlled dip and then a fast aggressive change in direction upwards. There is no pause or complete stop when direction is changed.
The most important thing here to note is that the shorter the time spent dipping and explosively pushing back up, the better your force will be, the more stable you’ll be and you’ll maintain better positioning throughout.
After the bar has changed direction and is accelerated and is now on its way up, you need to be prepared to commit and get under the bar to receive it.
The bar should be moving in a straight line down and up, so as it comes up and off your shoulders you need to pin your head backwards and let the bar pass your face (close enough to smell it!). You need to move around the bar and not the other way around.
At this point you need to push yourself under the bar, forcing the bar upwards and yourself downwards, and you need to get into a semi-squat position with your arms locked out and supporting the bar. You won’t need to change your feet position, so you do not need to jump outwards into a full squat width stance.
In the semi-squat, your hips and butt now need to be pushed backwards and your knees outwards – just like a normal squat. At this point you want to push your head through and forwards, committing to the lift – just don’t try forcing your head too far forwards, potentially comprising your shoulder and chest position.
Your shoulders need to be locked and your elbow-pits need to be facing the sky – if your shoulders are not active and your elbows are turned the wrong way, you’ll struggle to hold the weight overhead. From here, you just need to stand to lock-out and then ensure you’re in control to finish.