The Jerk Balance

Purpose of the Jerk Balance

The Jerk Balance is a useful exercise that assists the athlete to master the receiving position for the Jerk. However, it is recommended that the Jerk Balance exercise is included in the beginner training program only after a measure of proficiency has been achieved in the Split Squat exercise.

Figure 1: The Jerk Balance
Figure 1: The Jerk Balance

 Benefit for Beginners/Novices

A good reason to include the Jerk Balance in the beginner program is that it simplifies the problem of learning the difficult receiving position for the Jerk. This simplification is necessary because it is hard for the beginner to learn the precise movement of the feet to achieve the Split Jerk position, while at the same time trying to concentrate on keeping the torso straight, keeping the rear knee bent and moving the bar overhead.

Benefit for Intermediate and Advanced Athletes

The Jerk Balance is predominantly an exercise for teaching beginners the correct receiving position for the Jerk. However, for intermediate and advanced athletes, this exercise can be used to create some variety in the training program. It is a relatively difficult exercise to perform with weights above 70% of best Clean & Jerk and will give the experienced athlete who is unused to the exercise quite a test. A key value of performing the Jerk Balance is to focus on keeping the back leg bent in the receiving position, which is an aspect of technique that many Weightlifters find hard to master. The reason for focusing on keeping the back leg bent, is the effect this has on avoiding anterior pelvic rotation, a significant problem is the Jerk.

How to Perform

The start position for the movement is as in position A above. The position is almost the Jerk receiving position except that the bar is still on the shoulders.

Key coaching points are:

  1. Keep torso upright
  2. Start with knee well bent (as shown)
  3. Ensure the front foot is far enough forward so that the shin is vertical
  4. Back foot is straight

The movement begins with a short thrust upwards as shown in position B. This is to elevate the barbell and gain some upward momentum. As the bar is lifted upwards from the shoulder, some small forward movement of the front foot is allowed but the back foot does not move. Any forward movement of the front foot must be fast and low to the ground.

The finishing position is shown at C, with the bar locked out overhead. It is desirable if the front foot has moved forward a distance 10-20cms. The key coaching points are much the same as the starting position:

  1. The front shin is vertical.
  2. The back knee is bent
  3. The body is upright (vertical)
  4. The front foot slides a short distance forward low to the ground
  5. Back foot remains straight, and on the ball of the foot (as shown in position C)

The athlete should be strongly discouraged from pushing their head forwards under the bar as this will cause a forward lean of the trunk and a loss of balance, with a likelihood of the weight being lost forwards. The athlete should also be encouraged to think of the front foot as sliding forwards, rather than looping upwards in the action of moving forwards. This low trajectory of the front foot assists in moving the foot faster and is another valuable reason to utilise this exercise in training programs for all levels of experience.