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.

 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 Jerk Balance

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
  5. Keep abdominal muscles tensed as much as possible.

The movement begins with a short upward thrusting action to elevate the barbell from the shoulders over the head. Simulaneously, as the bar is lifted upwards, the athlete must drop fast into a lower position facilitated by a small amount of forward movement of the front foot which must be fast and low to the ground.

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

  1. The front shin should be vertical.
  2. The back knee is bent.
  3. The body remains upright (vertical).
  4. The front foot moves a short distance forward in a fast stabbing action low to the ground.
  5. Back foot remains straight, and on the ball of the foot (as shown in position B)
  6. Abdominal muscles are tensed to keep pelvis stable.

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 along the ground, rather than a stepping action in which the foot is raised from the ground. 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.

Correct Practise is Essential

The Jerk Balance is a key exercise for learning the Jerk receiving position provided it is correctly practised. To perform correctly, the learner must feel as if the back knee is constrained in a plaster cast and cannot be straightened. The learner must also feel that there is more weight on the back leg than the front leg. The athlete should start in a low position and stay in low position.

Further reading on the Jerk

The technique of the Jerk

Key issues in the Jerk

Learning good Jerk technique

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