In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Fitness Athlete lead faculty Mitch Babcock takes a deep dive into the jerk, discussing the importance of learning a strong leg drive, improving shoulder mobility, and committing to a strong finish with the movement.
Take a listen to the episode or read the episode transcription below.
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Good morning, everybody. Welcome to PT on ice Daily Show. I’m your host, Mitch Babcock from the Fitness Athlete Division. That means it’s Fitness Athlete Friday, and I’m stoked to be back on the podcast, bringing to you another episode, this time going into some nuanced stuff around the jerk. So stay tuned for some more details around how to make your jerk a little bit better. Today’s topic, don’t be a jerk with your jerks. Before we get into that team, first of all, I’m wearing my Lions shirt. Did you watch the game last night? Of course you did. Thursday night football. Let’s go Lions. It’s been a long, hard existence being a Lions fan. So we’re out here stoked that we got t01:27 MITCH BABCOCK
hree wins already on the season. Other news, non-football related, is that the fitness athlete team is going to be around the country coming up real fast here next weekend. Joe and myself are going to be out in Linwood, Washington, and we’re rocking a big course out there. So if there’s still time, if you want to slide in just under the cap of that course out in Linwood, if you’re in the Seattle or greater Seattle area, we’d love to have you out at that course. We also have some courses coming up in the southern region. We’ve got San Antonio, Texas. And we’ve got Anna Maria Island in Florida. So if you’re looking at Florida or a Texas course, we’ve got two of those in store for you coming up in the month of November. So otherwise, welcoming in the fall season here today.
01:43 MAKING YOUR JERK BETTER
And today’s topic around don’t be a jerk with your jerks. We just finished up a nice May cycle where we did a lot of snatching and clean and jerking for the last eight weeks. and giving my members of the gym as many helpful tools as I can as a coach and an athlete of what’s helped me with my shoulder overhead, specifically the push jerk in this cycle, but all of these principles also apply for the split jerk as well. And I see this done wrong or at least thought about wrong a lot. I figured it was helpful to share with you guys, whether that’s from a personal standpoint as an athlete, you’re out there training in the gym yourself and you’re like, hey, This is sweet. I hate jerks. I hate split jerks or push jerks. And I want to get better at those. Or if you want to be able to pass that on to your clients or members, hopefully this will be helpful. So the first thing I want to talk about is what not to do. Don’t press your jerks.
03:37 THE JERK HAS LITTLE TO DO WITH ACTUAL PRESSING
The push jerk and the split jerk is not about how much you can press vertically. It has little to anything to do with actually pressing the bar vertically over your head. Think about what your one rep max strict press is. Ladies is usually somewhere in the ballpark of 60 to 100 pounds. Men, somewhere in the ballpark of 100 to 200 pounds of a strict press. And yet people are able to do almost twice as much as that when it comes to a jerk movement. It is not about your strength to move the bar off of your shoulder and press. So stop thinking of it like you need to push the bar up. The jerk is about pushing yourself under. That requires a couple things. One, specifically the legs. You need to start thinking about your legs way more than your shoulders on your jerks. It is all about your legs’ ability to launch the bar off of your shoulders enough that you can then press your way under the jerk. Again, goes for the push jerk or the split jerk. So when you’re in setup position, you’ve stood up that heavy clean and you’re ready to make the jerk. Hopefully make the jerk. You need to be thinking about how much leg drive can I create vertically on this bar right now to launch this thing as far off my shoulders as possible. That means I need strong legs. I need to be better at my front squat. Specifically, when I stand up out of a heavy front squat, I need to be powerful in the finish as I’m standing and finishing that lift. So that’s something that you can be training on days that you’re not jerking at all, but be thinking about that last little third of the squat. Standing it up with a little power, with a little speed, and learning how to create really rapid short triple extension. Power cleans, same thing. Rapid triple extension at the top, but all we’re trying to create here is more powerful legs. You can work on just dip and drives. It’s a very common drill for Olympic lifters to work on. Get a bar in the front rack position. You just dip, hold, and just create a slight little bit of triple extension coming out. Dip, hold, create triple extension coming out. The focus point on the jerk needs to be on a strong leg drive. Now, once you get that to occur, then the press is actually you pushing your body under. It’s just pushing myself down to a supported arm position. The shoulder is strong if it can meet the load in its locked out position. It’s significantly less strong when it has to do any sort of motion to try to press out that kind of weight. So the quicker you are to press yourself down and support, the heavier of a jerk you’ll be able to have, because it’s just about supporting the load, not about pressing the load.
07:01 SHOULDER MOBILITY & THE JERK
That requires shoulder mobility. And this is the big downfall to your split jerk is likely either A, you’ve been thinking about trying to press it over your head this whole time instead of jumping over your head. And B, your shoulders are too dang tight to really get into that full 180 degrees of flexion lockout arm position. You’re trying to press it out in front and that’s killing you, right? So you gotta open up that shoulder mobility. And you guys are the experts at doing this. Mitch, what do you like to do to open up your shoulders right before I’m weightlifting. I’m not talking about a PT session. I’m talking about something members can do out in the gym, boom, in real time to open up that double arm overhead position. I want to use a green band, but I don’t want to do a single arm. I want to do double arm. And so rather than looping the band and attaching it to the pull-up bar like we normally do, I want to drape the band around the bar in this fashion. This is a poor example, but you get what I’m trying to say. I just, I don’t want to half hitch it at all. I want to just loop it over the bar and have the band hanging down. I’m going to put both my hands through the band and I’m going to spin around. If you’re watching this, this is a great I hope you’re having fun with this because I’m spinning right now. I’m going to do like three circles and what that’s going to do is wind up that band. So I’ve got it looped over the bar and I wound it up by doing three circles in it. My hands are now held in this double overhead position and I’m going to kneel down on the ground from that position. I’m going to start to have the band pulling my shoulders, essentially both arms, right near my ears at this point. When I’m down there kneeling on the ground, hands overhead and hooked to the band, now I can start to add some side bending into this position, which really starts to peel on this lateral seam of my arm, coming down to thoracolumbar fascia, up into the tricep area. I can side bend left, side bend right, and even add in a little upper back T-spine extension to that drill. It is the best opener I have found recently to get my shoulders ready to push jerk. because I’m hanging out in the exact position, an exaggerated version of it, but the exact position I want to finish my jerk in, which is the head through, the T-spine up and extended, and the arms behind my ears. So when you’re thinking about pushing yourself under the bar, make sure your shoulder mobility is opened up so that you can do that. Okay, so what do we got so far? Strong leg drive, Don’t press your jerks. Instead, push yourself under your jerks and make sure your shoulder mobility is on board for you to do that really well.
10:47 IMPROVING JERK TECHNIQUE
And the last thing you need to think about, the only really cue I’m thinking after I think jump is I think head through. I think jump and I think head through. Too many people are scared to put their head through on a heavy jerk. They’re committing to failing it and therefore they’re committing to self-preservation. And so what they do is they jerk and they leave their head back behind the bar and they’re like, if it works, cool, then I’ll bring my head through. But if it doesn’t, I can bail quickly and easy. That is just committing to failing the rep right from the start. You have to know that if this goes bad and I’m still pushing my head through and I can quickly get out and underneath the bar if I fail it. You’re, trust me, you’re athletic enough to move out of the way of the bar. I’ve seen it a number of hundreds and hundreds of times of athletes trying to get the head through, fail the rep and are still getting out from underneath the bar. You’ve got to commit to that head coming under and through the window. Because if not, the bar is going to be out in front of your center of mass. And it’s way too heavy for you to hang on to out there. My max jerk is 350. There’s no way if I don’t get my head through that, that I can hold that kind of load overhead. I’ve got to bring the head through and I’ve got to bring the arms behind my head. And that’s when I close my eyes and say a little prayer. Oh, I hope this goes good. But the head is forward. I’m not looking at the bar. The head’s got to be forward and through. So the only two cues, if you’re thinking about anything, it’s jump as hard as I can and push my head through that window and pray for the best. Shoulder mobility needs to be on board. It’s all about the legs. It’s not about the shoulders. And it’s about getting your head through the bar. And if you do those three things, you go out in the gym today, right now, and you start practicing those three things, I promise your jerks are going to feel faster, snappier. You’re going to reach lockout a lot quicker, and you’ll be able to PR that push jerk or that split jerk, whatever you’re doing. And hopefully add 10 pounds on it. Don’t forget to tip your caddy when you do. All right. I’ll open, I’ll share my Venmo below. Don’t worry. That’s how to not be a jerk with your jerks. I hope that stuff helps you. I hope that gives you some things to think about maybe for your athletes you’re working with or cues that can help them and restore that overhead position. I think I should probably film a video of that shoulder mobility opener. I got a feeling I’m going to get some comments or questions about, Hey Mitch, I had no idea what you were trying to explain. Can you drop a video? So I’ll walk right out in the gym. I’ll film that and I’ll do my best to drop a link to that video in the best place possible. Maybe over on my Instagram. Head over to my Instagram, Dr. Mitch TPT, follow that. And then, uh, I’ll drop that video there for you guys, man. So glad you guys are here. Happy Friday. Go lions three and one and one and O in the NFC North. It’s a good time to be a lion’s fan for the first time in about seven years. Team. I hope you have a great weekend. If you’re taking a nice course, let us know if you’re taking a nice course next weekend, we’ll see you out there. And if you want us to head down South, come find us in San Antonio or find us in Florida. and we’ll be hanging out down there in the month of November. Have a great weekend, everybody.
01:27 MITCH BABCOCK
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