4. The Jerk Press (JP)
The 4th place goes to the JP, it is an all around movement which brings upper and lower body strength together in an explosive motion.
So far, the top exercises in my list (Back squat, Deadlift and Good Morning) are whole body exercises which worked the lower body dynamically and the upper body isometrically.
The Jerk Press (JP) is a dynamic exercise that involves the whole body. Although the motion ends in an overhead lift.
It is clear that the legs play an important role. As a matter of fact the female world record in Clean and jerk is held by Tatyana Kashirina with 190kg ( she executed a variance, a split jerk and not a jerk press).
I became addicted to the JP, when I start following Crossfit 3 years ago, the exercise has never since left my routine.
I have weak shoulders and have never been a huge fan of upper body exercise, the JP was and is a life savior as it aloud me to lift serious weight, up to 100kg getting my legs and my whole body involved.
As the weight increases the JP is a proper challenge, as you have to get under the bar, which requires explosiveness and confidence and you need the strength to hold that bar overhead before locking your leg in the finish position.
How to do a JP?
Before getting into detail with the JP, it is convenient to explain how to do a strict shoulder press (SSP) and a shoulder push press (SPP).
The three lifts above have in common the starting and ending position.
1. The "Rack"is the starting position:
As for any lift, your chest is up, your lower back will be straight (neutral spine) and your abs contracted, your feet hips width apart, your weight on the heels with your feet flat. You will grab the bar with the palms facing away from you.
Your grip will be slightly wider than shoulder width apart. You will place the bar on your shoulder in contact with your collar bone. In order to do so, your elbows should be pointing forward and your triceps parallel to the floor.
2. The overhead (finish) position:
Your arms are locked above your head, the bar is aligned with your heels, hips and shoulders, simply put your ears are right between your arms. In other words, the bar is not in front or behind the line of your ears.
The posture tips given in the point 1 still apply here.
Although the means of getting the barbell overhead is different in each lift, the starting and ending positions are identical.
It consists of pressing the bar without using the legs at all. All the lift is executed through the shoulder action.
The SPP include two more stages which are the dip and drive.
The dip: keeping your feet flat, you will slightly bend your knees and hips to at 1/4 squat level.
The drive: it I s the continuation of the dip, as you reached that 1/4 squat level you will extend your hips and knees. The momentum created will aloud you to press the bar overhead.
Finally the Jerk Press:
If the SPP required a Dip and Drive, the JP is composed of a Dip, Drive and an extra Dip.
The first Dip and Drive will be executed as described in the SPP.
The second Dip complements the final arm press. In fact instead of only stretching your body up through the action of our arms, you will simultaneously press and squat at the same time to bring yourself underneath the bar. Then with your arms locked, you will stand up to complete the overhead lift.
I mainly work with narrow grip, which is the shoulder width apart grip that is described above or with a wide grip, which would be my snatch grip.
The snatch grip is obtained by grabbing an empty bar, keep your feet hips apart, slightly lean forward.
With your arms locked, the bar against your body, slide your hands along the bar till the bar reach the level of the crisp of your hips. "Et Voila!", you will have achieved the snatch grip.
I work with the snatch grip when I want to improve the final part of my snatch. The snatch is started with the bar on the floor and ends with an overhead press.
I can snatch 50kg but can jerk and overhead press 90-95kg with a snatch grip, so in order to practice the final part of the snatch, I JP.
The muscles targeted:
The upper body benefits greatly from the JP, the Core muscles extend from the cervical spine to the level of your hamstrings. This include the front and back of the body.
In order to lift, all upper body is tight,"engaged". Everything is contracted, working "isometrically”.
All these muscles stabilize and work synergistically allowing the motion.
The arms and shoulder muscles are the prime movers, the agonists:
The deltoids and the triceps are prime movers, the agonists. The JP build strength and size in your deltoids, shoulder muscles and triceps, as well as giving your upper body explosiveness.
The lower body:
There is roughly 20-40kg difference between the weight lifting in a SSP and a JP, so it is clear that the lower body plays its part.
All the joints from the ankles, knees, hips up to the wrists play a part in the lift.
All the muscles involved in a traditional squat are involved in the JP, as a matter of fact, when we JP, we perform a short squat and the last push that leads to the finishing position would be the finishing movement of a squat with a bar overhead.
The benefits of JP:
A stronger upper body:
The JP helps develop your upper body strength and also increases your stamina as it is dynamic exercise, you end up out of breath.
The JP is recommended to help breaking the plateaus in bench or back lifts. If you struggle with your bench press or back rows, switch to shoulder presses, it will give you a boost.
A Functional exercise:
The JP as the squat and deadlift appears a fair amount if time in our daily lives. How many time did you struggle to put that "rebelled" box or suitcase on top of the shelf or you decided to swing then throw in the air your favorite relative...
One of the most important lift:
We push, pull and press.
Thanks to the JP, you learn the correct dip depth and hip position for your overhead lift.
Finally, the JP will teach you how to catch or receive the bar on your clavicles and deltoids when lowering the bar for your reps. Lowering the bar under control and bending your knees to absorb the impact so as not to bang, bruise, and injure your clavicles, deltoids, or upper or lower back is very important for anyone doing overhead lifts.
Now your turn, Give it a go!
Remember—straight UP, stay tight, and keep pushing.