The push jerk is a specialized weightlifting exercise associated with CrossFit, which involves several movements that, when combined, will contribute to your functional strength as well as agility, muscle development and speed.
What Is A Push Jerk?
The push jerk, at a glance, involves getting a barbell up in the air with your arms straight over your head from a shoulder height starting position. Don’t worry: we’ll elaborate in full detail shortly.
More and more exercises like the push jerk are finding their way out of the CrossFit gym and utilized as part of workouts for athletes or all levels of ability. The push jerk in particular is one of the best combo moves for improving the explosive power that you can find in one series of movements.
One of the best things about the push jerk is that fact that it builds your body’s strength at the same time that it improves your endurance. It develops your muscles at the same time that it provides you with an intense cardiovascular workout, too, meaning that you will burn calories by the bucket while simultaneously building your muscles. So, in other words, if time is in short supply and you want an all in one lifting exercise to focus on in a training session, the push jerk might just be the one that you have been looking for.
Which Muscles Does The Push Jerk Work?
Well, just about all of the larger muscle groups, and the smaller supporting muscles too. Essentially, given the overhead press nature of this combo, the primary muscles that this lift works are your shoulders and quadriceps. However, a quick practice will soon teach you that there is much more muscle involved in this misleadingly simple-looking exercise. Your triceps, hips, hamstrings, glutes, calf muscles, forearms and definitely your core also receive a mighty share of the workout, which is why it is so perfect for an all in one exercise.
Benefits Of Push Jerks
Further to this, we mentioned smaller muscles too. One of the many benefits of push jerks is the fact that it is performed from a standing position so it is designed to improve your balance and symmetry, with many smaller auxiliary muscles and tendons coming into play to help stabilize you. Think about it: the average machine lift or fixed range motion means that some of the more neglected muscle remain unworked while standing lifts – especially ones like this that involve a real focus on balance – put the spotlight on all your functions that help to keep you upright beneath the weight.
If you want to focus more on your endurance than strength, you can turn the push jerk into a high-intensity interval (HIIT) tool to really get the greatest calories burning effect.
While you are thinking about muscle gains and endurance, let’s spare a thought for bones. Standing lifts that essentially work against gravity contribute to strengthening your bone density, which is something older people may find problematic as it begins to depreciate after middle age.
How Do You Do A Push Jerk?
- Begin with your barbell in a ‘racked position’, meaning it is placed across your collarbones. Grip the bar slightly wider than your shoulders. Your hands should hold the bar with your palms facing up and your elbows pointed outwards.
- Stand with your feet beneath your hips, feeling the weight down your centre. Engage your glutes and core at all times for stability and drop your hips to a slight squat to assist the upward thrust of the jerk.
- The aim is then to press the bar above your head as your hips drop again to steady yourself. Open your hips with an explosive drive that ends with your arms straight above your head and your feet in line beneath your hips.
- A few good tips to keep in mind to master good form is to think of the lift as a vertical movement at all times, as opposed to an out and up motion. You should also try to centre yourself with your heels at your foundation so that you do not lead with your toes and make balance a greater problem. Look ahead: if you stare at your feet it will make it harder to balance and lift at the same time. Pick a point on the distant wall that won’t move and focus on it.
Push Jerk Variations
The push jerk can be performed in other shapes and sizes, depending on your aim and capability. Two of the most popular examples of jerk variations include the ‘split jerk’ and the ‘clean and jerk’.
The split jerk is a natural next step – literally – from the push jerk. It begins with the same starting position but ends differently with the positioning of your legs. Using the example of your left leg, as you come to catch the bar at the end of the lift, split your legs so that your left foot steps forward with the right leg back forming a lunging position.
Clean and jerks, or power jerks, are half similar to the push jerk, and many people use the push jerk as a stepping stone to mastering this Olympic lift. The clean and jerk are two exercises, which brings the dead barbell from the ground to the wracked position and then up into the air as in the push jerk, thus calling on more muscle groups and requiring greater energy reserves.