Every week, STACK brings you a new Exercise of the Week to challenge your strength, speed, conditioning or flexibility—or all of the above.
The Push Jerk is a variation of an Olympic lift that develops full-body power. It involves a triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles, which builds powerful quads, glutes and calves needed to run faster and jump higher.
It's also a full-body movement that simulates many skills you perform on the field. Your lower body initiates the movement and is the driving force behind the upper-body press, like when you throw a ball or swing a bat.
In addition to helping you get powerful, the exercise also improves:
Muscle Symmetry. Switching your forward leg on each rep balances your strength on your right and left sides, and it improves your hip stability.
Core Strength. A strong and stable core efficiently transfers power from your lower to your upper body while protecting your spine. The Push Jerk trains this essential attribute.
Shoulder Stability. Your small shoulder stabilizer muscles engage to balance and control the bar while it's overhead, strengthening these muscles and protecting your joints.
Work Capacity. Moving heavy weight with your entire body is not easy. Every rep takes full effort. But it will improve your ability to call on your full power at critical moments during games.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a bar across your chest with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Lower into a quarter squat.
- Extend your hips, knees and ankles to drive the bar up off your shoulders.
- Split your legs into a lunge position and fully extend your arms overhead to finish the movement.
5. Slowly lower the bar to your shoulders and reset your feet for the next rep.
Common Mistakes and Fixes
Mistake: Pressing the bar overhead with your arms as if performing a Military Press. You use your arms to an extent, but they shouldn't be the driving force for the exercise.
Fix: Your legs should generate most of the momentum to propel the bar into the air. Focus on lowering into your quarter squat, then exploding up. If you're still pressing the bar, you may need to lower the weight.
Mistake: Starting with your elbows too far forward in a front squat position, which makes it difficult to move the bar overhead.
Fix: Your elbows should be under the bar so you can grasp it with a solid grip and push it naturally overhead. Your grip should be close—albeit a bit wider than a standard Military Press.
Mistake: Failing to move the bar directly overhead, which increases your chance of a failed rep (i.e., dropping the bar).
Fix: The bar should be in line with the rest of your body when it's overhead. Imagine forming a straight line from the bar all the way to your hips.
Applying It to Your Workout
The Push Jerk is generally used to increase power. So perform it toward the beginning of your workout when your muscles are fresh, and perform it for lower reps with moderate to heavy weight.
It can also be used as a conditioning exercise—assuming you can maintain perfect form on every rep—as in Martin Rooney's Hurricane workout. In these instances, choose a lighter weight and perform it for higher reps to tax your energy systems.
Power – Sets/Reps: 4-5x3-5
Conditioning – Sets/Reps: 3x10-15
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock