Squat Jerk Ultimate Guide (and Why It’s Not Right for Everyone)


The squat jerk is a jerk type utilized in Olympic weightlifting, and has been used for each competitors jerks in addition to a jerk variation to enhance general jerk timing and positioning. Unlike the break up and energy jerk types seen in competitors, the squat jerk has a lifter assume an overhead squat in a deep, secure, and very difficult place (when it comes to mobility).

Determining which jerk type is greatest for training and competitors shouldn’t be taken evenly, which is why we have now got down to focus on every part it’s worthwhile to know concerning the squat jerk and whether it is proper for you.

In this squat jerk exercise information we are going to focus on:

  • Squat Jerk Form and Technique
  • Pros and Cons of the Squat Jerk
  • Muscles Worked by Squat Jerk
  • Squat Jerk Sets, Reps, and Weight Recommendations
  • Squat Jerk Variations and Alternatives
  • and extra…

How to Do the Squat Jerk: Form and Technique

Below is a step-by-step information on methods to correctly arrange and carry out the squat jerk.

Squat Jerk Start Position
Squat Jerk Start Position

Step 1: Start with the fingers gripping a barbell barely wider than shoulder width, with the toes about hip width, toes barely turned out). Be certain to imagine an erect place with the chest, chin, and elbows excessive.

Balance must be saved throughout the full foot, with a slight choice for the heel. The bar must be resting on the highest of the shoulders, both taken from the squat rack or clear. The grip width will differ, nonetheless this must be an similar positioning one would take for a push press, energy jerk, or break up jerk.

Squat Jerk Dip Phase
Squat Jerk Dip Phase

Step 2: Bend the knees and hips evenly to permit the hips to drop in line over the heels. Be certain to maintain the torso erect and keep away from dropping the chest, chin, or elbows forwards.

This dip part must be similar to the push press, energy jerk, and break up jerk. The depth and velocity of this dip will differ based mostly on an athlete’s strengths and physique, nonetheless it’s sometimes 3-6 inches for most people.

Squat Jerk Drive Phase 1
Squat Jerk Drive Phase 1

Step 3: At the depth of the dip, instantly and abruptly change course with the legs and hips to drive the torso vertically, with zero ahead lean. This known as the drive part

The lifter should stay erect through the drive part, utilizing the quadriceps, calves, glutes, and physique to drive the barbell momentum vertically. Only after the physique has lifted the bar that the lifter begins to increase the shoulders and elbows overhead.

Squat Jerk Drive Phase 2
Squat Jerk Drive Phase 2

Step 4: The drive part ought to final so long as the lifter can drive the barbell up off the physique with the legs. The aim is to achieve as a lot vertical momentum via the legs, torso, shoulders, and arms into the barbell.

The finish of the drive part ought to look happen after the lifter has prolonged the ankles, knees, and hips. At this second, the lifter then begins to press themselves beneath the barbell (by urgent up on the bar with the fingers).

Squat Jerk Receiving Position 1
Squat Jerk Receiving Position 1

Step 5: After the drive part, the lifter slides or strikes the toes open whereas concurrently pushing the barbell upwards because it continues within the vertical path overhead.

This is a quick and fluid part of the carry. It is necessary that the lifter meets the barbell with a inflexible torso and locked out arms, typically at about parallel. At this level, the lifter ought to try to soak up the load (whereas it’s secured overhead) by permitting the ankles, knees, and hips to bend into the squatted place.

Squat Jerk Receiving Position 2
Squat Jerk Receiving Position 2

Step 6: The lifter ought to then assume a secure overhead squat place, utilizing the higher again and shoulders to contract and resist elbow flexion.

This must be carried out by permitting the knees, ankles, and hips to flex to soak up the downwards momentum of the loaded barbell overhead.

Squat Jerk End Position
Squat Jerk End Position

Step 7: Once the lifter has assumed a low and secure place, they need to squat the load upwards with a inflexible core and torso.

The lifter completed the carry by standing full erect with the barbell locked out overhead.

What Is a Squat Jerk?

The squat jerk is a jerk type that can be utilized to maneuver a barbell from the entrance rack to the overhead place. Like most jerk strategies, the lifter drives the bar off the physique utilizing the legs, hips, and torso. The receiving place, nonetheless, varies from the break up and the ability jerk in that the lifter assumes a completely squatted overhead place (very similar to a snatch receiving place) with the fingers at clear and jerk width. Below is a video of the squat jerk, full with a video tutorial on correct arrange and execution of the carry.

Squat Jerk – Muscles Worked

The squat jerk targets most of the identical muscular tissues as most jerks and overhead lifts, with the first movers being mentioned beneath.

Upper Trap, Back and Scapular Stabilizers

The higher traps, again, and scapular stabilizers are focused enormously because of the elevated vary of movement and stability wanted to imagine a deep, slim grip overhead squat. These muscular tissues work to isometrically contract to withstand the downwards momentum of the barbell always.

Quadriceps, Calves, and Glutes

The quadriceps and hips work to increase the ankles, knees, and hips to drive the torso vertically via the barbell. In doing so, these massive muscular tissues teams work in unison (triple extension) to speed up the barbell overhead to permit a lifter to imagine a low and secure receiving place.


The shoulder work to press the already upwards transferring (created by the legs driving the barbell overhead) barbell overhead. While they don’t seem to be the first muscle teams (the legs are) accountable for hoisting the bar overhead, they’re crucial in stabilizing the hundreds above the lifter whereas within the squatted place.


The core muscular tissues and erectors (decrease again) should work to withstand spinal rotation, flexion, and hyperextension whereas in a deep overhead squat place; which requires nice core strength and management.

Should You Squat Jerk?

The is an efficient query typically requested by all degree lifters lately. If we watch elite lifters, some will break up jerk, some will energy jerk, and a few will squat jerk; every exhibiting their type to be efficient at constructing champions. The utilization of the squat jerk varies based mostly upon the beneath elements:

Flexibility/Mobility Limitations

It ought to come as no shock to listen to that the squat jerk requires nice hip, shoulder, and thoracic mobility and stability, and is usually the rationale why so many athletes can’t carry out such a motion at close to maximal and maximal hundreds. That mentioned, these points can typically have an effect on into the opposite positions within the all lifts, making it necessary to at the least be capable of carry out squat jerks in some capability, whatever the lifter’s type.

If nonetheless, a lifter has good mobility, strength, and chooses to make use of this type, they need to have the ability to take action at hundreds higher than their greatest jerk methodology in competitors. The reasoning behind that is you need to carry probably the most quantity of weight as you may in competitors, so you should definitely use your strongest, most assured jerk type at the moment.

Strengths/Weaknesses of a Lifter

Depending on the strength and weak point of a lifter, coaches and athletes could make selections based mostly on which actions, approach changes, and jerk variations they are going to use. As a lifter advances of their profession, coaches should additionally evolve with the best way the  particular person’s training course of. If a lifter tends to have higher mobility but has points driving heavy bars off the physique within the jerk drive, the squat jerk MAY be an answer because it requires much less lifting of the bar off the physique. If nonetheless, a lifter has hip, knee, ankle, or shoulder limitations, they almost certainly will probably be restricted of their potential to rapidly obtain the bar in a low, secure overhead place. If that is the case, the coach ought to (1) select a jerk methodology to greatest decrease harm and maximize success, (2) tackle these mobility issues, and (3) slowly combine the ability jerk for lighter ability units to assist develop a greater general jerk and squat place.

Anthropometrics of a Lifter

Lifters will typically see a carry on social media or in a health club and say, “That worked for them, I should do that.” In actuality, most lifters ought to select actions and physique positions based mostly on their particular person bone construction, physique, and strengths. While this isn’t to say a profitable lifter’s strategies received’t work for you (in truth most of them would, since practically all strategies have the identical underlying ideas), however relatively that coaches and lifters ought to take a look at the person limitations and skills when making all these selections.

For instance, lifters who’ve longer legs relative to their torsos will typically have points sustaining an upright secure place within the squat jerk at excessive hundreds (80+% of fresh and jerk max). If that is the case, coaches must make the choice of whether or not it’s value pushing squat jerks on athletes simply because it really works for different athletes (and vice versa). In the tip, lifters ought to be capable of carry out all types of jerks with average hundreds (50-70%), nonetheless the choice to make the most of squat jerks because the competitive jerk type must be based mostly upon a lifter’s pure construct and strengths; relatively than having them attempt to assume positions that they merely can’t assume (attributable to physique construction).

Who Could Benefit from Squat Jerks?

We break down who can profit from performing squat jerks, and why.

Beginner Weightlifters

Many newbie weightlifters might lack the mobility, timing, and precision to carry out squat jerks, nonetheless this doesn’t imply they need to keep away from them. By utilizing the regressions and complexes beneath, coaches can work to develop correct mobility, overhead strength, timing, and stability to grow to be fluent in squat jerking. Even lifters who don’t squat jerk in competitors will discover profit on including lighter loaded squat jerks because it has direct utility to energy, push, and break up jerks.

Weightlifters Needing Better Timing/Fluidity within the Jerk

As mentioned above, the timing and fluidity wanted within the squat jerk are excessive, making it an amazing training exercise to develop these properties in lifters who could also be missing them. Often, a lifter can “save” a carry within the break up or energy jerk by leaping/stepping ahead. However, within the squat jerk, the margin of error may be very small, making the lifter give attention to physique positioning (vertical), timing, and stability within the receiving place to the next diploma.

Weightlifters Needing Greater Overhead Stability

Overhead squats, urgent, and jerks are all depending on a robust, secure overhead place. Performing squat jerks, assuming the lifter has already been capable of do overhead squats with each snatch and jerk grips, behind the neck push presses, and behind the neck energy jerks; may be extraordinarily useful in rising overhead stability for the jerk.

Lifters with Strong Lower Bodies 

The squat jerk not solely requires excessive levels of shoulder mobility and strength, it calls for a lifter to primarily squat heavy hundreds twice in a single try (the clear after which once more, within the squat jerk). Many lifters might like the thought of the squat jerk, nonetheless they have to possess a excessive quantities of leg strength reserve to have the ability to hit heavy squat jerks efficiently after max or near-maximal cleans (in competitors). If a lifter has points driving heavy hundreds excessive off the physique, but nonetheless has robust legs, they might attempt to see if the squat jerk might assist them in competitors. Note, that robust legs permit for robust jerk drives, so this may occasionally additionally not be one of the best indicator of whether or not or not an athlete ought to purely squat jerk.

Squat Jerk Sets, Reps, and Weight Recommendations

Below are widespread set and rep schemes to develop motion, hypertrophy, strength, and muscle endurance within the squat jerk.

Movement Integrity – Reps, Sets, and Weight Recommendations

The squat jerk is a foundational jerk variation that may assist newbies perceive physique positioning, timing, bar placement, and develop higher stability within the overhead positions of the jerk/snatch.

  • 3-5 units of 3-5 repetitions with gentle to average hundreds

Strength, Power, and Weightlifting Skill – Reps, Sets, and Weight Recommendations

The squat jerk can be utilized to construct strength, energy, and jerk timing by utilizing the beneath units, reps, and loading schemes beneath.

  • 3-5+ units of 1-3 repetitions with heavy loading, resting as wanted

Squat Jerk Variations

Below are three (3) squat jerk variations coaches can use to progress this exercise on most training packages.

Pause in Dip Squat Jerk

By including a pause on the backside of the dip part within the squat jerk, you pressure a lifter to (1) set up higher management and braking skills (2) improve consciousness at what the right dip depth must be within the jerk (3) improve a lifter’s dependency on utilizing the legs to drive the load upwards, as they can not use momentum or easy start urgent the weight up with the higher physique, and lastly (4) you improve leg energy. All of those causes recommend the pause squat jerk is an efficient variation for lifters who fail to maintain a vertical torso and bar path, don’t make the most of the legs, or have psychological blocks within the dip and drive part of the jerk.

Behind the Neck Squat Jerk

Behind the neck (BTN) squat jerks are an amazing exercise to determine a greater bar path and receiving place overhead, because the lifter merely drives the load off the higher traps in a vertical trend. When going from the entrance of the physique, the lifter should navigate the top across the barbell, making it barely extra complicated.

No Foot Squat Jerks

No foot squat jerks may be carried out equally to the usual squat jerk, nonetheless on this variation the lifter doesn’t transfer their toes. Therefore, they need to start with the toes within the squatting place (width). By not permitting foot motion, the lifter should maximize vertical trajectory, physique stability, and leg drive. If all of that is on level, they are going to discover higher fluidity, velocity, and a smoother receiving place within the full squat jerk.

Behind the Neck Squat Jerk + Overhead Squat + Squat Jerk

This squat jerk complicated may be carried out to extend overhead strength, barbell placement, and general approach. Behind the neck jerks are a good way to assist a lifter set up a greater relationship with the positions, alignments, and timing of the carry in a deconstructed trend. 

Squat Jerk Alternatives

Below are three (3) squat jerk alternate options that may used within the sport of Olympic weightlifting within the occasion a lifter has points securing a stability, secure, and low place within the squat jerk.

Power Jerk

The power jerk is among the precursor actions to the squat jerk. By mastering the ability jerk, a lifter can develop correct timing, overhead strength, and energy with out having limitations of their mobility and stability when receiving within the jerk grip overhead squat. Lifters who’ve mobility points or weak overhead squat strength can use energy jerks to put heavier hundreds overhead, extra successfully.

Split Jerk

The break up jerk is a standard jerk methodology utilized in Olympic weightlifting which permits a lifter to imagine a barely decrease receiving place than the ability jerk, but not want the mobility and stability obligatory for the squat jerk, nonetheless does require extra energy  to drive the barbell increased overhead.

Power Jerk + Overhead Squat

As mentioned above, the ability jerk is a prerequisite to the squat jerk. When paired with the overhead squat (in a posh), the lifter can even start to develop physique management, stability, and overhead strength obligatory for the squat jerk depth. As time goes on, the lifter can start to attenuate the pause and resetting of the physique between the ability jerk and the overhead squat to seamlessly transition from the ability jerk into the overhead squat, which might be the squat jerk.

Featured Image: J2FIT Weightlifting, Mike Dewar



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