The jerk was originally intended for a single purpose: to heave the most weight overhead as humanly possible. And although that’s still a commendable purpose, the jerk has since taken on many other useful functions. When performed with a lighter load and for higher repetitions, the jerk not only remains a great power developer but also challenges the cardiovascular system.

Kettlebell sport (called Girevoy sport), which is much more popular in Western culture than in the United States, features high-repetition jerks (often performed for ten minutes at a time) as a competitive event. The power, muscularity, and fluid movement of these competitors are a testament to the effectiveness of high-repetition jerks for building a truly remarkable physique.

With that being said, we highly encourage you to perform your jerks with a kettlebell because it lends itself perfectly for the movement. But if you don’t have a kettlebell handy, a dumbbell will work fine as well.

The jerk starts out as a push press but adds in a second dip (or quarter squat) where the lifter attempts to “sneak under the weight.” The idea here is that by moving your body under the weight, you shorten the distance the weight has to travel; and the less distance the weight has to travel, the more weight you should be able to lift. Makes sense, right?

Follow these steps to do the jerk:

1

Clean the weight up into the rack position and assume a shoulder-width stance. Start the jerk the same way you would a push press, by taking a shallow dip.

Don’t take long to get into the dip. Think “quick down, quick up,” like a spring!

2

Explode out of the dip exactly how you would a push press.

As the weight is accelerating upward, shoot your hips back and land your weight back onto your heels.

3

Come into a quarter squat position to “sneak under the weight” and catch the weight overhead in a full lockout position.

It’s okay if your heels leave the ground during the upward portion of the jerk, but they should be planted when you shoot your hips back to catch the weight.

4

Stand up out of the quarter squat with the weight locked out overhead to complete the repetition.

Let the weight fall quickly back into the rack position (catch it softly with a dip if you need to) and repeat.