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Kettlebell Jerk Tutorial

Over the last few posts I’ve been talking about the Kettlebell Clean which for those in the world of Kettlebell Sport serves as a precursor to this, the kettlebell jerk.


What a fantastic lift.

It is one of my all time favourite lifts. In fact that gives me an idea for a future post, a top ten of my favourite kettlebell lifts…… Anyway before I go off on a tangent, lets look at the Jerk and it’s component parts.

First, what is a Jerk and how is it different to a press?

When I teach a kettlebell workshop, or if you follow my Workshop series, I have the Jerk as the last step in a continuum. The continuum opens with the “Hard Style” or high tension military press, then relaxes into a Push Press and the more relaxed and efficient military press techniques untill finally we get to the Jerk.

On one end of the continuum all the strength and power comes from the upper torso, particularly the upper chest, shoulder and triceps. As we move along the continuum we are integrating more and more of the body, adding in more and more potential for force production and power, assuming of course all the links in the chain are working right.

If we take a strict press and say that 100% of the force is generated by the upper torso. We can say that a push press, with its added leg drive, spreads the load to maybe 50% upper and 50% lower body. The Jerk then is closer to 80% lower body with the arm and shoulder merely finishing the lift.

Good news then for beaten up idiots like myself who have recurring nagging injuries around the shoulders. Good news also if you’re involved in any sport that requires the integration of the entire body to generate force to be expressed by the upper body (think throwing, punching, batting etc…)

So how does it work? Well in the Level 3 Kettlebell manual where the Jerk is detailed it takes over 1500 words and 26 photographs over 6 pages to give the full overview. If you think I’m repeating all that here….well….

Level 3 Kettlebell Manual - Snatch & Jerk

So what I have done is made a video. In fact it’s two videos, part one is 10 minutes detailing the launch section of the Jerk, part 2 is another 10 minutes detailing the Lockout, drop and breath.

Yes, the Jerk is that technical.

But it is well worth the effort, especially if you’re a combat athlete or any athlete that requires full body coordinated strength and power.

So without further ado, here’s part 1:

And here’s part 2:

Using the Jerk in your training is highly dependent on your training goals. I love heavy jerks for multiple sets of low reps for power. I also hate doing but really appreciate higher rep sets for the endurance factor. They’ll do more for your ability to hold a high guard and hit hard than any amount of push ups.

Precede each jerk with a clean and you’re now doing the best lift ever, the clean and jerk or “Long Cycle” as it’s known in the kettlebell world. Long Cycle truly is a total body lift. The posterior chain does the Clean, the anterior chain does the Jerk while the heart and lungs pick up the slack. One moderately weighted bell is all you need to smoke your cardio with Long cycle, one or a pair of heavier bells will develop strength and power of mind and spirit.

Or they’ll make you simply hate life.

Take your time with this, learn it slow, develop it, nurture it and it will reward you.


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