Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Jerk Recoveries- Fun During Christmas Break.
Christmas break was great. We have a pretty large family with 6 children. Four are now married so we have 3 sons-in law, a daughter-in-law and 10 grandchildren with 2 more on the way so far. My father was also visiting and we all were together in the 1800 sq. ft. house the school district rents to us in Kayenta, Arizona. Luckily, or maybe because of that, we get along pretty well. On the reservation you can’t own land, so schools provide housing for employees. It is usually adequately comfortable, but not fancy. Given that, we spend a lot of time outdoors and in our state of the art weight room.
On Saturday night about 7:00pm we decided to go to the weight room and do an exercise that is largely unknown and unappreciated, Jerk Recoveries, also termed Overhead Supports although there is a subtle difference. To do the exercise you need a very sturdy power rack that will allow the bar to be placed an inch or so above the forehead. Many modern racks or so called “squat cages” as they are termed, do not have holes or brackets at a sufficient height to allow this. I suggest when buying a rack, make sure it will allow for heavy overhead work.
After a general warmup, the bar is placed on the pins above the forehead as described. The athlete stands under the bar with a full grip about shoulder width or slightly wider. Care is taken that the core is tight and the mind focused. Drop explosively under the bar pushing to arms length. The feet can either be split fore and aft, split jerk style or kept in line, power jerk style.
There are some who say that split style may be more relevant to shot or discus throwing as the legs are staggered on release.(note the picture posted in December of Anders Arrhenius) If you feel this is important, then a right handed thrower would split with the left leg forward. In reality, I recommend alternating the forward leg to keep balanced development. In the power jerk style you get more vertical lift, perhaps more applicable to hammer or weight. That aside, either style will build great strength and stability from the fingernails to the toenails.
Once the athlete has driven themselves under the bar they need to immediately drive upward maintaining an absolute rigid core along with extended arms. As lifting great Tommy Kono says, “Bone on Bone.” Meaning that arm lock is maintained, shoulders pushing up, body aligned. If the weight is not locked out over head, it will come back down. Start with a relatively light weight (less than your best jerk or push press) then progress in big jumps to a weight that exceeds your best overhead lift by 100 lb. or more. You must be focused and drive hard under the bar staying tight. Drive upwards driving the bar off of the pins and support it overhead for 1-5 seconds.
If you loosen up or flinch, the bar will not stay up. You have to maintain the upward thrusting sensation throughout the movement. If you are not aligned, the bar will merely slide forward or backwards on the pins, but it won’t go up.
What are the benefits? Besides the tight core and total body tensile strength, it promotes shoulder strength and balance, it teaches concentration and focus, and it’s a lot of fun to hold super heavy weights over head. As you develop strength in this position, your jerks and presses will feel like toys overhead.
The subtle difference I mentioned between Jerk Recoveries and Overhead Supports is this:
Recoveries are done with bar above the forehead as described, which requires dropping lower under the bar and more leg strength.
Supports are done with the bar higher above the head and only a slight drop under. The focus is on the over head support and not as much leg work. Both have their benefits depending on the goals of the athlete.
Below are some examples we recorded that night in our weight room. My daughter Deezbaa, a thrower at BYU demonstrates a jerk recovery split style with 275 lb. (125 kg.) Her best jerk is about 200 lb.(92.5 kg.) right now. She weighs about 160 lb. and can throw her bodyweight in the discus and hopefully well over 180’ in the hammer this season. My son Orrin, a high school junior, does 345 lb. (157.5 kg) in power jerk style. He later did 405 lb. (182.5 kg) but we didn’t get it on camera. He weighs about 154 lb. (70 kg.) and has jerked 110 kg. (242 lb.) He is in season wrestling right now. Oliver is shown doing 500 lb. at a bodyweight of about 230 lb. (105 kg.) He also throws at BYU and hit 59 meters in the hammer last season, expecting much more this year. The narration didn’t come out very well, but if you listen close there is some explanation. Even without the sound, it is easy to see what is happening. It was a fun evening over Christmas break.
Posted by Oliver Whaley at 2:37 PM