Dave Sheppard jerking 363 lbs. at the Melbourne Olympics. Note the bar well back, the solid arm lock and the forward step to get solidly under the weight.
by Bob Hoffman (1957)
In our last article we discussed the clean portion of the Olympic lift known as the clean & jerk. So now we will that assume you have the weight securely at the chest or shoulders and are ready for the overhead portion of the lift.
It is axiomatic in the weightlifting world that you should be able to jerk overhead and hold for the necessary two-second count any weight you have cleaned to the shoulders. The clean should be the most difficult part of the lift. Jerking should be much easier, but there are times when the clean has been so difficult that even a good jerker fails to properly hold his jerk.
Stand with the feet on a line – about 16 inches apart. Sharply bend the knees only a moderate amount; bending them too far causes the body to lean forward and will frequently result in a failure to hold the jerk. Keep the body perfectly erect, the head raised slightly; sharply straighten the legs, sending the bell as high as possible overhead. As the bell reaches its highest point overhead, split under it, stepping well forward with the front foot, slightly back with the rear foot, push strongly throughout and hold the bar at arms’ length. If the bell is jerked straight up, the front foot advanced well forward, it should be easy enough to lock the arms overhead. The feet are brought back on a line, and after holding the bar overhead for two seconds, the lift is complete, the weight is lowered to the platform.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is simple, yet a great many lifters have lost important championships because they failed to jerk weights overhead that they had cleaned.
Most lifters can stand with the bar resting on the deltoids across the shoulders, the elbows raised and extended to the front. I for one could not use this style, the comparatively short upper arms which made me a poor presser made me keep the arms down, elbows at sides. The weight must travel farther, but if the weight is held firmly, the jerk will be easy enough.
The important thing in jerking is to jerk straight overhead. As we said in the instructions, jerking the weight front comes about because of too deep a dip, a bend of the back and then the weight is thrust slightly forward.
Tommy Kono is a good jerker, and established a middleweight record of 371¾ at Stockholm in 1953 which still stands, and has established records from 380 to 386 in the 181-pound class. I believe Dave Sheppard jerks easier than any of our top-level lifters. Weighing barely 180 in Cairo, Egypt, he easily jerked 408 after it was lifted to his shoulders, and our team was far from well at the time with the strange food and water. Dave had weighed 198 in Moscow and Leningrad, but he had been pretty sick before he made this lift.
Paul Anderson does a push-press with his weights and does not split under the weight. He has become so strong that he has reached 525 pounds in this style. But this method is suited to few. You should jerk the weight straight up and split under it.