Tuesday, February 23, 2021

How to Improve Your Jerk - Bob Bednarski (1969)

 Courtesy of Liam Tweed

Bob Bednarski passed on February 22nd, 2004.
Thank you, Michael.

Bob Bednarski was one of the world's most reliable jerkers. Caught by Craig Monroe's lens as he adjusts under 465, the York lifter is a picture of explosive precision. This picture was taken at Charlie Herring's Arkansas meet. 
The Clean and Jerk has long been called the "King of the Olympic Lifts." For some lifters, the Jerk is their "ace in the hole," or to put it simply, the lift which assures them victory. But this is not so with all lifters. Some dread the Jerk. They constantly miss critical jerks in competition and subsequently lose important titles, not to mention their pride and in some cases, temper. 
This need not be the case. Actually the Jerk is one of the simplest movements to master. All you need to know is a few basic details (or "secrets" as some people call them) and you can add from 10 to 50 pounds to your Jerk.
To make the details as plain and simple as possible I have outlined the Jerk into eight separate segments. 
1) Upon recovering from the Clean, the bar must rest firmly upon the chest, not the arms. 
2) The arms and chest must be firmly tensed.  
3)  The head should be tilted up slightly and fixed in that position. In other words, it should not "bob" back and forth.
4) The feet must be in a straight line and about 12 inches apart to assure the best drive. 
5) For maximum thrust, the feet must remain flat while the body dips from 3 to 5 inches. 
6) The bar should be thrust upward, straight, fast, and directly over the head.
7) While splitting, concentrate on slamming the front foot. This will assure greater stability and also help complete the thrust.
8) Recovery should be performed by bringing the front foot back one step and then the rear foot forward to complete the lift. 
Although I have outlined the Jerk into eight parts it actually takes only a couple of seconds to perform the complete movement. Therefore, it would be impossible to concentrate on all eight segments at once. These movements must be drilled into your memory banks and the lift performed as a reflex. Work the segment of the Jerk in which you are the weakest. Try to develop your Jerk into a single, smooth movement so that it will be possible to handle limit poundages perfectly.
I suggest the following five exercises to help you increase your jerking power:
1) The Jerk Off the Rack 
2) Jerks From Behind Neck
3) Heavy Supports on Chest
4) Lockouts on the Power Rack
5) Split Lockouts on the Power Rack

Jerk Off the Rack 
The best way to increase your jerking ability is simply to do more of them with heavier and heavier weights. I suggest concentrating on form and low reps (or singles) with maximum poundages. For example, best jerk off the rack is 515. The following are the poundages that I used to work up to that weight: 
135 x 3
225 x 3
Jerk From Behind Neck
If your biggest problem is jerking the weight in the proper groove directly above your head or if you seem to jerk the weight forward then this simple exercise may solve all your headaches. Perform this exercise the same as the jerk off the rack, but do singles only, or try doing the first rep from behind the neck and than a second rep from the front. I don't suggest doing more than one rep behind the neck for the simple reason that lowering it after the first jerk can be dangerous.

Heavy Supports on Chest
This exercise is fairly self-explanatory. It teaches you to maintain rigidity, which is perhaps the most important "secret" in jerking. Keep your body tight and solid at all times. Work up to a heavy poundage, some 200 pounds over your best jerk, and work in triples or fives. This will give you a tremendous amount of confidence when you recover from the clean and ready yourself for the dip.   

Lockouts On the Power Rack

If your problem is maintaining stability in recovering from a jerk, then this exercise will help you tremendously. Lockouts should be performed from a height of approximately 3 to 5 inches above the head. Keep the arms locked at all times and lift the weight by bending the legs and then straightening them. You should be able to use very heavy weights in this exercise, perhaps 100-125 pounds or more above your best jerk. 

Split Lockouts on Power Rack

This movement is similar to the one just mentioned but works the split position much more. On the power rack set the bar at a height equal to the lowest point of the split. Push the weight off the pins and hold for 6-8 seconds. Do not come erect. The purpose is to strengthen the muscles involved in the split position of the lift. Work up in 3-4 sets hitting a maximum poundage on the last set. You should be handling 100-125 pounds over your best jerk before becoming satisfied. I also suggest that you do not ride the bar up the rack, but rather try to hold the weight between the bars. This helps to the balance fore and aft as well as building the overhead strength.
For those having a special problem with their jerks I suggest at least two exercises per week be included in your program. Perhaps jerks off the rack on Tuesdays and lockouts on Thursdays, or jerks behind the neck and heavy supports. Select those exercises which meet your personal needs. Generally speaking, it takes a lot of pure, hard work to get the Jerk moving, but once it improves it is not to difficult to maintain. The rewards for your work will be reaped in abundance when you stand up from a maximum clean and feel 100% confident that the jerk will go.
Enjoy Your Lifting!  


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