The Benefits of Doing a Push Jerk

The push jerk is an advanced weightlifting exercise that requires the simultaneous engagement of coordination, strength, and power. It is a total body exercise that uses the whole body to create explosive power, therefore, if performed correctly, push jerks can provide numerous physical benefits and help take your strength training to the next level. In this blog post, I will give you all the information you need to know about push jerks to help strengthen, improve your physical wellbeing, and sculpt your body. I will discuss what push jerks are, the benefits of incorporating push jerks into your weightlifting routine, how to perform the push jerk properly, common mistakes people make, variations on the push jerk, finding the right weight for push jerks, safety tips to keep in mind before performing the exercise, sample training splits for push jerks, and progressions for the more advanced levels.

Table of Contents

What Is The Push Jerk?

The push jerk is an advanced compound weightlifting movement that builds upper body, leg and core strength. It differs from the regular jerk in the way the bar is being ‘pushed’ up above the head instead of being ‘lifted’ up – as in a regular jerk. It is a dynamic, explosive movement that begins with a dip as you bend your knees and lower your hips into a squat. As you rise, you push the barbell up with your arms until the bar is above your head, with the legs and hips extended.

Muscle Benefits of a Push Jerk

The push jerk is known for effectively targeting specific muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, glutes, and shoulders. Strengthening these muscles will not only improve overall strength, but it also helps with balance and stabilization, and the prevention of injury.

The quadriceps, or quads, are the large muscles found on the front of the thigh. The push jerk targets these muscles during the descending and ascending portions of the lift, as they are responsible for the majority of the force production when pushing the barbell up.

The glutes help power the explosive movement of the jerk and help keep the body stable during the lift. A stronger gluteus maximus will help improve performance, as it is one of the main muscles used during a push jerk.

The shoulders are also an important part of a push jerk. They are actively engaged during the push portion of the jerk, helping to propel the weight up and back over the head. Working the shoulders during the jerk will help improve shoulder strength and stabilization, which is essential for overall strength and power.

Joint Benefits of a Push Jerk

In addition to the muscle benefits that come with a push jerk, there are also joint benefits. Proper technique is essential for completing a safe and effective push jerk, as incorrect form can lead to an increased risk of injury.

Proper technique, including proper knee alignment and posture, will help ensure that the body is in the optimal position for power production. Additionally, properly bracing the core, such as during the dip portion of the lift, will help reduce the risk of injury.

Balance and Stabilization Benefits of a Push Jerk

The physical demands that come with a push jerk can help improve balance and stabilization. When pushing the barbell up and back over the head, the entire body must stay in balance and be stable, requiring the use of multiple muscle groups working together to support the weight.

During the dip portion of the jerk, the weight must be controlled in order to keep the body balanced. This requires not just lower-body strength, but core strength as well. As the barbell is pushed up and out, the muscles of the mid-back, core, and lower body all work together to maintain balance and stability.

Core Development Benefits of a Push Jerk

The core muscles play a major role in the jerk, particularly during the dip portion. As the body moves from the dip to the push, the core muscles must be activated in order to keep the body in a stable position.

Bracing the core, or contracting the abs when performing the jerk, will help ensure that the body is properly stabilized during the lift and will maximize the power and strength produced. Additionally, a strong core helps protect the body against injury and helps maintain proper form and technique.

Examples of Push Jerk Exercises

There are a variety of push jerk exercises that can be used in an exercise program. Some examples of push jerk exercises include the following:

  • Barbell Push Jerks: Begin in the dip position, lower body into a squat and push the barbell up and out over the head.
  • Dumbbell Push Jerks: Start in the dip position, lower body into a squat and press the dumbbells up and out over the head.
  • Medicine Ball Push Jerks: Begin in the dip position, lower body into a squat and press the medicine ball up and out over the head.

Safety Tips for Doing a Push Jerk

When performing a push jerk, proper form and technique is essential for safety. Always ensure that the hands and arms are in the proper alignment during the lift and that the body is properly braced. Additionally, using appropriate resistance for the jerk is essential; this will depend on individual strength and experience with the exercise.

Lastly, always use a spotter when performing a jerk, as the weight can be too heavy for a safe and successful lift without one. With proper form, intention, and resistance, a person can safely and effectively perform a push jerk to build overall strength and power.

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Benefits Of Doing Push Jerks

Push jerks have many benefits for anyone looking to improve their athletic performance, including enhanced strength, power, coordination, stamina, and cardiovascular endurance. Here are seven ways you can benefit from push jerks.

1. Improved Strength and Athletic Performance

The push jerk is an explosive, full-body exercise that requires quick and powerful contractions of multiple muscles and joints. This helps to build strength, power, and coordination that can enhance performance in sports requiring quick and explosive movements, such as weightlifting, powerlifting, and sports like soccer, basketball, and football.

2. Forceful Contractions

Doing push jerks puts a lot of tension on your muscles and joints while they’re contracting quickly, forcing them to contract more forcefully. This intense full-body workout engages multiple muscles and joints as they simultaneously provide resistance while working to maintain proper body alignment and posture, making it an effective exercise to increase strength and power.

3. Injury Prevention

When done properly and with correct form, push jerks can reduce the risk of injury by helping to strengthen the muscles and increase stability. By practicing the correct form, you’ll be able to safely execute the push jerk and reduce the chance of overworking a muscle or joint and increasing your chance of injury.

4. Improved Personal Records

With the strength and power gained from regularly doing push jerks, you’ll be able to lift more weight and reach new PERSONAL RECORDs. This can help you become more competitive, whether you’re an amateur or a professional athlete.

5. Increased Metabolic Rate

Performing multiple sets of push jerks with heavy weights will force your body to work hard, significantly increasing your metabolic rate. When done regularly, this can result in improved overall health and fitness, as well as more efficient fat burning.

6. Enhanced Cardio Endurance

The quick up-and-down motion of push jerks helps to improve your cardio endurance, as well as overall coordination. By emphasizing speed and power at the same time, you’re able to think and move quickly, without overworking any one muscle group.

7. Increased Core Strength

The added weight and force of the push jerk engages the core muscles, helping to increase overall strength. This increased core strength allows you to maintain proper body alignment and posture, which is essential for injury prevention and athletically performance.

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How To Perform The Push Jerk Properly

The push jerk is an exacting lift that requires precision and control. It works a variety of muscle groups and is an excellent way to increase strength, stability and balance. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the proper way to execute the push jerk.

Step One: Grip and Position

Grab the bar with a wide, outside-shoulder-width grip and stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Make sure your torso is leaning slightly forward to help you generate momentum when you begin the lift.

Step Two: Dip

Dip your body down so your arms are locked out and your hips are slightly below parallel. Your chest should be slightly out and facing the side of the room. This will help you drive the bar off your chest and up once you begin the thrust.

Step Three: Drive

Drive through your heels and extend your legs to create upward momentum for the bar. As you thrust upward and your legs reach full extension, press through your heels and engage your core. This helps you transfer the load from your legs to your arms.

Step Four: Push

At the peak of your lift, forcefully press the bar upward from the shoulders using the legs and arms. Try to drive the bar as high as possible with your arms locked out. This ensures proper positioning for the catch.

Step Five: Catch

Once you’ve pushed the bar as high as possible, drop into a full squat and catch the bar over your head in the rack position. The bar should be balanced over your shoulders and your wrists extended. Squat down into the catch, allowing your hips and knees to extend fully.

Muscles Used

The push jerk primarily works the quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, and shoulders. It’s important to make sure you’re engaging the right muscles to get maximum power and performance with each rep. Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement.

The push jerk also requires a lot of stability and control. The quads, glutes, and hamstrings provide the stability you need to keep the load balanced. Your shoulders and triceps also become engaged as you’re pushing the bar up off of your chest.

Benefits of the Push Jerk

Doing the push jerk regularly is an excellent way to develop power and stability in your core, as well as to increase balance and explosiveness. Performing the push jerk the right way will help build strength in the arms and legs and can improve posture.

You’ll also get the benefit of an improved cardiovascular system due to the intense nature of the exercise.

Example Routine

Warm up by jogging or doing squats and lunges before beginning your push jerk practice. Start with a light weight and perform two sets of five reps. Gradually increase the weight over time, but make sure to never compromise your form.

Focus on keeping your technique smooth and controlled throughout the entire movement. Take your time and complete a full five sets of five reps for each session.

Safety Tips

One of the most important aspects of doing a push jerk is using proper form to remain safe and injury-free. Make sure you start with a light weight until you have proper technique down.

Always keep your core engaged and try to explosively push the bar off the chest. Make sure the bar is balanced over your shoulders and wrists extended during the catch.

Never overexert yourself and use good judgment when pushing yourself. Make sure you rest at least two days in between each workout to allow your body to recover.

push jerk

Incorporating The Push Jerk Into Your Routine

One of the fastest and most effective tools that you can use to take your performance to the next level is the push jerk. This incredible full-body exercise can help you become more explosive, get more powerful, and build strength and balance. Below, we’ll explain what a push jerk is, the benefits of doing it, how to perform it, and provide some example workouts that incorporate it into your routine.

What is a Push Jerk?

A push jerk is primarily a full-body exercise that targets the whole posterior chain (the muscles in the back of your body), as well as core and upper body muscles. It’s a variation between the split jerk and the push press, although the push jerk is often seen as an important stepping stone between the two.

Benefits of Doing a Push Jerk

Doing a push jerk on a regular basis will help you unlock a variety of benefits, including improved overall athleticism. This exercise requires coordination, effort, and balance–all of which contribute to the development of higher levels of power output and explosiveness.

Other things that you can benefit from by incorporating the push jerk into your routine include improved strength and power, improved posture, increased core stability, and increased explosiveness. All of these together will be beneficial to you in your athletic endeavors.

How to Perform the Push Jerk

When you’re ready to perform the push jerk, the first thing you’ll want to do is stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Then, bend your knees and hinge your hips back, keeping your arms slightly extended. From there, drive your legs against the ground and push the barbell up and overhead. Be sure to extend your arms completely when you finish the lift. Finally, bend your knees to absorb the weight of the barbell and catch the motion of the lift as you return to the starting position.

Example Workouts That Incorporate Push Jerks

The push jerk can be easily incorporated into various types of workouts for maximum benefits. Here are some examples of workouts that use the push jerk.

  • Workout 1: AMRAP 5 minutes: 5 Push Jerks + 5 Pull-Ups
  • Workout 2: EMOM 9 minutes: 1 Push Jerk + 3 Strict Presses
  • Workout 3: 3 Rounds For Time: 10 Push Jerks + 20 Air Squats

Tips for Executing The Push Jerk Properly

The push jerk is a complex exercise and it’s very easy to make minor mistakes that can result in injury. Here are some tips to make sure you’re executing it properly:

  • Master the two-step pushing motion before adding weight.
  • Keep your arms extended as you drive the weight up.
  • Keep your feet and torso still as you drive the weight overhead.
  • Extend your arms fully overhead when finishing the lift.
  • Keep your chest up and maintain control of the weight at all times.

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Common Mistakes Made During Push Jerks

As an athlete, understanding the proper technique for the push jerk is important for success and safety in the sport. Many times athletes overlook common rungs that can make a huge difference in their performance, such as the jerk dip, the grip, and even their breath control. While each athlete’s technique can vary slightly, here are five of the most common mistakes made while doing the push jerk.

Ignoring the jerk dip

The jerk dip is often overlooked by athletes, as they feel that it is not as important to the success of the lift as it actually is. However, the dip helps increase the power of the lift and helps stabilize the weight, in addition to allowing the lifter to achieve a much deeper split position. This deeper split helps the athlete press the bar overhead more efficiently and with more power.

Keeping the feet flat on the ground

The lifter’s feet are important for success in the push jerk. By actively driving the feet into the floor, the athlete is able to generate maximum force. Not pressing the feet into the floor can cause the athlete to lose power, accuracy, and stability.

Using incorrect grip

Having the bar too far away from the body restricts mobility in the shoulders and torso which can cause the athlete to press the bar in a more narrow position than is necessary to complete the lift. Instead, athletes should focus on keeping the bar close to the body and centered to the middle of the chest.

Hesitating and over-thinking

During a lift, it is important that the athlete has a goal in mind and strives to complete it in a fluid and deliberate manner. Over-thinking will cause the athlete to make mistakes and lose focus. Establishing a goal before beginning the lift will help the athlete complete the lift correctly and avoid common errors.

Poor breath control

Breath control is key for success during the push jerk. Taking a deep breath helps the athlete to maintain a strong core and diminish the risk for injury.When doing a jerk, taking slow and deep breathes helps to improve posture and stability throughout the lift.

By familiarizing yourself with the proper technique for the push jerk and avoiding common mistakes like those listed above, you can ensure success in the sport. Be sure to practice the basics and practice proper jerk techniques before trying more complex lifts. With the right knowledge and proper training techniques, you will be able to perform the push jerk with ease.

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Variations On The Push Jerk

The Push Jerk is a great tool for athletes looking to develop explosive power and speed. With its rapid eccentric and explosive concentric movements, it’s a fantastic lift for developing strength and power. However, depending on your level of expertise, there are multiple variations to the push jerk.

Split-Stance Push Jerk

The Split-Stance Push Jerk is a great variation for beginners or those with limited mobility. It begins with one leg slightly forward, driving the bar up with your legs and dipping and pushing the bar up with your arms. Make sure to keep your back flat and your head straight when in the ‘dip’ part of the jerk.

Push Press

The Push Press variation is similar to the Push Jerk, but does not require the athlete to dip and ‘pull’ the bar up with your arms. Instead, you are simply driving it above your head by extending your legs. This variation does not require as much explosiveness but still gives you the opportunity to be efficient with your strength.

Push Jerk With Double Kettlebells

This variation challenges your stability and makes the jerk more dynamic. Start the movement in a shallow partial squat position, and drive the barbells up overhead in an explosive fashion. Make sure to drive your feet through the floor and engage your core to provide extra stability.

Band-Assisted Push Jerk

If you’re looking to build more strength and power, the Band-Assisted Push Jerk variation is a great option. The bands will provide lighter resistance and assistance when you complete the push jerk. This variation allows you to focus on the power and explosiveness of the lift, while also helping your form.

Push Jerk With One-Arm Barbell

This variation may be seen more often in functional fitness and CrossFit. Here, you will use one arm instead of two to drive the barbell up over your head. It’s great for working on single-arm strength for sports performance and helps build full body balance.

Push Jerk Complex

Complexes can be a great way to challenge your technique, coordination, and athleticism. Combining multiple variations in a complex can be beneficial for strength and conditioning. Examples could include, Push Jerk + Split Jerk, Push Jerk + Toe Press and Push Jerk + Power Press. This will help you develop and progress in your ability to drive weight with power and explosiveness.

The Push Jerk is a great exercise and can be used to improve your power, strength and coordination. Take advantage of the different variations to increase the difficulty and challenge yourself. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, mastering the push jerk can help you become a better athlete.

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Finding The Right Weight For Push Jerks

When beginning with any form of CrossFit, it is important to find the right weight for your abilities and progress up from there. This same approach applies to push jerks. It’s vital to start with a light weight so that you can ensure correct form and technique as well as gradually increasing the weight as you become more confident. One of the most important aspects of push jerks is to ensure you are able to keep good form at the same time as using the right weight for yourself.

Listen To Your Body

Listen to your body and understand where your limits are. Push jerks are an Olympic lift and require explosive power with the correct form, so you need to ensure that you have the weight adjusted and manageable so you can do them effectively. With push jerks, heavier is not always better, so listen to your body and adjust your weight accordingly.

Track Your Progress

As you improve your push jerks, tracking your progress is a must. This gives you an indication of how quickly you can add more weight or if you should remain with the same one. Tracking your push jerk progress will help you assess how far you have come and how much more effort is needed. This is all the more reason to ensure you increase the weight at a moderate pace and not rush into it.

Never Move Beyond Your Limits

It’s also important to make sure you don’t move beyond your limits and always make sure to stay within your own capability. Heavier weights can be tempting, but they can also lead to injury, especially with push jerks. Moreover, you will be less successful in executing the lift correctly if you are focusing on weights outside your reach.

Ask For Professional Help

If you’re ever unsure of the weight you should start with or the form you should use for push jerks, try asking for advice from a CrossFit professional. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and give you feedback so you can safely and effectively do push jerks.

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Safety Tips When Performing Push Jerks

Performing push jerks require a lot of dedication and effort along with the right technique and proper form. It’s important to keep safety in mind at all times to avoid potential injury. Here are some essential tips to consider while doing push jerks.

Proper Form

Having proper form is of utmost importance while performing push jerks. Here are some important form tips to remember:

  • Start by holding the weight in the center of your chest, with a slightly wider than shoulder width stance.

  • Keep your arms straight and your chest up throughout the jerk.

  • Drive the barbell in an explosive motion and make sure your shoulder blades are back.

Start Lightly

Before you jump into the heavier weights, start by practicing with lighter weights. This will help build confidence and ensure that you’re performing the push jerk correctly. You could even try doing bodyweight exercises and dynamic stretching to warm up your muscles.

Safety Equipment

At times, you may need additional stability and support. Using weightlifting belts, wrist straps and knee sleeves could provide added protection and help perform the exercise safely.


Having a spotter around to provide assistance when needed is also beneficial. It may be helpful to review basic spotting techniques to ensure you can provide assistance in a safe and effective manner.


It’s important to listen to your body at all times and not try to lift more than you can handle. You should start with the lightest weight and gradually increase the reps and workload when you start to feel more comfortable.

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Training Split Recommendations For Push Jerks

Want the most out of your push jerk without overtraining? Keep reading for my top-recommended training splits that focus on the push jerk and its auxiliary exercises to maximize results and reduce the risk of injury!

Types of Splits to Consider

Developing a training split that focuses on the push jerk may include incorporating days or parts of days dedicated to pushing strength, pulling strength, total body mobility, and skill work (i.e. focusing on a snatch or jerk complex).

Special Considerations

When developing a training split, always consider your wellness and fitness goals first and foremost. Training splits should include adequate rest and recovery days and be tailored to each person’s individual needs and capabilities.

Sample Push Jerk Program

A sample program may include a push day focusing on the push jerk and accessory exercises such as squats and pull ups, a pull day focusing on deadlifts and rowing, a mobility day focusing on stretching, foam rolling, and dynamic mobility drills, and a skill day focusing on snatch and jerk complexes.

Mix-Ins: Pilates, Yoga, Swimming, etc.

Incorporating other activities such as Pilates, yoga, and swimming into your trainingsplit can help improve flexibility and aid in recovery.

Tips & Tricks

To maximize results while reducing the risk of injury, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to listen to your body and make needed changes accordingly.
  • Don’t forget to warm up before each session.
  • Take rest and recovery days to ensure you can perform at your best.
  • Stay hydrated!

With a training split that focuses on the push jerk, you’ll be sure to make gains and improve your overall form while staying injury-free. Put these tips and tricks into practice and watch your progress graph shoot up!

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Progressions For Advanced Levels

As you progress with the push jerk, there are also more advanced progressions to consider. This includes dropping into a split rather than a dip, utilizing a barbell or kettlebell; or doing the push jerk with a dumbbell.

For the basic move, the progression can be done by starting in a standing position with a dowel and stepping down one leg into a split stance while pushing the dowel overhead. From there, move the dowel back to the starting position and then step the other leg down into a split to create the receiving position.

Performing the same move but using a barbell or kettlebell adds an element of strength, power and stability that the dowel cannot provide. With the barbell, hold the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip and keep the elbows forward, shoulder blades retracted and a back that is just slightly arched. Take a dip and drive off the floor and explode up, driving with the legs, butt and hips to press the weight overhead. Retract the bar, step the feet forward, secure the bar and drop down into a partial squat or full split position, depending upon the level of proficiency.

The push jerk with dumbbells is similar in that it requires the dip and drive to press the dumbbells overhead, but with dumbbells the pressing motion will be slightly more narrow than with a barbell. With the dumbbells, the grip should be slightly narrower than shoulder-width and the elbows should remain extended until the lateral head of the triceps touches the vertical portion of the biceps. Additionally, with dumbbells you will drop down into a full split position with each rep.

Benefits of Push Jerk

Incorporating the push jerk into your workouts provides numerous benefits. As a fast and powerful compound exercise, it greatly increases overall strength, power, and speed. Furthermore, its hip-dominant nature also helps to improve core and posture stability as well.

Pushing your body upward with such a powerful force and actively pushing your feet into the ground will likely cause an upsurge of stabilization in the ankle, knee, and hip joints. This will in turn help to reduce the probability of injuries. Plus, since you are using multiple joints and muscles to lift the weight, the entire body is being worked out, including the shoulders, arms, and legs.

Additionally, by using explosive work, our heart rate will increase more drastically causing the body to work harder and burn fat faster. So not only are you improving your overall strength, but you’re also increasing your metabolic rate and burning calories.

Common Missteps and Tips

When learning how to perform the push jerk, it is important to practice proper form and technique to avoid potential injuries.

The most common misstep is not extending the arms and hips forward as the weight is pushed overhead. This can lead to shoulder impingement. It can also result in the course of the bar being off and the lifter having to swing back to properly position themselves with the bar. Additionally, another misstep is dropping straight down into a split position rather than moving into a split while actively pressing the weight overhead. This can put additional stress on the knees and can be very hard on the joints.

To avoid common missteps, keep in mind to drive off the floor and explosively extend the hips and arms. After pressing the weight overhead, rather than dropping straight down into a split, shift the weight over one leg before transitioning into a split. Additionally, keep the elbows tucked close to the body and the weight close to the torso. Doing so will ensure a safer and more efficient lift.

Variants of the Push Jerk

As you progress, there are several variants of the push jerk that can be incorporated into your program to help you increase difficulty, foster strength gains and practice technique.

One such variation is the push jerk with a pause. Pause at the bottom of the push jerk and press the weight overhead. This not only gives you time to reset your stance and grip, but it also allows you to work on training proper technique as you pause and reset before pushing the weight overhead.

Another variation is the push press + split jerk – which combines upper body pressing with lower body positioning. This is done by starting in a standing position, pressing the weight overhead, and then dropping into a split, catching the bar in a deep split position.

Lastly, the push jerk can be combined with an upper body pull such as the clean pull, which is done by quickly recovering the elbows and pulling the weight up. This can be done by starting in a standing position, pressing the weight overhead, and then immediately dropping back and pulling the weight up with the arms.

Coupled with proper practice and a progressive program, these variants can help create improvements in speed, strength and power. Make sure to adjust your program to accommodate the added complexity and difficulty, and focus on practicing proper form and technique before maxing out on the weight. Doing this will help to ensure that the lift happens efficiently and safely.

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Overall, the push jerk is an excellent and dynamic exercise that can be seamlessly incorporated into any training routine. Whether you’re starting from the beginner level or going for more advanced exercises, you can make amazing progress with the muscle and strength gains that come along with it. With the right weight and commitment to form, there are many benefits to making the push jerk a part of your weekly program.

Remember to begin slowly and work on proper technique, as well as to monitor your body during the movements. Stay safe, challenge yourself, and enjoy the progress as you build your upper body and core strength with the challenging and rewarding push jerk!

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