The Ultimate Guide On The Push Jerk for CrossFit

Working out can be daunting for most people, especially when you’re trying a new exercise or piece of machinery. Your mind can start to race anxiously with all sorts of self doubts. Well if you find that, that’s what is holding you back then look no further.

We’ve got you covered. Here you’ll find a complete guide to complete a Push Jerk exercise, as well as the benefits of said exercise, what you can use to complete the exercise and how you complete it properly in one fluid motion.

What is a Push Jerk?

A Push Jerk is a style of exercise in CrossFit strength that works out your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, calves, triceps and core. In other words it’s a full body exercise used to enhance your explosive power. Another name used for the exercise is a Power Jerk. The Push Jerk is one of nine fundamental CrossFit moves. Using this method of exercise can help benefit you to transition faster and improve the overall weight you can lift.

To complete the Push Jerk here is what you need to know, stand over a barbell and grip it so your arms extend just a little wider from your shoulder width. The barbell itself should be slightly lower than your shoulder height. Your stance should be with your feet at the width of your hips.

You should then bend your knees and begin to push the heels of your feet into the floo. Whilst you push you should use the upward momentum that you have created to lift the weight until your elbows are fully extended, you then need to catch weight overhead with your lower body in a slight squat position. Congratulations, you’ve just completed your first Push Jerk. 

Perfect your Form

The first thing you should do before applying lots of weight is to make sure that you’re comfortable with the technique you’re applying, for this we recommend you select a weight that you feel comfortable lifting repeatedly.

1. Make sure your hands are just wider than your shoulders and your feet are the same width as your hips. Make sure the bar is slightly below your shoulder height.

2. After making sure your hands and feet are the correct width apart, place your palms under the barbell and grab it with a full grip and rotate your arms so your elbows sit just in front of the barbell.

3. Once you have the correct grip, you should raise your chest without straightening out your spine, push your head a little bit back so as to stop the bar from hitting your neck. The weight should rest on your chest in front of your shoulders.


4. Un rack the barbell and take some steps back to give yourself some room, you should be standing up tall with a little bit of a bend in your knees. Your chin should be tucked during the whole of this movement. 

5. You then need to distribute the weight on your feet from toe to heel and then grip the floor. It is important that when doing this you should keep your ribs down and pelvis tucked in.


6. Then proceed to begin the jerk by bending your knees so that you’re in a slight squat position whilst keeping a strong upper body position.


7. From this position, dig your feet into the floor and begin to straighten your legs as much as you can. As you straighten, use the momentum to drive the weight above your head.


8.Whilst pushing the weight above your head you should proceed to drop into a slight squat position.

9. The position should finish with the barbell just behind your ears and with your arms fully locked over your head. Your chin should be tucked during the whole of this and your shoulders and upper back should be the muscle groups supporting the final position of the barbell with your shoulders sitting in front of your hips

10. While keeping your strong upper body position, stand tall and this will be the movement finished you should then lower the barbell back to shoulder height and prepare for another repetition. 

Perfecting this can help you improve your balance while you dip and drive which will be used for a range of exercises.

Push Jerk: The Benefits

Once you feel comfortable enough with the technique of the Push Jerk you should definitely consider making it a more permanent fixture of your work-out routine after all the benefits are immeasurable.

Like previously mentioned the Push Jerk is a full body exercise, which means that by doing this exercise you’re building muscles on top of muscles mainly your hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves, triceps and your core.

By building muscles on top of muscles you’re improving your explosive power which will then lead you to increasing your power output during other exercises such as deadlifts and overhead squats.

Practice is key for any improvement anywhere in life, by continuously improving your Push Jerk you are preparing yourself for more difficult weightlifting exercises that you will find easier to achieve.

Barbell vs Dumbbell

Really this is left up to you to decide, both forms of jerk are performed in the exact same way, the only thing that changes is the equipment you’re using. It comes down to what YOU feel more comfortable with, if you struggle with pre-existing shoulder or wrist injuries that can make a front rack barbell position uncomfortable then we definitely recommend using dumbbells as they can rest on your shoulders easing the strain you would feel with a barbell. 

A top tip, if you’re working on your form and technique of the Push Jerk is to start with dumbbells as you may find it easier to control the weight of them.

Push Jerk or Push Press

While incredibly similar exercises there are a couple of subtle differences. Those being, muscles worked, difficulty, movement power and movement efficiency.

The Push Press relies heavily on shoulder, tricep and upper chest strength and while the Push Jerk does rely on those muscle groups also, given that you allow yourself a slight bend in the knees the tension that your upper body would feel during a push press is therefore minimized. This means that greater loads can be used during the Push Jerk as you’re relying on the lower body and the explosiveness of it.

The Push Jerk is seen as a more complex exercise than the Push Press due to timing and speed of the whole movement needed to execute it properly. The Push press can be used to help develop stronger positions and fundamental strength while also teaching the lifter to properly dip and drive with the legs.

Both of the movements have been used to progress high amounts of output and power, which is beneficial for weightlifters, athletes, and anyone looking to become more athletic. The triple extension, which is the extension of the ankles, knees and hips is the most important part of athletic performance and is responsible for both of the explosive movements. While the movements differ they’re both great for improving lower body explosiveness and improving your overall athletic ability. 

In terms of efficiency of movement, the Push Jerk wins everytime. The Jerk allows you to re bend the knees to drop your body underneath the weight, lowering the amount that the weight will travel. By doing this the individual will use less strength and power to push the weight over their head and will be using the lower body more. It is suggested that you use the Push Jerk exercise to increase movement efficiency and increase the weight you’re adding.

Final Thoughts on the Push Jerk

The Push Jerk is a well rounded and important exercise for CrossFit partakers to be up to date on, benefiting the whole body in one fluid movement you can’t really complain. Like previously mentioned it is one of the nine fundamental movements in CrossFit, so it’s pretty important that if you’re competing in competitions that your technique is perfect and precise.

It is important that you remember your starting stance just as it is important that you remember your finishing stance so as to not have the movement look clangy and uncomfortable for the user. The benefits of the Push Jerk decrease your overall fatigue when doing other exercises such as deadlifts and overhead squats by increasing your overall power output.

For those not fully confident with the added weight of a barbell or maybe those who have struggled with wrist or shoulder injuries you can adjust this workout to fit dumbbells which decreases the strain on certain muscle groups and gives you more freedom when lifting.

Although being seen as a more complex workout than a Push Press it only differs slightly, those slight differences help to create a higher power output when doing the exercise, allowing the lifter to bend their knees takes away from the strain on your upper body activating the entire body and distributing the weight evenly.

Kevin Harris
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