When we think about the jerk, we envision driving the barbell overhead, but this is only half of the equation. A successful jerk is dependent upon a stable and efficient dip: one where the lifter maintains a strong core and loads the legs properly. Many missed jerks have been the result of lazy dips that do not allow the lifter to utilize their full power for a strong lockout, or rushed dips that force the lifter to shift out of position, pushing the bar out front instead of overhead. Therefore, it behooves every lifter to develop strong and efficient technique for the dip.
The Benefits of the Jerk Dip
The jerk dip is a useful exercise for learning how to engage the midline and create tension in the legs. Practicing the jerk dip teaches a lifter how to time the dip and allows a lifter to feel out weight that might be heavier than what they can currently jerk. Finally, lifters who are combating upper body injuries or limitations can continue to develop their jerk by working on the dip portion of the lift.
1. Bracing the Core Throughout the Dip
Though the arms finish the jerk by pushing the bar overhead, most of the power behind the jerk comes from the legs. What connects the arms and the legs? Well, the core of course. When a lifter maintains a tight core, the force generated by the legs travels through the midline and is applied to the bar. When the core is not properly braced, much of the energy created by the legs is lost before it can be used to drive the bar upwards. Therefore, lifters should focus on using their breath to push against the abdominal wall for midline stabilization. This should be done while setting up for the dip and maintained throughout for maximum efficiency.
2. Properly Loading the Legs
Far too often, I see lifters dip so low that they are essentially performing a squat. The lower a lifter dips, the more energy is directed to standing up with the bar rather than to pushing the bar overhead. The purpose of the dip is to recruit the leg muscles in assisting with the drive, not to fatigue the legs. To do this, a lifter need only dip four to six inches. Performing the jerk dip allows a lifter to develop a sense of how to properly load the legs so that they can mimic this feel when performing actual jerks.
3. Understanding the Timing of the Dip
Beginning lifters often watch advanced lifters and note their speed. Trying to emulate this, they rush their dip, their weight shifts forward, and they drive the bar too far out…