Kettlebell Jerk

James Lee
• Wednesday, 02 December, 2020
• 7 min read

The Kettle bell Jerk is an excellent full body exercise that requires a high degree of coordination, timing, and the ability to generate maximum power in a short range of motion. Although it can be used for developing maximal strength, this movement is best suited for “work capacity,” or the ability to be strong, fast, and explosive over longer durations.

jerk kettlebell clean double training long cycle movements skillet ironbodybyartemis jerks train favorite
(Source: ironbodybyartemis.com)


In competition, athletes lift for five or ten minute sets for as much reps as possible with technical proficiency without putting the kdettlebells down. Ideally, the elbows are resting directly on the hips (Iliad crests), knees are locked, pelvis is forward, torso deflected back, and the thoracic spine is curved.

However, nuances of an individuals rack position will differ depending on body type. Two important points here are to first, “drop/fall” into the Half Squat to activate a stretch reflex instead of descending slowly.

This involves what is termed a “quadruple extension.” The ankles, knees, hip, and torso all extend during this movement. The degree of energy a competitor puts into this part of the movement is dependent on their body type, athletic attributes, etc.

To maximize efficiency, the arms are locked by dropping into a squatting posture instead of pressing up. The key is to pick a movement strategy that conserves energy and keeps the heart rate low.

In addition, the anterior pelvic tilt this mechanic creates relaxes the quadriceps. The triceps are turned “off” and the bells are lowered to the rack position via a controlled drop.

jerk kettlebell tips academy
(Source: www.onnit.com)

As the elbows begin to land in the rack position, the heels are lowered and the thoracic spine rounded to safely diffuse the load. The key is timing the bell to body contact with the shock absorption mechanics.

If a deep Under squat is used, then exhale upon landing into the Under squat, inhale during the stand to lockout; perform an additional breathing cycle in the top position, inhale at the beginning of the drop, and finally exhale as the elbows make contact into the rack. Descending too slowly when dropping into the Half Squat which negates the desired stretch reflex.

The key to success at a ten-minute competition set in kettle bell sport is to develop an excellent jerk technique. Most newbie kettle bell sport lifters approach this lift by “muscling” the bells overhead, using the legs too little and the arms and shoulders too much.

This power must be combined with the skill of quickly relaxing the entire body to drop and catch the kettle bells overhead. Let’s take a closer look at the five key stages of the kettlebelljerk and how to refine your technique in each part of the lift.

To begin the jerk, a good rack position with the elbows resting on the Iliad crests is vital. Continue to dig the elbows deep into the hips, or at least into the abdominal area, as the knees bend for the first dip.

jerk kettlebell tips key onnit correctly performing academy
(Source: www.onnit.com)

In the first dip of the jerk, the lifter must let the knees bend slightly in a crisp movement whilst making sure the elbows stay in contact with the hips. The lifter should squat under them, quickly relax the legs, send the hips back, and extend the elbows.

To successfully achieve the second dip, it is important that the lifter is lighting fast in switching his or her attention from driving upwards to “sitting” under the bells. Fixation is achieved when the kettle bells and the lifter’s body have stopped moving and there is a brief pause in the overhead position.

The athlete should then relax the arms and let the kettle bells drop freely, moving the head back slightly, catching the bells with the body, and absorbing the shock with the knees. If you watch an experienced lifter perform the jerk, you will see a noticeable wobble of the quads as they relax when the fixation overhead is reached.

To repeat high and heavy reps in kettle bell sport competition, understanding the correct breathing pattern in the jerk is vital. Correct breathing technique helps keep the mental panic at bay during arduous sets.

Holding the breath will cause uncontrolled rises in heart rate and blood pressure and will prematurely fatigue the lifter. There will either be no pause between lifts and once fixation is achieved the lifter can let the bells drop and exhale; or there will be a pause in the locked out overhead position, in which case the lifter will need to keep breathing with the bells held overhead before dropping them to start again.

jerk rack kettlebell correctly tips academy performing key onnit position hips
(Source: onnit.com)

Other Muscle Groups Worked in This Exercise: Triceps, Quadriceps, Calves Once the kettle bell is locked out, stand upright to complete the exercise.

Not only will this help you in your everyday life but it will also improve your performance in other sports and activities. As kettle bell clean & jerks involve a mix of big movements, performing them regularly will condition your body to the max.

Better overhead & upper body strength: By building well-conditioned shoulder muscle and placing focus on the back, working the clean & jerk into your kettle bell routine will boost your upper body as well your overhead strength no end. One of the greatest things about the kettle bell clean & jerk is that when it's performed well, it works vital muscle groups throughout the body, boosting strength in the legs, core, arms, upper back, and shoulders.

The starting position: After picking up the kettle bell carefully with your preferred hand, flex and bend your knees slightly (legs shoulder-width apart), keeping your shoulders squared and your back straight. Pull the kettle bell upwards and as you reach chest height, jerk it towards your shoulder, turning your wrist slightly so that your kettle bell rests on the side of your shoulder with your palm facing forward.

Don’t forget to turn the kettle bell so it rests in the side of your shoulder after the jerk. If you do forget, the kettle bell will bounce off the top of your shoulder or collar bone.

kettlebell double jerk form dip extension onnit squat glance crossfit wod academy i35 dragon crossfiti35
(Source: www.onnit.com)

Don’t jump straight into a kettle bell clean & jerk with little or no experience. If you’re straining too much during the movement, you should reconsider your kettle bell weight, starting small and working your way up over time.

Kettle bell workouts are intended to increase strength, endurance, agility and balance, challenging both the muscular and cardiovascular system with dynamic, total-body movements. Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, London, Ottawa, Kingston, Mississauga, Markham, Richmond Hill, North York, Ontario.

However, not too many people realize that kettle bell training is a great way to pack on some functional size and strength. Kettle bell training is quick and enjoyable, which is one of the reasons you’ll stick with it.

The glutes and all the hip muscles are strongly emphasized in KB training. Mechanically, if you’re not firing your glutes when you lift or extend your hip, you are compensating by overusing your lower back muscles.

In a martial arts or fighting context, “enduring strength” is a very important skill. Maximal strength is very important as well, but the well-rounded fighter must be prepared to deliver multiple strikes in combinations.

jerk clean kettlebell technique
(Source: www.youtube.com)

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1 www.senior-exercise-central.com - http://www.senior-exercise-central.com/kettlebells-for-seniors.html
2 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/kettlebell-exercises-for-seniors-and-older-adults/
3 livehealthy.chron.com - https://livehealthy.chron.com/kettlebell-exercises-seniors-5206.html