Olympic Weightlifting Encyclopedia 29

The First Phase of the Jerk: The Start

At the start of the jerk, the shoulder and hip joints of the lifter and the bar all form a vertical line with, or slightly behind, the middle of the foot. The feet are placed approximately at the width of the hips, either straight or with the toes turned out slightly.. The arms are relaxed. The elbows are in front of the bar (if the bar were viewed from the lifter’s left side as the center of a clock, the elbows would be anywhere between the seven o’clock and nine o’clock positions). Lifters who keep the elbows relatively low (i.e., at the seven o’clock position) because they find a higher elbow position is uncomfortable or impedes their breathing at the start, sometimes raise the elbows just before the second part of the jerk begins. The head is normally tilted slightly back, and the line of sight is generally looking slightly up. The combined line of gravity of the bar and athlete, viewed from the side, is in the middle of the foot. The balance of the lifter can be anywhere in the middle third of the foot with a weight that is 150% of the athlete’s weight, though it is generally recommended that the weight of the lifter and the bar should be felt toward the rear portion of the middle of the foot, rather than toward the front. However, as the bar gets heavier, the point of balance through which the lifter can control the bar grows smaller. For a weight that is 275% of the lifter’s bodyweight, the range of balance is cut roughly in half, and most of the range lost is from the front half of the range that exists with 150% of bodyweight. The first phase of the jerk ends when the lifter begins to bend the knees for the initial dip.