How to do the Jerk Recovery for a Stronger Overhead Position in your Weightlifting

Exercise selection in the sport of weightlifting is imperative, as you need to be aware of your specific weaknesses in order to address them and improve. With that being said, if you have been in the game of weightlifting, you will likely fall within the category of always needing to work on your jerk. The harsh reality is that most of us do! Every now and then you'll come across an anomaly whom the jerk naturally comes to. If that isn't you, then I’d highly recommend that you give the rest of this blog a read.

"The choice of exercises should be based on the athlete's individual needs, goals, and biomechanical characteristics. Selecting appropriate exercises ensures that training adaptations are specific and transferable to the athlete's sport."

Source: Fleck, S.J., & Kraemer, W.J. (2014). Designing resistance training programs. Human Kinetics.

The Jerk Recovery is an assistant tool for your split or power jerk.

As this is an assistant lift, I would highly recommend that when you include this in your training program you keep that in mind. To get better at the jerk, you must do more jerks! Under the supervision of a good coach.

What is the purpose of the Jerk Recovery?

The purpose behind the Jerk Recovery is to overload the end phase of the Clean & Jerk in order to: increase the conversion rate of successful makes on heavy attempts. Reinforce and strengthen the overhead position whilst having to recover and build confidence with your 1 Rep Max. A positive of this variation is that due to the nature of the movement having to move through a short range of motion, you are able to load this movement in an excess of 100%. Most elite level athletes go to the ranges of 105-120%.

What equipment do I need to do the Jerk Recovery?

You will need a Power Rack to safely and effectively execute this lift. The Power Rack should ideally come with Safety Pins which you can adjust the height according to your receiving position. Generally, Power Racks are drilled into the gym floor or they are heavy and sturdy enough that no loads will cause any displacement.

When Should Jerk Recoveries be incorporated into your program?

It would be an injustice to rigidly stipulate when Jerk recoveries need to be programmed. However, as it is an assistant lift, it would be advisable to include this as a third or fourth exercise within your training program. This is typically where squats or pulls would be placed on a training plan.

Here’s how to effectively execute the jerk recovery:

As a way to cite the value that I personally derive from the Jerk Recovery, I’ll quote Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics verbatim on his thoughts around the lift:

"The jerk recovery strengthens the jerk overhead and split position and improves stability in the split and during the recovery to standing.

Set up a barbell in a power rack at a height 1-2 inches below where it would be overhead in your split jerk receiving position. Set your jerk grip on the bar and step or jump into your split position underneath it, setting the upper back forcefully and locking the arms into position.

With the trunk braced tightly, push with the legs straight up to lift the bar off the pins. Once stable, recover from the split position into a standing position by stepping back about a third of the distance with the front foot, and then bringing the back foot forward to meet the front.

Lower the bar back onto the rack by bending at the knees.


The most difficult part of the exercise is usually the initial break of the bar off the rack and ensuring it’s balanced. Make sure you’re tight and start by lifting straight up instead of trying to start by pushing back off the front foot.


The jerk recovery is a way to strengthen the overhead position and the split position that allows the use of weights beyond what the lifter can jerk, or at least can or should jerk at that time. It can also be used to practice the footwork of the recovery from the split and actively maintaining the balance and position of the bar overhead during the recovery. It can also help with confidence in the jerk.


The jerk recovery should generally be placed at or near the end of a workout. Single lifts or 2-3 repetitions are most common. Weights can range anywhere from 90% to over 100% of the lifter’s best jerk—ideally a lifter is able to do the exercise with more than their best jerk. Often a lifter can just work up to the heaviest possible on a given day.”

Jerk Recovery | Olympic Weightlifting Exercise Library

About the Author:

Vuyani Mashego is a Strength Coach at Desert Barbell Strength Gym specializing in Weight Lifting. Hailing from South Africa, he has spent the past decade competing in all forms of weightlifting, Crossfit, Functional Training, and Physique modeling. He teaches entry-level, intermediate as well as competitive weightlifting. His keen eye for improving technique and his background in Psychology make him an empowering soundboard.

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