May 8, 2011
May 17, 2011
Knee Jerk Reaction

Tuesday night’s class opened up with a warm-up that was a little different than most: 3-person hand-stand walks. To carry-out, kick up into a handstand while your two partners catch & hold each of your legs, and then walk your hands forward. Active shoulders are a must, but to maintain active shoulders, you’ll need small hand-steps and a tight midline. Without those two things, it usually turns into an extra-elevated wheelbarrow walk. Different? Yes. Fun? Potentially. Purposeful? Absolutely.

After last Thursday’s clean and jerk complex, it was decided that we could all benefit from some technical help, especially on the jerks. Welcome the Jerk Balance.

Strength: Jerk Balance (scaled to Split Jerks)

Begin with the bar in the normal rack position for the jerk, feet set together as you would with a regular jerk (pic @ Left, below). Now split your feet to approximately half the final split jerk length (pic @ Middle, below). Your back foot should remain where in this position for the rest of the movement. From this position, dip and drive the bar up overhead while pushing against your planted back foot while moving the front foot the remaining distance into the final split position (pic @ Right, below).


The easiest way to find this ‘partial split position’ is to set up with your feet together (below @ top left), then perform a full split jerk (below @ top right); from this position, step your lead foot back to it’s beginning point (below @ bottom left) – this is the starting position for the Jerk Balance; the finished position for the Jerk Balance should be the same as for the Jerk (below @ bottom right).


The key to Jerk Balance is to forcefully push the hips forward to get under the bar, “rather than simply diving the chest forward through the arms.” By focusing on the hips pushing forward, rather than the chest, your body will feel centered with the weight back and balanced between the feet (as aptly demonstrated by Coach Mike Choi in the pic below).

Note that the chest will need to drive through the arms in order to achieve the correct overhead position, this is a movement that occurs only AFTER the feet have made contact with the ground. Attempting to push the chest through the arms (rather then pushing the hips forward) to get under the bar will actually push the hips farther back, preventing the lead foot from traveling far enough forward and shifting too much weight onto the lead leg. (paraphrased heavily from Greg Everett’s ‘Olympic Weightlifting, Second Edition’)

Conditioning: Burpee Ladder

With a partner, perform a 10-1 burpee ladder for time (e.g., P1 does 10 burpees, then P2 does 10 burpees, then 9 & 9, etc.) Results:

Introducing the new Gradient Burpee*:

may only be performed if, upon completion, the athlete immediately calculates the slope of his or her burpee represented by m in the equation y=mx + c. Note that the athlete performing the Gradient Burpee may also calculate the slope by the rise (change in y) ÷ run (change in x).
*Not recommended for non-statistician crossfitters

Great work with a potentially awkward new movement. There was a lot of good attention to form, and I could see a lot of people really working to understand both the Jerk and the Jerk Balance, as well as execute them properly. If you still have questions, please post them to comments.

Also, congratulations to Greg on his One Year Anniversary with CrossFit DC! Here’s to another year.



  1. Maiko D. says:

    Burpee ladder sounds like fun…

    Congratulations on one year of CFDC Greg! And I’m going to take a wild guess and say that’s an old picture of Greg, only b/c I see rowers in the background. Grrr….

  2. Greg says:

    Thanks Maiko. Can’t believe it’s been a year already.