One of the most common problems we see in the jerk outside of footwork comes down to overhead stability. As a coach in the CrossFit world more often than not I see athletes who have come from a basic general sports program or a Globo gym and therefore are overly developed in the anterior deltoid and pectoral muscles and underdeveloped in the posterior delt and trap muscles. Due to this imbalance, a lot of times we see athletes who can get the bar overhead but have no strength or stability to hold it there.
I recently have begun working on one of our athletes on this specific problem. When I first saw him jerk I was impressed by his footwork and speed underneath the bar. I remember watching him attempt to jerk at 305 and I thought he had easily made the weight when all of a sudden the bar came crashing down behind him. This athlete had all the footwork and speed in the world but had no strength overhead to hold the bar in place. After a couple of adjustments to bar placement overhead, specifically a little more external rotation of the shoulder, we have begun to see improvements.
However what this athlete needs more than anything is more time under a bar where he is forced to remain stable both in his traps, rhomboids, and midline.
We are fixing this with numerous different exercises but once a week I have this athlete put a significant amount of weight overhead and walk around with it. Yes I said he walks around with 225 pounds or more above his head. Currently he is forced to walk 25 feet forwards, 25 feet backwards, and then 10 feet to each side. My hope is that he would eventually be able to do this with 85-%-90% of his jerk max.
Much of his lack of development overhead comes from his speed. He is able to get weights overhead. However, because he is fast he is able to transition out of the OH position quickly. Basically he doesn’t have to spend much time with significant weight over his head and as a result he is under-developed in that position.
I face the same problem and as much as this exercise sucks, it works. Here’s an example of what it should look like.
Gerald Sasser 225# OH Walk