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What Is a CrossFit Push Jerk?

author image Jeremy Hoefs
Based in Nebraska, Jeremy Hoefs began writing fitness, nutrition, outdoor and hunting articles in 2006. His articles have been published in "Star City Sports," "Hunting Fitness Magazine" and RutWear field journals, as well as on the Western Whitetail website. Hoefs graduated with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
What Is a CrossFit Push Jerk?
A woman is holding a barbell over her head. Photo Credit Ammentorp Photography/iStock/Getty Images

The CrossFit training philosophy revolves around using functional exercises for a constantly varied cycle of workouts. The functional exercises range from major lifts, such as the deadlift and squat, to basic bodyweight movements, such as pullups and pushups. One of the most advanced lifts to build total body strength is the push jerk -- an overhead lift using a barbell and weights.


Every CrossFit exercise follows a specific technique and range of motion for safety and to increase the effectiveness of the movement. The push jerk isn’t any different. The push jerk starts with the barbell supported in the racked position on the front of your shoulders and top of the chest. Begin the movement by dipping into a quarter-squat and driving the barbell to the overhead position as you catch the bar in a partial squat. Finish the push jerk by standing up to fully open the hips.


After mastering the traditional push jerk, learn variations used in CrossFit workouts. The combination of the push jerk and the variations helps to develop overall strength, speed, power and flexibility as a foundation for learning other barbell and Olympic lifts. Common variations include the clean and jerk and split jerk. The clean and jerk is characterized by starting the movement with a squat clean and finishing with a push jerk. The split clean starts the same as a push jerk but finishes by catching the bar overhead in a lunge position.


CrossFit workouts and exercises are designed for universal scalability, making it possible to progress gradually with the push jerk. Learn the basic movements for the push jerk by starting with the shoulder press and push press before attempting the push jerk. Add the clean and jerk into your warmup or skill work before the main workout of the day until you feel comfortable to perform the prescribed weight for the push jerk.


The push jerk exercise is common for various CrossFit workouts, including strength workouts and hero workouts. For example, a strength workout might call for five sets of five repetitions on the push jerk using as much weight as possible. A common benchmark workout is “Grace,” a girl-named workout that includes completing 30 repetitions of the clean and jerk using 135 pounds. An example of a hero workout is “DT,” which includes five rounds for time of 12 deadlifts, nine hang power cleans and 6 push jerks using 155 pounds.

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