Jerk Balance Exercise Guide — Form, Muscles Worked, & Variations

jerk balance and olympic lifting

The jerk balance improves your Olympic lifting technique, balance, and pressing ability. 

The jerk is the final element of the Olympic clean and jerk sequence, encompassing the dip, drive, receive, and recovery phases. Mastering the jerk is crucial for completing the lift; practicing exercises such as the jerk balance is critical to refining your technique.

When executing the jerk, you have the power, squat, or split jerk options, each with its unique receiving position. The jerk balance specifically aids in training for the split jerk, teaching you how to drive through and beneath the jerk effectively. The jerk balance offers a comprehensive full-body workout, targeting muscles in your shoulders, arms, core, and legs. Additionally, it serves as an effective method for refining your pushing and pressing techniques.

This guide provides comprehensive instructions on executing the jerk balance, highlighting its numerous advantages. Additionally, you’ll discover a selection of exercises designed to enhance your pressing and balance, which will carry over to Olympic lifting and workout performance. 

Techniques & Muscles Worked

The jerk balance targets your quads, calves, triceps, glutes, back, shoulders, and abs (1). You only need the barbell, which you can add weights to, but if you’re a beginner, we advise starting with an empty bar.

To do a jerk balance, you need a strong mind-muscle connection, as this routine can be technical. Just remember to keep your torso upright to avoid losing your balance. Check out the step-by-step guide below.

  1. Pick up the barbell and then assume a split stance position. Your back foot should rest on the balls without the heels touching the floor.
  2. Next, put the barbell in the front rack like you would doing a front squat. The bar should be on your shoulders with your elbows pointing forward.
  3. Bend your front knee slightly to dip. This is your starting position.
  4. Drive up with your back leg to press the bar upward.
  5. At the top of the motion, where you lock out your hands, shift your front foot forward about 10 to 20 cm. 
  6. Catch the bar at lockout, pause, and slowly lower it back to your shoulders.
  7. Return your leg to the starting position to complete the rep.
  8. Repeat for multiple reps, switch legs, and do steps 1-7 again.


The jerk balance is a great accessory exercise when training for the Olympic clean and jerk. However, bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts can also use this routine for other benefits. Below are the benefits of the jerk balance.

Master the Receiving Position for the Jerk

Some bad habits present when doing the jerk balance include overloading your front foot, improper weight distribution between legs, and leaving your hips behind. The jerk balance helps you correct these bad habits. It’ll also teach you how to keep your torso upright while leading with your front foot under the jerk.

Improve Your Balance

Doing the jerk in the split stance will task your balance. As a result, the jerk balance will strengthen those stabilizer muscles over time. Your overall balance will improve the better you get at doing this exercise. 

Build Your Pressing Muscles

The jerk balance also hits the pushing muscles of your body to explode objects overhead while standing, as the clean and jerk. These include the quads, shoulders, and triceps. Over time, you’ll find that your pressing form is better, as these are the same muscles you use for pressing movements. 

Find & Fix Any Imbalances

Jerk balances work on your lower body, one leg at a time. Doing this routine will help you quickly find which side is weaker. You can then fix this imbalance by doing extra reps on the weaker side.

Carryover to Other Exercises

The jerk balance has carryover to Olympic lifts. It can also help your form with the split jerk and other pressing routines. 

Vary Your Training

As a fitness enthusiast or bodybuilder, you must vary your routines. Research shows that doing so can help prevent training monotony and a plateau (2). The jerk balance is a different way to train and target your muscles.

Jerk Balance Alternatives

The jerk balance is a great exercise to add to your workout. Depending on your goal, you can mix it with other routines for a more robust program. Below are some alternatives you can also try if the goal is to improve your pressing form and balance. 


Dips also work on your pressing form because they build your chest and shoulders. Dips also work on arm muscles like the triceps and activate your core and stabilizers to keep you centered. 

Turkish Get Up

The Turkish get-up works on your lats, glutes, core, hamstrings, traps, triceps, and calves. It also increases your shoulder mobility and balance and develops your core. These are important when doing exercises like the overhead press.

Pin Press

The pin press primarily targets your chest, shoulders, and triceps. This routine can help you increase your pressing strength and ability. It’s also a good exercise for pressing through sticking points.


Is the jerk balance a good exercise?

Yes, the jerk balance is a good exercise. It improves your balance and targets muscles in your upper body, core, and lower body

Is the jerk balance a good technique?

Yes, the jerk balance is a good technique for finishing your clean and jerk. It helps you carry out the receive and recovery part of the jerk correctly.

What are the benefits of the jerk balance?

The jerk balance is a great routine for improving your Olympic lifting form. It can also help you improve your press. For more benefits, check the exercise guide above.

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  1. Eriksson Crommert, M., Ekblom, M. M., & Thorstensson, A. (2014). Motor control of the trunk during a modified clean and jerk lift. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 24(5), 758–763.
  2. Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4897.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.