I’ve been working on my push-jerks since I learned proper form at the Level 1 Cert. That wasn’t the first time I’d worked the jerk, though. Last May, I visited San Francisco CrossFit, and got the chance to work with Adrian Bozman, CFHQ Trainer and master of all kinds of circus-y tricks. He also happens to be a damn good coach. We were messing around with my overhead squats, and I mentioned I hadn’t worked the push-jerk yet. He spent a few minutes going through the form with a piece of PVC, but quickly noticed that my shoulder flexibility was going to be a serious limiting factor.
He took me through a five minute warm-up drill that works your shoulder flexibility through the overhead squat. After working the drill, we went right back to the push-jerk. Damn if my form didn’t improve immediately. My posture was better, I could get my arms back by my ears with a narrower grip and I no longer had that uncomfortable tightness in my right shoulder.
When I got home, I began incorporating this drill into almost all my warm-ups. My shoulder range of motion began to improve quickly. I found the drill so much more effective than the dislocates I’d been doing. I thought I’d pass this along, as lots of CrossFitters find flexibility to be the limiting factor in lots of overhead exercises, including the OHS, the jerk and even kipping pull-ups.
The Coach Boz OHS Warm-Up
1. Do a few sets of dislocates (or “pass-throughs”). If you don’t know what those are, here’s a video on YouTube. (This guy is doing them WAY too fast, though. Slow it down.) Take your hands really wide, shrug your shoulders hard and pass the bar up and over, until it touches your lower back. Keeping your arms straight, bring the bar back around to the front. Move your hands in a little bit closer after every 5-10 reps, until you reach the point where you can no longer keep your arms straight. (By the way, that point – as close as you can get your hands without a break in your elbows – is your overhead squat and snatch grip.) Make the circles with your arms BIG, and make them count – don’t just whip through them. Try to hold at any sticking points, to get extra stretch.
2. Take your dowel/PVC and do a set of 10 OHS, as usual, as a warm-up (to the warm-up).
3. With the same normal OHS grip and normal foot position, squat down into the “hole” and hold it for a count of five. Focus on driving the shoulders UP towards your ears (active shoulders), and maintaining as much of a vertical torso/arm position as possible. Remember to push your knees OUT – don’t let them drift in.
4. Stand up, move your hands in (towards each other) on the bar a few inches, and move your feet in the same distance. With this narrower stance, drop into the hole and hold for a count of five. You may notice you are leaning forward more here, and your arms are coming forward more. Focus on driving the shoulders UP (more UP than BACK – think “active”) and keep your torso as upright as you can.
5. Repeat three or four more times, moving hands and feet in for each rep. During your last rep, hands and feet should be almost together. You may not get down very far at this point, and you may be leaning crazy forward. That position should improve with time and practice.
You end up doing 4-5 static holds in the bottom position of the OHS, each with a more narrow hand and foot position than the last. When you are done, do a few more dislocates, and see if you can move your arms in a bit closer now that you’re more stretched out.
I would have posted a picture of each portion of this drill, but my hip is still kind of tweaked from our high-bar session over the weekend. I’m not squatting again until next week, but I’ll get something up soon. There’s another shoulder opening wall stretch that I want to post as well, but my gym boyfriend wasn’t around to take a picture this morning. And I wasn’t about to ask a stranger… this pose is as close to “smut” as you’ll ever see on this site. (That’s a teaser, huh?)
BIG thank you to Adrian Bozman, who graciously allowed me to repost this warm-up drill. He said he probably can’t even take the credit for it, since he probably learned it from someone else… but it’ll always be the Coach Boz drill to me.