Over the past couple days it seems like I have looked at lifters or looked at my own lifts and been forced to face-up to the difference in the capability to move a weight overhead and the ability to hold it there.
There is a HUGE difference in the two. Power and ability to move a heavy load often utilizes different muscle groups than those needed to hold the weight overhead. For instance, a split jerk primarily utilizes the leg drive and hip extension as the primary mover. In the same sentence a strict press is primarily a posterior deltoid exercise. However, for both the press and split jerk as well as any overhead movement, the thoracic spine, rhomboids, posterior shoulder muscles, and traps are the stabilizers and thus the muscle group working for overhead stability.
What I have seen over the past year and most pointedly over the past couple days is that many athletes have the capacity to get a heavy bar to arms length and in place overhead but lack the strength to hold it there.
I struggle pretty massively with this. When I watch something like this I can’t imagine holding a PR weight that long over my head. He looks so relaxed, comfortable, and isn’t struggling to hold it there at all. When I jerked 155 I couldn’t wait to drop the bar. If you had asked me to the bar in place for 5 seconds I likely would have crumbled.
There is however a solution that can easily be added into your training to help with this problem without adding an exercise. When you have jerks of any type programmed in pause at every overhead point for longer than you need to. So when you catch the bar in the split, pause before recovering. When you recover with the bar overhead for any jerk, pause longer than normal before dropping the bar. Pausing in the split, recovering slow and under control, and pausing before dropping the bar will, over time, increase your stability and strength overhead.
The pause will not take much from your training, it doesn’t require additional added exercises, and over time will benefit you greatly. Give it a shot.