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Movement Spotlight: Split jerk

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The split jerk requires an immense amount of power and is used to lift the most weight in a heavy clean and jerk. In WODs, we tend to gravitate toward the push jerk in favor of speed, but if we really want to move serious weight, the split jerk is the way to go. We’ll be working it a lot this cycle, so here are some tips to get the most out of the movement.

Work on body position in the catch

In the catch position, look for a nice straight line between the bar, shoulders, and hips. The shin of the front leg should be vertical and the back knee should be bent. The weight of the back foot should be on the ball of the foot (just like a lunge) and aligned with the knee. The shoulders and hips should be directly underneath the bar as your receive. This will automatically happen if you drop straight down and push the bar behind you.

Catch position

Perfect your hip drive

The more powerful your hip drive, the higher you will be able to get the bar, therefore making your split even easier. A great way to work on this is with heavy push presses. Make sure you’re driving up onto your toes, and don’t let the bar leave the body until you’ve reached triple extension (hips, knees, and toes!). If you tend to push the bar away from you as you drive and lose the bar forward, working on more push jerks and focusing on pushing the bar back as it goes up will transfer well to the split jerk.

Improve your front rack

Having a comfortable shelf on which to rest the bar in the set-up leads to a powerful dip and drive and a vertical bar path. If keeping your chest and elbows up during the dip is a struggle, you may need to work on your thoracic mobility, as well as loosening up your lats and triceps. Often, the elbows will drop not because of a lack of mobility but because of a tendency to push with the arms early (prior to hip extension). Think about letting the shoulders drive through the bar before pushing with the arms.

Front rack

Get loud

Oftentimes, a quiet split jerk is an indication of the lifter being too slow under the bar or not elevating the bar enough to achieve the right foot position. At the top of the drive, drop hard and slide the feet out, as opposed to jumping up and lifting the legs up in an arc. If you’re aggressive and fast under the bar, the feet will naturally make noise on the catch.

It takes time

It’s very common to push press or push jerk more than you can split jerk in the beginning. With practice, you’ll get more comfortable receiving the bar in the split position. Getting there takes lots of work with the empty bar and light weight. If you’re feeling unstable or weak in the catch, try some alternating lunges, overhead split squats, presses in jerk stance, Bulgarian split squats, and other single leg exercises.

We’re learning a lot of new things this cycle. Keep an open mind, work hard, and trust the programming.