Whether you’re new to Olympic weightlifting or trying to refine your technique, we’ve laid out the basic mechanics of the split jerk, the benefits, muscles worked, and how to get up and under the barbell from a front racked position, to dip then drive more weight overhead and crush your personal record.
What Is The Split Jerk
Split jerk is essentially the second part to the clean and jerk. Yet as opposed to finishing the clean and jerk with a traditional push jerk, the dip and drive ends up in a slightly modified overhead movement, the split jerk.
The split jerk pushes a loaded barbell from a front rack position overhead just like the push jerk. However, the difference is feet positioning. From the dip, your dominant foot will jump forward, while your opposite foot will drive back, catching the bar overhead in a locked position, ending up with a split foot positioning. Hence, split jerk.
Split Jerk Muscles Worked
The split jerk is going to work and activate the same muscle groups, joints, and secondary stabilizers just as the CrossFit push jerk. The difference here once again, is the foot positioning once landed in the split stance. This will place more emphasis on glutes, hamstrings, calves, and the entire posterior chain. The split jerk requires a tremendous amount of compound muscle recruitment and activation, not to mention active and profound mind-body development. The split jerk demands perfect technique.
Split Jerk Benefits
1. Shoulder Mobility And Strength
The split jerk will help build more shoulder strength, stability from your core, and improve overall mobility in your wrist and shoulders. From the clean into the jerk, you are actively recruiting nearly every muscle in your body. However, the dip then drive, is going to rely on your core, hip power, and shoulder strength to push that weight overhead.
2. Total Body Strength
The split jerk is a compound movement, meaning it actively recruits several muscle groups, conjoining secondary muscles, stabilizers, and joints. Essentially, the split jerk works every muscle in your body, with a flawless and smooth execution. More total body strength will translate to more power output in other movements and translate to better functional movement.
3. Core Stability
Core stability is at the center of every Olympic weightlifting movement. Better core and midline stability will result in powerful body movement, power, and the split jerk can greatly benefit your core strength. You most likely won’t be performing prescribed sets of split jerks in your programming and will build core strength and stability with ancillary lifts and resistance training. Nonetheless, split jerk does benefit your core and midline strength and stability.
How To Split Jerk With Perfect Form
Watch this video and read our tips to learn perfect your split jerk technique.
Phase One: The Set-Up
- Following the clean from a front rank position, he bar should be in the palms of your hands and not on your fingertips. If you find that it’s painful to be in a front rack position, then you will need to work on your wrist mobility.
- Your elbows should be positioned slightly in front of bar while it is resting on your shoulders.
- Make sure your midline and core is tight while your brace for the push, pushing your abs into your ribs, holding your breath, as you dip.
- The jerk is a “jumping” movement, therefore your feet should be in a jumping position at shoulder width (and the same set-up for your snatch).
Phase Two: The Dip & Drive
- Control your movement as you dip. Ensure you move straight down so that your torso is vertical throughout the movement.
- As you drive the weight up focus on moving your torso straight up as well.
- Your weight should be in full foot but more toward your heels.
Phase Three: The Receiving Position
- The receiving position and lockout for the split jerk is a half-lunge. Your front shin should be as vertical, knee behind your toe, with your back leg slightly bent.
- when you hit the split make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. A common mistake with the split jerk, often referred to as “walking the tightrope” implies that your feet are too narrow which makes it extremely hard to balance while holding weight overhead.
- In the lockout your torso should be erect and upright. Sometimes people end up punching their head and torso THROUGH instead of DOWN, which can cause them to miss the lift.
- The bar should be over your upper back or behind the ears, and not over the top of your head, but tucked. Use your shoulders and upper back to support the overhead load.
Phase 4: The Release
- Once you’ve hit your lift, you need to get the bar back down to the ground safely. First, you need to get your feet back to starting position.
- Take a half step back with our front foot first, then step your back foot forward to towards the front. This will help you maintain control of the bar.
- The bar must stay overhead until both feet are back to your starting stance. At that point, you may lower it to your chest or drop it to the floor.
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