April 16, 2012
April 20, 2012

While our focus on upper body strength is paying off, there will doubtless come a time when pure strength simply won’t be enough to get a weight overhead. That’s when we reach for the jerk, which will allow us to use our entire body to stand up with a weight, rather than simply our shoulders and upper-back. Tuesday’s class focused specifically on using the split jerk, the partner to the clean in Olympic lifting.

5 x 3 Split Jerk 

To ensure that everyone was on the same general page with split jerks, class began (post-warm-up) with some un-weighted split jerks. With no bar, and no arm movement, we worked through the process of pulling the feet apart into the lunge-like position that makes up the landing for the split jerk. After a few more practice runs, this time combining the foot movement with an overhead press (using imaginary bars), class rotated over to the platforms for their working sets of split jerks, using at least one set with the bar to warm-up.

In between each set of split jerks, everyone performed a set of 5 un-weighted Bulgarian Split Squats/leg, using a 1-2-1-0 Tempo in place of added weight (meaning a 1-count lower, a 2-count hold at the bottom, a 1-count rise, and then a quick turn around into the next rep with no hold at the top).

We’ve gotten a lot of use out of Coach Mike Choi’s Points of Review for the Jerk, but a few of the points bear highlighting as they seem to be common stumbling blocks:

  • It’s not a press up. Drive yourself aggressively under the bar with as much speed as possible while exerting constant upwards pressure on the bar. 
  • Upon landing, the ball of the front foot should be driving into the floor, with the knee angle at greater than 90 degrees – anything less than 90 will create instability in the feet and will cause the body to lean forward excessively:
In this photo, you can see the acute angle of the front knee is causing the torso to lean forward over the front leg.  Beyond creating instability in the receiving position (especially the front foot), this will demand that the lifter press and stabilize the weight behind their head in order to keep it in the middle of their landing position.
  • Turn your feet in slightly at the bottom of the split, especially the rear foot, to allow for absorption. 
  • Recover by bringing the front foot forward, then the back foot (then the front foot again if you are tall or have a deep split). Moving the back foot first can create quite a bit of instability during the recovery.

Once the technique is dialed in, the split jerk can help with heavy overhead work. For those of you interested in seeing the Jerk at work, be sure to drop by the Cap City Open this Saturday at the gym – click on the link to jump to the information page, or you can click to see the Start List, which will tell you when your fellow athletes will be lifting.

8 rounds for time of 
5 DB Thrusters 
5 Strict Chin Ups 
5 V-Ups

Both evening classes had time caps put in place, but the 7pm class was so large that the chin-ups were actually removed from the workout and put at the end as a post-met-con finisher. Scaling for the chin-ups were jumping for the 6pm (during the workout) and band-assisted during the 7pm (post-workout). Thruster weight was meant to be heavy, with guys RX’d weight set at 50lbs and ladies at 30lbs. Everyone finished before the time cap, although the time remaining for the 7pm class to get there pull-ups in was cut a little short.

Great work, especially on working through a more technical movement. If any of you have questions about attending this weekend, please don’t hesitate to ask. Also, the first mini-wave of the squat cycle is over, and it’s great to see everyone really working to get their squats in if they can’t make it to class on Sunday. The dedication is really awesome and inspiring. Keep up the good work!



  1. Steph says:

    It was great to be in class yesterday after being away for 1+ week!

    I was able to get to the gym at 6 to make up my squats from Sunday. I have a feeling that even though I can manage to get my Sunday squats in, not being able to workout regularly on other days of the week will slow my progress and that I won’t see the 10% gain others will. 120 felt fairly heavy yesterday. I guess we’ll see how the next mini cycle goes.

    It was good to work on the feet position without a bar for the split jerk. I had maybe only worked on split jerks once before, but having watched Chris work on his enough I found my feet get in to position pretty easily yesterday. Although it might be a completely different story once I have a bar in my hands. Chris had me do strict presses instead of split jerks, and I tried to focus on keeping my core tight and glutes squeezed.

    I used fairly light dbs for the metcon and subbed crunches for the v-ups. There might be some rumors floating around in the comments today that I was trying to get out of doing pull-ups. Completely untrue! I don’t know why anyone would say that…

  2. Andraea says:

    Hmmmm… I can think of about 6 witnesses to confirm that allegation. Trying to get out of pull-ups should be punishable by having to do 100 pull-ups! Just a thought… We’ll get you to like them yet! I’m enjoying the weekly pull-up work cause I need it. It was inspiring to watch Julia bang them out like it was nothing! One day…

    My split jerk ar the beginning was all over the place. It helped to stop thinking about it so much and also Tom pointing out that I needed to be faster on driving the bar upwards. That helped and focused on that. Landing with my legs in good position was also a challenge. This is a lift I would like to work on more and get more comfortable with it.

  3. Erica says:

    I did my squats and hamstring work yesterday and am really feeling it today. Surprisingly, I’m also really feeling it in my calves, which I can’t exactly explain. The split jerks were light, And I definitely wasn’t on my toes, nor did I think I was on my toes during the 25# thrusters. I liked having to up the weight for the thrusters. I also like split jerking, but how to translate the movement (or push jerks for that matter) into helping me lift heavier weight feels unnatural still.

  4. SBV says:

    @Erica: You worked really hard on those squats yesterday. You actually hit a sticking point and had to drive through it. That was neat to see. You and your lady friends tend to err on the light side for squats, so it was awesome to see you really working hard to drive some serious weight. I’m excited to watch MC do the same tonight.

  5. Amelia says:

    SBV is famous: http://www.bobbyscottperformance.com/

    Check him out. Commentary by Erica.

  6. Dan Samarov says:

    Started feeling a bit better on the split jerks… definitely a work in progress for me, but now’s the time to do it! I’m not sure what it was about the metcon, but it definitely did a number on me.

  7. Erica says:

    Thanks SBV! I’m seriously hurting today. Seriously. And I wouldn’t say my lady friends and I err, but I would say AIR…

  8. Katie says:

    Steph, I don’t know what you’re talking about, you happily did pull-ups (after all the ladies gave you a hard time and all but pushed you up there, but that’s just a minor detail). Next time could you try to make them look at least a little tough? :o)

    I was EXHAUSTED last night, so it was a feat just to make it to class. We worked split jerks in Elements a few weeks ago, when I got the form down pretty well since there were so few of us and we got so much individual attention! (Yes, I do expect payment for the Elements plug. But seriously, I really do love Elements, even though it makes for a long Sunday.) I stayed light at 35#, and the last set at 45# (thanks for adding that, Kenna) — in hindsight I probably could have done that for all my sets. Used 12.5# DB for the thrusters, which was plenty considering my energy level. Thrusters are just brutal.

    Nice video! I am so impressed at how solid so many people’s squats, including SBV’s, are at such high weights.

    Good luck to Sara and Reggie this weekend! I’ll be there to watch and cheer on Sara, but I’ll have to cheer on Reggie from afar.

  9. Sara says:

    Sorry I couldn’t join everyone for the split jerks. They are one of my favorite movements. I did get some in myself though. Since I competed with the best team and cheering squad ever this last weekend, I had to use yesterday to work up to my opening lifts for this saturday. I worked up to 47KG on the snatch and 63KG on clean and jerk. After that I attacked my squats. The squats felt pretty easy. 80% for me was 144lbs. I ended up using 65KG so it turned out to be 143lbs. I figured the squats were going to feel heavy because both the snatches and C&Js before hand felt super heavy (even at the lighter weights).