August 20, 2012
August 24, 2012

Not that it comes as news to any of our members, but we’ve been covering a lot of Olympic lifting lately; however, when we say Olympic lifting, the fact is we’ve been covering only two-thirds of the actual lifts used in traditional Olympic lifting (the Snatch and the Clean). On Tuesday, we spent a little time reviewing and then using the last third of those lifts, the jerk.

Lunge 1/2 Ct, 10 Alt-T Push-Ups; 
Backwards Lunge 1/2 Ct, 10 Alt-T Push-Ups;
 10 Spider Lunges; 
30 seconds of wrist stretching. 

Skill Practice: 
Split Jerk 

Before getting to the strength sets for the day, class spent some time working as a group to review the split jerk. Often times when jerks come up in class – or are performed under stress – the go-to is the push jerk/power jerk. However, for the vast majority of people, the split jerk will be faster and allow you to get farther under the bar, which translates into being able to get more weight overhead. Unfortunately for that majority, the split jerk is a more complex technique than the push/power jerk, and that means more practice in order to dial in the technique.

We’ve gotten a fair amount of use out of our own Coach Mike Choi’s “Points of Review for the Jerk,” especially in an early December post last year (“AND YOU JERK IT OUT“) where we re-posted the Points of Review but added an additional point covering the dip portion of the dip-and-drive. The one thing I want to concentrate on in this blog-post however, is the position of the feet.

Sure, a proper dip followed by an explosive extension of the hips will get the weight over head, but without proper foot placement, the weight won’t be stable enough to maintain that overhead position (instability = inability). The big key for the split jerk is to remember that the feet not only move North-South, but also slightly East-West. This diagram from Coach Mike Burgener’s twitter feed is a great illustration of that point:

The feet start a little less than a full foot distance apart, which places them directly under the hips. You’ll also notice the each foot is split by a vertical line in the diagram. Upon landing in the split jerk position, the feet have moved into that lunge-like position (the North-South movement), but are also now at least a full foot distance apart from each other, placing them outside the vertical lines in the diagram (the East-West movement).

The second most important part of the split jerk is the angle of the front knee, which is largely dependent on the landing position of the front foot (surprise, surprise, it’s still about foot placement). When starting out, most of us have a tendency to push the rear foot back much farther than the front foot goes forward, leaving us with an acute angle in the front knee:

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, which is often accomplished by overarching the back.

Instead, the ideal position is to land with the knee angle at greater than 90 degrees, allowing the ball of the front foot to drive into the floor:

This will allow the lifter (here, Julia) to center themselves under the weight by pushing into the floor with both the front and back foot simultaneously. The resulting body position is not only balanced and centered without the need for overarching the back of carrying the load behind the head to keep it in the mid-line.

Lastly, although foot position is of primary importance to achieve the above two points, a good landing (foot position-wise, anyway) can be negated by landing with the back leg locked out in extension. Similar to, and often associated with, an acute angle in the front knee, the excessive push from the locked back leg will cause a lifter’s torso to lean forward:

In the photo at left, you can see MacKenzie’s rear leg locked in extension, and the resulting forward lean of her upper body, which she’s negated by excessively arching her back. In the photo at right, she’s unlocked the back knee, which has allowed her to assume a more upright torso position, with her hips under her chest, even with the slightly acute angle in her front knee.

In doing an internet search for Coach B’s foot position chart above, recalled from reading something he had written earlier on, the following chart of various jerk foot positions presented itself, which pretty well sums up most of what we just covered:

Click on the image for an enlarged view, and you’ll be able to read the captions for each lettered position, which tell you if the position is “correct” or “incorrect” and why. The full blog-post, in which the image was used, includes additional discussion of jerk foot positioning, and is entitled “Watch Those Feet – Dave Webster” via the blog THE TIGHT TAN SLACKS OF DEZSO BAN.

In order to put the above into practice, class spent roughly 30min working on weighted jerks for the day’s strength/skill portion of class.

6 x 3 Jerks 

With moderately heavy weight (Sub-maximal effort), everyone was to complete 5 to 6 rounds of 3 jerks. Weight could be taken out of the racks, or from the floor. Everyone was encouraged to work on the split jerk as comfort permitted; anyone for which the split jerk was brand new or felt that the position was detrimental could use a push/power jerk.

3 x 
12 1-Arm DB Thruster Right, 100′ Bear Crawl, 
12 1-Arm DB Thruster Left, 300′ Shuttle Run 

After everyone had time to play around the jerks, each person grabbed a single dumbbell (or kettlebell) for the met-con. Distance work was broken into 50 foot lengths equal to the width of the court. Thus, 100 foot bear crawl was out and back across the court, and the 300 foot shuttle run was out and back 3 times across the court.

It was great to have Brendan back, 
fresh from his extended trip in Afghanistan. Welcome back! 

Nice to have some more moderate temperatures this week, making things just that much more bearable inside the gym. This doesn’t mean that everyone can slack off of their hydration though – keep up the good work. Also, in case you missed it, Dr. Paul left a follow-up comment to Sunday’s blog-post:

“I just wanted to say it was nice meeting everyone. I hope you all learned something from my talk and that you can put it to use. If you would like to hear about my other favorite topic (tight external hip rotators) just let Tom know. Thanks! Dr. Paul”

See you all on Thursday.



  1. Steph says:

    Welcome back, Brendan! It was great to see you!

    Great blog write-up! So much useful information!

    I’ve always been partial to push jerks but have found that when the weight gets to moderately heavy to heavy, I always end up pressing out. Last night was probably only the 3rd time I’ve done split jerks with weight, and although I stayed light, I felt like the split jerk allowed me to get under the bar faster and really punch the weight up without pressing out the last bit. It also helps watching the DCW peeps lifting so much! I think I only ended up with 85lbs as stabilizing the core is still something I need to work on.

    This is one metcon that I wouldn’t call fun just because of my awful bear crawls. Thankfully the one-arm thrusters turned out to be easier than regular db thrusters with only 1/2 the weight.

    See you all Thursday!

  2. Julia says:

    Great to work on split jerks. One of the tougher lifts for me. I struggle with all of the faults described, but am especially prone to landing with my rear leg locked out. And apparently my split jerks, unlike my walking lunges, are not nearly violent enough.

    Metcon was rough! Close quarters forced me to pay more attention than usual to keeping the DB in close… not a bad thing, of course.

    Welcome back Brendan!

  3. Kat says:

    Glad to be back after a week and a half vacation! Thanks to Chris for sending me some travel WODs that kept me in the swing of things without regular classes. Really struggled yesterday with the split jerks as a newbie but looking forward to getting the technique down. The metcon was a lot of fun, though the one-arm thrusters were rough on my quads after a week of doing minimal squats. Loved the bear crawls and shuttle runs–it’s so fun to finish the WOD sprinting!

  4. Mark Minukas says:

    More Oly practice – sweet! I’m still discovering all kinds of disfunction to work on. Hope we get to practice even more… And did you guys see the weight SBV was lifting in his picture? Damn.

    Metcon was tough. One armed thrusters, then bear crawls? My quads were burning pretty bad. 6:45 with 45lbs.

    Tom/Chris – its been helpful for me to see the workout written on the whiteboard, btw. Hopefully I’m bugging you fewer with logistical questions during class.

  5. Katie says:

    Agreed, great write-up! Like most people, I struggled with the front leg at an acute angle/back leg locked out. I need more practice, so I’ll add this to my list of things to practice on my own. However, I did do pretty well on the “punching up” part (which I felt when “punching” myself in the chin), and 55# didn’t feel overly difficult. I also tried the wrist wraps for the first time, and they made a huge difference. I’ve been avoiding them because I want my wrists to get stronger, but I finally gave in because it’s such a limiting factor for me.

    Used a 15# DB for the metcon. This was one of those workouts I wasn’t sure I would make it through until I actually finished. It was also one I could never do on my own without everyone cheering me on — thank you! My sore quads thank everyone as well.

  6. Mark Minukas says:

    And Brendan – welcome back, bro!

  7. Tom Brose says:

    Great to see Brendan back in class!

    PLEASE take time to read and focus on Chris’ writeup. Tons of info in that post.

    Saw some big weights going up, but more impressive was the quality of the reps! More speed last night, saw people driving themselves under the bar with locked arms. Very cool.

    Mark, glad the bigger board helps. Of course we’re always happy to explain the workout, but repeating it over and over due to terrible acoustics isn’t a smart use of time. Great suggestion.

  8. SBV says:

    Thanks for the cool picture, guys! That was a triple at 205#, my previous 1 RM. Kind of hard to believe, actually. Didn’t even feel that heavy (despite Reggie’s loving, yet nagging, comment of: “Thought we weren’t supposed to go heavy!”). To be honest, I was just happy to have no pain in arms while I was performing the movement. It’s been quite a while since that’s happened.

    Tried to just keep up with Satin, Chris, and Ben on the metcon. As if keeping up with Mark, Dan, and Ethan weren’t already enough, now I’ve got to deal with these other rabbits. Plus, whenever Tom writes dumbbell thrusters and brear crawls on the board, I feel like he’s doing it on purpose to mess with me!

  9. Mackenzie says:

    Excellent class and excellent write up. I appreciate Chris taking the time to correct my form mid-lift. I could really feel the difference when I bent my back knee and straightened my back instead of arching it. I can see how this leads to heavier weight. I am really starting to seriously enjoy the olympic lifts. Thanks guys!

  10. Andraea says:

    Great post! I enjoyed working on this lift as it’s been a while. I was inconsistent with the landing of my feet. Especially on the first rep of the 3. Thanks Chris and Tom for the feedback on the lift!

    Metcon was rougher than I thought it was going to be but I thought the one arm thrusters were going to be the worst but those actually weren’t bad, it was the bear crawl that got me. Legs were burning by the end and wrists hurting.

    Welcome back Brendan!!

  11. Ben says:

    Thrusters and bear crawls….as much as I dislike those two movements, it was good to work on them Tuesday. I used a 40 lb DB and actually felt a little more comfortable with the one-armed thruster than I usually do with the regular DB thruster, not sure if that is normal or not.

    The split jerks were OK. Feel like my speed and drive under the bar was better, but the position of my feet was not consistent enough on the jerk. As always, there is room for improvement.