I have come to my own conclusion that the split jerk is the most difficult Olympic lift for most people. Out of the snatch, clean, and jerk I have seen that the split jerk is something that newer lifters have such a difficult time with. I think it is because they actually have to split and move their feet forward and back, where as most of the times in Weightlifting the feet don’t move forward and much at all. So, I believe most lifters have a hard time transitioning from moving vertically in the dip and drive to splitting their feet forward and back. Keeping proper balance through this transition can be very difficult and is why I think many beginner to intermediate lifters have a difficult time with the split jerk.
So, in lieu of this I highlighted three ways I think you can use to instantly improve your split jerk, or at least make it easier and less complicated on yourself.
1.) KEEP IT SIMPLE
I wrote this in all caps because I think many people over complicate the split jerk. When teaching the split jerk to new lifters most of the time they take in what I am saying, and then spit something back out to me that is three times more confusing. “NO, THAT IS NOT WHAT I AM SAYING.” Many coaches have probably been here before, and I always take responsibility for not making things easier for the lifter to digest.
However, the split jerk needs to be made very simple for new lifters and even intermediate lifters as well. I remember reading a Travis Mash article on the split jerk a while ago, and he made it very simple. He said to think of the lift as a “down, up, down” movement. I couldn’t agree more when trying to simplify the lift. Many lifters tend to worry too much about where their feet are going and if they are perfectly placed. I always say, “if you just think about dropping your hips straight down after the drive, the feet will take care of themselves.” One way to ensure a missed split jerk is to be off balance. I believe this lift, even more than the others, is all about balance. Get your balanced thrown off just a little bit and it will result in a much too difficult split jerk. Thinking of the movement as just down, up, down is a very simple way to help cue yourself to stay balanced and vertical through the movement. If you can start to drive home this principle then you are on the right track to having yourself a better split jerk.
2.) Shoulders Up
Another reason why I see many split jerks go missed or completed very inefficiently is because of the shoulders throughout the lift. Look at almost any beginner lifter and you will see the shoulders immediately drop on the dip and drive. This will almost always cause the bar to travel forward when you attempt to launch. When the shoulders drop the bar immediately moves away from the body’s center of gravity and causes the lifter to have to move forward to “chase” the bar in the catch. This doesn’t just go for beginner lifters but intermediate lifters as well. Many misses forward can be a result of getting too anxious in the drive and letting the shoulders drop. A cue I like really well to fix this is simply “shoulders up.” The reason I think many people let their shoulders drop is because they simply don’t even realize they are doing it. Making sure to keep the shoulders up and stable in the drive will ensure a nice vertical bar path. Start by even over exaggerating keeping the shoulders up. I think you will be surprised with how much more efficient you made the lift for yourself. You might even have a sudden moment of astonishment when you catch the bar in a position you’ve never felt before.
3.) Chin Out Of The Way
This tip sort of piggy backs off of the last one, but getting the chin out of the way on the jerk is something many people have a hard time with. A lot of lifters will drive the bar slightly forward off of their shoulders in order to keep the bar out of the way of the chin. This is not ideal and should be done just the opposite. You don’t want to get the bar out of the way of your chin, but your chin out of the way of the bar. People have a fear of hitting their chin with the bar on the jerk (especially if they have hit their chin already), and therefore drive the bar forward in attempt to not hit their chin. The solution to this is to simply drive the bar straight off of the shoulders (even think slightly back) and get the chin back and out of the way of the bar. This will keep the path of the bar straight and will most of all help efficiency getting under the bar. We all know it is harder to get under a bar that is moving forward and much easier if we keep the bar in a vertical path. Getting the chin out of the way is a simple cue to drive the bar vertical off of the shoulders and make it easier to finish the lift under the bar. This, along with everything else mentioned in the article will help the lifter stay balanced and move the bar in as much vertical trajectory as possible, which should be the main goal in Weightlifting.
These three tips are by no means a cure all to your split jerk. Weightlifting movements are very complex and take years and years to master. I believe these three tips to be very useful in cleaning up some general technique issues and get you on a quicker path to mastery.
I will leave you with a few split jerk videos…
When learning the split jerk many people probably realize a lot of problems occur with the back leg/foot. It remains too straight, the back knee isn't soft, back heel isn't lifted up, there isn't enough pressure through the back foot, etc. The jerk balance shown here is a great drill to practice keeping proper weight distribution through the back foot and back leg mechanics in general. Also, the back leg of the split jerk should be the strongest of your two legs. That is the leg that has to be used as an anchor for the front leg to pivot off of. Here, Emily is working on splitting with her strong leg on the back, which is something she isn't used to. #weightlifting #weightlifter #olympiclifting #olympicweightlifting #olylifting #snatch #clean #jerk #splitjerk #balance #distribution #jerkbalance #technique #techniquetuesday #drill #forcebarbell #strengthsquad #crossfit #athletes #livelightliftheavy #alwaysseekimprovement #unlockyourpotential
@indyandria technique is starting to come along nicely and her jerk has improved dramatically this week. Here she is hitting the last two reps of a set of four. #weightlifting #olympicweightlifting #olympiclifting #olylifting #snatch #clean #jerk #technique #efficiency #strengthsquad #forcebarbell #fishers #indy #livelightliftheavy #alwaysseekimprovement #unlockyourpotential
Here is a little jerk drill to learn proper balance in the split jerk. Start with the center of the feet over a line, which will represent center of mass. We want to see the athlete jump just an inch off of the ground to simulate vertical force application, and then landing on the toes. This resembles what it would actually feel like when launching a barbell. We don't want to see just a calf raise to the toes because that would mean center of mass moving forward which is not what we want with a barbell. We want the jump an inch off the ground to prevent that. Once on the toes we want the athlete to drive their HIPS down and let their feet fall or slide into their split. Many athletes over think where their feet should go rather than driving their hips down vertically, and usually that results in proper foot position and balance. If hips are still over the line that would mean a properly balance split jerk. Emily's feet slightly shift back, but this would most likely be eliminated with a barbell in her hands. #weightlifting #olympicweightlifting #olympiclifting #olylifting #snatch #clean #jerk #performance #eliteperformance #performancetraining #forcebarbell #livelightliftheavy #alwaysseekimprovement #unlockyourpotential #fishers #indy