Stop Being a Jerk: Time to Learn How to Split

October 21, 2018

Photocredit: Dimitri Klokov 

Everyone loves to Clean. Many of us Clean like champs. If you asked 4 out of 5 people to pick between the Snatch and the Clean, our bet is they would choose the Clean. Even though most might choose the Clean, there’s the whole Split Jerk portion of the lift many of us forget about.

For a large portion of the population, when it comes to finishing the Clean with the Split Jerk, Pandora’s Box opens and all hell breaks loose. Why??

It could be one of many reasons, including; Split? what’s that?, we don’t train it enough, it’s uncomfortable, it feels weird, I’m not strong enough, my timing is off, my shoulders hurt, I press under the bar, huh?...etc, etc. The list could go on and on. If you happen to be one of these athletes, great news for you!

So how can you fall in love with the Split Jerk?

One way to address our concerns and opportunities for improvement is to simply perform the movement and associated drills more often. Now to get progressively better in the lift we add on layers of technique, proper position, balance, coordination, timing, speed, and strength. Sounds like a mouth full but don’t stress - one foot in front of the other, one at a time.

Below are four drills and exercises that will have you asking for Split Jerks in the workout in no time. The beautiful part of it is once you start getting better at it, you earn the right to lift more weight, and the harder it gets :)

  • PREREQUISITES

  • Mobility, mobility, mobility. As it pertains to the Split Jerk poor wrist, overhead, and hip flexor mobility will place you in a compromised finish position and limit your performance. Trying to force a square peg into a rod whole will not do you any good.  Here are a few tools to get you started:

    Overhead Mobility Screen:

    Pec Minor Stretch: 

    Banded Lat:

    Hip Flexor:

      Once you have the mobility in place to perform the lift, make sure you have a rock-solid core to support the load overhead:

      Dead Bug:

      Bird Dog Row:

        START WITH FOOTWORK AND BALANCE (JERK BALANCE) 

        Basic footwork drills and the jerk balance are two fantastic tools to learn how to move your feet out and back, where you should be landing in the split and how to recover from it to compete for the lift.

      • GAINING STRENGTH & STABILITY 

      • The pressing variations we are all familiar with e.g strict press, are commonly performed from a fully extended standing position. What if we told you we can take those and perform them from the split (see point 2) Both the front rack and behind the neck variations are great for developing strength and stability for the Split.

      • COORDINATION & RECOVERY 

      • Time for a little accessory work. As we just did with the press variations, the overhead lunge is a great way to apply the traditional lunge more specifically to the Split Jerk. Performed with the barbell, kettlebells, or dumbbells they can feel brutal and will expose any mobility restrictions and imbalances you might have.

        There you have it, folks. Mobility work plus four awesome drills to improve your confidence and performance for the Split Jerk. Try these out and let us know what you think in the comments below. Happy lifting!!!

        Pawel Wencel is the head Olympic Weightlifting coach of at Black Flag Barbell, Assistant Coach and Media Director at Black Flag Athletics, and co-host of Black Flag Radio. Pawel possesses over 15 years of experience in strength training through the exploration and adaptation of various training methods, including Olympic Weightlifting, CrossFit, Strongman, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding. He holds the following certifications: USAW Level 1 Sports Performance Coach, USAW Program Design, Catalyst Athletics Level 1, CrossFit Level 1, CrossFit Scaling, and FMS Level 1. He is keen on athletes, members and clients utilizing their strength and movement practice to get outside, travel, hike, and find adventure outside the confines of the gym. His claim to fame is his great set of legs :) For more of Black Flag Radio catch the podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play
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