Olympic Weightlifting: The Dip and Split of the Jerk

The split jerk. The simplest of the Olympic weightlifting lifts, but probably equally if not more technical than the snatch. At least for me it was. When I first started weightlifting, my split jerk was so inconsistent. My feet were all over the place, and it just felt uncomfortable.

Today is the start of a 3 part series on the split jerk. If you want to learn or improve your split jerk, be sure to follow this series! In this first part, I am going to talk about the dip and the split position.

The Dip


The jerk starts with the dip. A good dip will most likely result in a good jerk. The dip is where you load the legs to then drive it upward. To load is to bring tension into the legs so that you can use them to drive the bar upward. But it’s not just about loading, it’s about how to load properly.

Let’s talk about what this dip position should look like. When in the bottom of the dip, which is a short distance from standing, the bar should be over the center of mass of the lifter. It should look like this:

  1. Hips down and slightly back

  2. Knees slightly forward and out

  3. Slight forward incline of the torso/Neutral back (this does not mean straight or flat)

The dip should be executed with control. Control means moving only as fast as you can while maintaining a good position and keeping tension in the legs. If you can demonstrate awesome control, move as fast as you want. If you cannot demonstrate control, move slower.

Too often, I see lifters dipping too fast with no control in their jerk. When the weights get heavier or they get tired, the bar is only going to push them down. Sometimes, lifters dip too fast to the point where they are beating the bar down to the bottom of the dip, which then results in separation of the bar and lifter. This separation is not preferred, because you will not be able to keep tension in the legs, and there will be crashing of the bar on the shoulders. This is not very efficient.

So as you dip, the bar should remain in contact with your shoulders and body until the top of the drive up. A couple ways to practice this are:

  1. Jerks with a slow dip. With lighter weights, intentionally move slowly down to the dip and then fast up into the drive. The ‘slow’ is used to create awareness of what your body is doing and to build the proper movement pattern.

  2. Jerks with a pause in the dip. Just like slow dips, this will help create more awareness. It also helps with getting familiar with what the bottom of the dip should look and feel like.

The Split

The shin of the front leg should be vertical or perpendicular to the floor. It might not be perfect, but aim to have it as vertical as possible. This is to ensure even weight distribution in the split position. You should have 50% of the weight in the front leg and 50% in the back leg. If the shin is angled forward, your center of mass will be forward, making your jerk less stable because you’ll have to step forward to recover the lift. Notice how everything in this scenario is forward.

There are many ways to find where your feet should land, but it is so different for everyone, I’d recommend you to find a knowledgeable local coach to help you. The way I teach the split is to stay wide enough in the split to maintain balance, keep the front shin vertical, and keep a slight bend in both knees. As long as a lifter shows these three things, the feet can typically be anywhere in the split. The feet could be short or long, but the weight should still be evenly distributed. Your split might not be as long when you’re using just the bar and lighter weight. As the weight gets heavier, the feet will naturally move wider.

That’s it for part one. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Next week, we get into drills and cues that you can use!

You can get learn more on jerk techniques in my new book 100 Days of Technique: A Simple Guide to Olympic Weightlifting!

Happy Lifting.


- Coach Chris


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