Olympic Weightlifting: Three Tips to Improve Your Split Jerk

Once you’ve figured out where your dip and split position should be, it’s time to actually do the split jerk. If you haven’t, check out my blog on the the dip and split position, click here.

Here are three things that I find most helpful when teaching or improving split jerks.

Slide versus Stomp

When teaching the split jerk, I tell lifters to think “slide.” Slide their feet out into the split. It’s not quite that literal, but it helps create a smoother jerk.  In my experience, sliding the feet out is much more consistent and smoother.

Many times, I see lifters lift their feet up too high in the jerk and make a loud stomp with their feet. Lifters stomp their feet because they think that by being louder, you can create more power and leg drive. What actually happens is, lifters short cut their extension and lose leg drive. A drill that I like to use is the “dip, stand, tall, go” drill. Here’s how:

  1. Start with your hands in the front rack position

  2. Stand tall and be ready to jerk

  3. Dip with a slight pause

  4. Stand with a slight pause

  5. Get tall (go onto the balls of your feet) with a slight pause

  6. Then press up fast and split your feet at the same time

  7. Recover

When performing this, make sure to move through the positions in a controlled manner until you get to the last step. The last step will be a much more quicker movement to the split. Watch the video to get a better idea. I like this drill because it teaches lifters the proper rhythm when done correctly. Since the lifter has to split from a tall position, they have no choice but to just slide the feet out to their split.


Use Your Legs!

Often times, I see lifters focus on getting under the bar as fast as possible in the split. But before you go under, you have to drive the bar up, right? So the focus should be maintaining a strong torso position and then using your legs to drive the bar up as high as possible. I am not saying that speed under the bar is not important, but what comes first? The drive upward. If you use your legs and drive the bar up well, everything else should work itself out.


Fast hands

Fast hands is a cue I use all the time when my lifters jerk. When performing jerks, the goal should be to lock out the elbows and secure the overhead position as soon as possible. The cue, “fast hands,” can be a cue to reinforce a fast lock out.

In my early days of weightlifting, I put a lot of focus on my feet and my split. As soon as I shifted the focus to my hands and how fast they were moving, my split became more natural. Let’s look at sprinting. A faster arm swing can help with running faster. The same can be applied with weightlifting.

So next time you do split jerks, slide, use your legs, and move your hands as fast as possible.

You can get more on split jerks by purchasing my new book 100 Days of Technique: A Simple Guide to Olympic Weightlifting!

Happy Lifting.


- Coach Chris


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