The split jerk is the second version of the jerk, it is an advanced movement which you need to master as a functional fitness/crossfit athlete that requires the use of many muscle groups and coordinated skills. As a compound power movement, the split jerk uses a large array of muscles from ground up.

Split jerks work alongside cleans and have become a staple in CrossFit and functional fitness gyms as well as becoming more popular across all around athletes.

It is common for split jerks to be used when weights get heavier and close to maximal.


The split jerk consists of five phases, they are the set up, Dip, Drive, Catch and Recover, these phases are very similar to the power jerk but the catch and recover differ slightly.

Phase 1 - Set Up

With any Olympic lift is it paramount to have a strong solid set up to use as a base for your lift.

With the Jerk it can be performed from a rack, blocks or from receiving a clean. In this article we are going to assume you will be working from the rack and doing the jerk as a standalone movement but it will translate across to all the other variations.

To start with, unrack the bar from your rack/rig and take 2 or 3 steps forward, stand tall with your feet at hip width and set the barbell firmly on the front of your shoulders and maintain a tight core. 

Phase 2 - Dip

Bend your knees slightly keeping your torso upright, at the base of the dip keep your core tight and your elbows high.

Phase 3 - Drive

Once you are stable at the bottom of the dip (this will become an instantaneous step after some practice), drive hard directly upwards with your legs, fully extend your quads then calves to reach maximal lower body extension, you should follow this with a slight drive and pop from your shoulders. While extending, concentrate on keeing a strong core and maintaining high elbows.

Phase 4 - Catch

Once you have reached full extension in phase 3 you drop back under the bar and prepare to catch. After the rapid extension of phase 3 you push with your shoulders while dropping your body into the catch position. The catch position should be legs split, front knee at 90 degrees, rear knee at around 45 degrees and at shoulder width and arms loced above the center of balance.

Phase 5 - Recovery

The final stage of the Jerk is the recovery, after a solid catch you should bring your legs together, bringing your front leg back first then your rear leg ensuring control of the barbell. After this the lift is complete and you can return the bar to the rack or the floor.


Common Mistakes

Here are the most common errors made with the power jerk, as well as how to avoid them.

Losing integrity in the dip 

As you dip to start the movement it is very easy to lose tension in your core and bend forward slightly, especially at the bottom of the dip/early drive phase.

When this happens it often both removes the rigidity and strength of the body and also has a tendency to force the drive phase into an upward and forward motion rather than a straight up motion.

The main thing to try if you struggle with this would be to keep the chest and elbows up, this should hel keep a tight torso.

Very wide or long/short catching stance

The catching stance is very important as it forms the foundations of your stability with the bar overhead. In an effort to get lower quickly, many people just go wider and wider with their feet, in addition there is a tendency to go short with a split jerk, in doing this you make it harder to drop under the bar as far and you make the catch position weaker. Your catch position should be strong long and stable.

The best way to address this would be to either video yourself and actively aim to make small changes to improve your position or to make marks on the floor for your feet and aim to land on your marks each time.

Low elbows in the setup

It is common for people to start with their elbows pointing towards the floor, similar to a strict press position, this is good for raw strict strength but not so good for speed and stability like you need for the jerk.
In the jerk you generate the power from your drive (legs) mainly and then snap under the bar for the catch, if you have your elbows low it is much harder to securely hold the weight on your shoulders with a straight torso and also makes a slower transition from drive to catch.

To correct this you should just be aware of your elbow and chest position and pause at the bottom of the dip to check your positioning.

A good little workout to try for this would be

EMOM 10 (every minute on the minute)

2 Split Jerk

Either pick a weight that you aim to do for all the sets or build up in weight as you go.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!


EMOM 10 (every minute on the minute)

2 Split Jerk

Either pick a weight that you aim to do for all the sets or build up in weight as you go.