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Ask Greg: Bouncing out of the Split Jerk
Greg Everett

Steph Asks: I have a split jerk of 102.5kg at 64kg body weight and overhead strength has always been a strength, recently someone pointed out that I rush out the catch on my split jerk and suggested I stick the landing for 2-3 seconds. I gave it a go and regardless of how hard I try I can't seem to stick the landing I always seem to bounce straight out into the finish position. Is this a problem is it holding me back from getting heavier overhead?

Greg Says: In theory, there is nothing wrong with rebounding immediately from the split in a jerk, IF the jerk is successful. The problem is that when the jerk is unsuccessful, there’s a decent chance it could have been made with some more patience in the receiving position, or that the underlying problem is being masked by the rush out of the split.

As an example, it’s very common for lifters to be too heavy on the front foot in the split jerk due to issues like dipping or driving forward, pushing the bar forward with the arms, or over-reaching the back leg in the split. Up to a point, the lifter can save the lift despite this problem by quickly recovering from the split and adjusting the bar and body position to re-establish balance and stability. Eventually, though, the weight on the bar will be too great for this to work and you’ll begin seeing failed lifts.

If the underlying problem is neglected and allowed to become or remain a habit, this threshold of lift failure will become quite solid and act as a serious limiter to performance. It’s important, therefore, to diagnose and correct the problem as soon as possible to avoid this; the longer it goes unchecked, the more difficult it will be to correct.

The way you describe the issue, however, it’s hard to know if this is really an issue of an improper receiving position or a lack of balance; it may not be. You may be one of those very naturally springy athletes who has difficulty holding any position following an eccentric loading of the muscles. Or, of course, you could just have a habit that isn’t going to change easily or quickly.

I would suggest continuing to try to hold the split position for 2-3 seconds on all of your warm-up jerks, and when you reach a weight when it seems impossible, let yourself recover immediately as you seem to do naturally. This way you’re still getting some training to improve your stability and awareness in the split position, which should carry over to the heavier jerks in time, and will have the opportunity to recognize and diagnose any problems that do exist, but you also will not be unnecessarily limiting your top end by forcing something so unnatural on your heaviest jerks.

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Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, head coach of the USA Weightlifting National Champion team Catalyst Athletics, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting, co-host of the Weightlifting Life Podcast, publisher of The Performance Menu journal, fifth-place finisher at the USAW National Championships, masters national champion, masters American Open champion, masters American record holder in the clean & jerk, and Olympic Trials coach. Follow him on Facebook here and and sign up for his free newsletter here.

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