Jerk (Split Jerk)
AKA Split jerk
The jerk is the second part of the second of the two lifts (the snatch and the clean & jerk) contested in the sport of weightlifting (AKA Olympic weightlifting). The athlete lifts the barbell from the shoulders to overhead after having cleaned it from the floor to the shoulders.
Secure the bar in the jerk rack position with the feet at approximately hip-width and the toes turned out slightly. Keep the weight balanced on the heels while maintaining full foot contact with the floor. Bend slightly at the knees only, keeping the trunk vertical and the weight on the heels. Transition immediately at the bottom of this dip and drive aggressively with the legs against the floor to accelerate the barbell upward. As you finish the extension of the legs, begin pushing against the bar with the arms, quickly lifting the feet and transitioning them into the split position, punching the arms into a locked-out overhead position. Secure and stabilize the bar overhead before recovering from the split into a standing position with the bar still overhead.
Because the split jerk is the overwhelmingly dominant competitive jerk style, the term jerk implies split jerk except for athletes who use a different style as their primary jerk.
The primary purpose of the jerk is as part of one of the two competitive lifts in the sport of weightlifting. As a training exercise, it serves weightlifters as a way to train for the lift in competition by training technique, strength, speed and all of the other qualities needed for the lift. For other athletes, it can be used to develop power, speed, precision, mobility and overhead strength.
Sets of 1-3 reps are suggested with weights anywhere from 70% to the lifter’s maximum jerk. Generally this exercise should be performed following any snatch variants and possibly before clean variants depending on what the intended emphasis of the workout is.
For in-depth program design for weightlifting, see our free daily programming, or the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Weightlifting Programming: A Winning Coach’s Guide.