It’s easy to be seduced by the simplicity of the power or push jerk, or the glamor of the squat jerk, and to be frustrated or overwhelmed by the dancing feet of the split jerk and give up on it.
So let me explain the benefits and drawbacks of each so you can make a wise choice… which is extremely likely to be the split jerk.
The best part of the power or push jerk is its simplicity—the fewest moving parts and the smallest amount of body motion.
The drawbacks are that it requires the most bar elevation—more than most people can manage at their heaviest jerks—and has a limited margin for error overhead.
This is a good choice if you’re able to drive the bar much higher and more easily than the typical lifter and simply never have the need to get lower.
- Easiest recovery
- Need for more bar elevation
- Limited margin for error
There is exactly one benefit of the squat jerk, which is that it requires the least bar elevation… and the good news stops there.
The drawbacks are that it demands the most mobility from the entire body, involves the most difficult recovery, and has an extremely small margin of error—and each of these is a complete dealbreaker on its own.
This is only a good choice if you happen to be a person with no mobility limitations, who is consistently very precise, and who has very strong legs to recover from a pause jerk-grip overhead squat after a maximal effort clean… but also can’t drive the bar up in the jerk to save your life.
- Minimal need for bar elevation
- Extreme mobility demand
- Least margin for error
- Most difficult recovery
The split jerk is the most common variation for very simple reasons: a long list of benefits, and only one minor drawback that’s easy to overcome.
The split position with its broad base in every direction is the most stable, which means fewer problems to begin with, but also a huge margin of error—a lifter can make multiple large adjustments to account for all kinds of mistakes and still be successful.
It also allows you to get into a deeper receiving position than a power jerk, while still allowing a strong, easy recovery. Because of that, it has only moderate demands on bar elevation.
And it has the least demand on mobility—you can be successful in split jerks with medically disgusting overhead mobility.
The one and only drawback is the fancy footwork—but this is an extremely small obstacle that anyone can overcome with proper instruction and some effort.
- Maximal stability
- Balance of depth and moderate bar elevation
- Moderately easy recovery