Transitioning from Clean to Split Jerk

CLEAN AND JERK / verb: jumping a barbell from a stationary position on the floor and receiving it in a supported, active position, first in the front rack and secondarily the overhead position.

If you can jump, you can clean and jerk! In the words of Coach Mike Burgener: “We need to learn to JUMP the barbell through a range of motion creating acceleration and elevation on the barbell; while that barbell is moving up, I am moving down and under the barbell.”


Clean and Jerk fundamentals are fairly similar to the Snatch, which we talked about last month. Today, let’s focus on the transition from the Squat Clean to the Split Jerk.

  • Elbows are down and out, and in front of the barbell.
  • Full, relaxed grip on the bar. The hook grip is released while performing overhead movements.
  • The bar is resting on the shoulders and supported by the body.


Split Jerk: The Basics

JERK: a dip + drive + punch into an active, overhead receiving position. The split jerk facilitates athletes in moving greater weights more efficiently and provides a greater base of support in the receiving position.

First, the DIP: shoulders remain stacked over hips with knees corkscrewed over feet. The dip is short, straight down and smooth.

Second, the DRIVE: generate bar speed by using the lower body to jump the bar straight overhead, creating weightlessness.

Finally, the PUNCH: punch your body under the bar and into the split position, receiving the barbell on locked out arms directly overhead.

  1. Weight is on the heel of the lead leg.
  2. Front knee is stacked over the ankle or slightly back.
  3. Upright torso – bar is stacked over the shoulders, hips and back knee.
  4. Back leg is bent, back knee is pointing down, back glute is tight.
  5. Weight is on the ball of the back foot, with the heel off the ground.

Marking Your Feet for a Split Jerk

  1. To start, determine your lead leg: Lunge forward and place back knee on the ground; forward leg is likely the dominant/ lead leg.
  2. Then, mark your toes with chalk: With your feet in the jumping position, draw lines across the top of the toes and the back of the heels. Next, move your feet out to the landing/receiving/squatting position and mark the toe box with chalk.
  3. Now, mark the lead leg: Move your lead leg forward from the landing position to where that heel is aligned with the forward (toe) line, and mark halfway through the lead foot and draw a U above that line. In the split, the lead foot heel should land in that U.
  4. Lastly, mark the rear leg: Move your rear leg from landing position back until the toe is aligned with the back (heel) line. Mark heel of rear foot with an inverted U. In the split, the rear foot toes should land in the U.



Jerk Skill Transfer Exercises

  1. Push press behind the neck x 3 reps
  2. Push jerk behind the neck x 3 reps
  3. Split jerk behind the neck x 3 reps
  4. Push press x 3 reps
  5. Push jerk x 3 reps
  6. Split jerk x 3 reps


If you’re interested in building your Olympic lifting skills, Coach Tori offers personal training where she’ll work with you one-on-one to improve whatever your weightlifting hangups may be! Interested? Call us at 210-708-7472.