3 Things Keeping You From PRing Your Split Jerk

April 28, 2017

3 Things Keeping You From PRing Your Split Jerk
Written by Jaimie Bougie

Nothing can be more frustrating than hitting a beautiful clean and then, missing the Jerk.

Or, for you fellas, seeing some of the more elite females in your gym hitting Jerk PRs that are not far from your own max.

At first glance, you may see someone miss a Jerk and immediately think that they are just lacking in upper body strength. In reality, it may be a few things you haven’t thought about. So check it out!

Tip #1 - Getting the Bar Over Your Head: Mobility Work

This may seem like a no-brainer but if you can’t hold your empty arms above your head in a “The Field Goal is Good Ref Sign”, then you’re obviously not going to be able to throw up a bunch of kilos into that position. You may think you’re flexible, but you may not be as flexible as you think.

Upper body flexibility for both the Snatch and Jerk are not just about your shoulders; your thoracic spine needs to be on point as well.

Keira Newton over at Breaking Muscle wrote a great blog on 3 Mobility Drills for Solid Overhead Lifts - give these a try if you suspect that this is your area of weakness with the Jerk.

Tip #2 - Starting from The Bottom: Fancy Footwork

If you’re a fan of Coach Burgener’s (which, I am), you’ll often hear him say that people miss a lot of lifts because of their feet. This applies to all aspects of Olympic lifting, including the Jerk.

If you have no trouble popping that barbell up and over your head but you instantly become a baby giraffe and miss the lift because your legs do something funky, then keep reading.

The next time you are warming up with the barbell, check out your landing position; with your front leg, is your knee and heel stacked with the weight on your heel? And on the back leg, is your hip and knee stacked or knee slightly behind the hip with the weight on the ball of your foot and heel off the ground?

Greg Everett over at Catalyst Athletics wrote a fantastic blog relating to the difference aspects of “Improving Your Footwork in the Split Jerk”. Check it out for tips and drills.

Tip #3 -  What’s Between Your Ears: Head Work

So your mobility is great and your footwork is on point…but the minute you are anywhere close to your 1-RM, you start to breakdown. Maybe you hit a solid beautiful Jerk at 90-95% of your max but then you put on a whooping 5kg (and I say whooping sarcastically) and bam! Total no rep failsville.

Then obviously the problem is between your ears. :)

The next time you are about to lift some heavy kilos over your head, take a minute before the lift to visualize - with your eyes closed - the lift itself. Think about yourself walking up to the bar, and making the most beautiful clean of your life (or taking the bar in a perfect rack position from the rack or jerk boxes). Think about how the weight feels on shoulders and tell yourself that it’s not heavy. Then think about that perfect dip, then the perfect drive and then the perfect punch of that weight over your head. Then, think about recovering your front foot back first, then your back foot. Bam! Successful lift.

And don’t just “think” about it - I want you to feel it, to breathe it in, to smell it - to live it. And then believe it.

Because really, if everything else about your lift is great and you are failing because “it’s heavy”, then ultimately you need to work on believing that you can make the lift. If you don’t believe you can, then you won’t.

Believe. Achieve. :)  

Happy Lifting.

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