Jerk Balance: Technique & Benefits

May 31, 2022

The jerk balance is an assistant exercise for the split jerk. It is done by helping you drive the front foot out into the split position and keeping an equal balance between the front and the back foot.

You will perform the jerk balance with an empty barbell or a very light weight to work on the jerk technique and focus on the balance between the front and the back foot in the split. You will then drive the bar up and back in the overhead position.

How To Jerk Balance

Starting Position

The best way to start is with the bar in the front rack position to perform the jerk balance. You will then go into a full split stance like you would in your regular split jerk with the bar in the front rack position.

You then shift the front foot back slightly to be in a mini-split stance; make sure that you still have an equal balance between the front and the back foot when you are in the mini-split stance. The back foot will stay connected to the ground at all times with the jerk balance exercise.

Jerk & Catch Position

With the jerk dip and catch, you will dip straight down in the mini-split stance and shoot the front foot out while maintaining the balance between the front and the back foot. Continue driving the bar overhead while pushing yourself under the bar locking the arms overhead. Make sure to keep the trunk upright to maintain balance and strength.

Why Use The Jerk Balance?

Short Stepping In The Split Jerk

If the athlete tends to not shoot the front foot out far enough in the split jerk, you could either miss the split jerk or be off-balance. The jerk balance reinforces getting the front foot out and finding a vertical shin position since you start from a partial split position.

As A Technique Primer

The jerk balance is also a great primer to use as a warm-up to drill specific to the split jerk. The goal is to carry over the technical cues from the jerk balance to the split jerk, reinforcing good technique.

Chest Shooting Forward In The Split Jerk

Suppose you are an athlete who does not keep the chest up while performing the split jerk and shoots the trunk forward in a position where you look like you are leaning forward. In that case, the jerk balance is a great technical drill to focus on keeping the chest upright while performing the movement. 

Focusing On Speed Under The Bar

The jerk balance is also a great way to practice speed under the bar when driving the bar up from the front rack position to the overhead position. As it is a partial movement, you must find the catch position quicker.

When To Use The Jerk Balance?

Depending on your goal, you can perform the jerk balance at the beginning or end of your training. When the jerk balance is performed at the beginning of your workout, it is used as a primer before doing clean and jerks or split jerks.

Performing the jerk balance at the end of your workout is an accessory exercise to work on technical areas like speed under the bar, keeping an upright trunk, and getting the foot out in front.

How To Program The Jerk Balance?

When programming the jerk balance, you will often go very light or even work with a barbell to drill the technique. The weight you choose should make the exercise easy while focusing on the technical side of things.

Generally, I would recommend working with either the bar or up to about 40-60% of your one-rep max split jerk. But this depends on the athlete’s abilities to perform the movement. In training, I recommend 3 to 5 sets of 2 to 4 repetitions of the jerk balance.

I would generally not program the jerk balance in a beginner-level program because it is a very technical movement and can confuse the athlete. Therefore, I would instead program jerk balance in an intermediate or advanced level weightlifter’s program.

Jerk Balance Variations

You can also perform the jerk balance behind the neck. The same principles will apply to the jerk balance behind the neck as the standard front rack jerk balance. The jerk balance could be a helpful exercise if you tend to drive the bar forward in split jerk or even battle with mobility.


The jerk balance is a technical skill to help you fix or better your split jerk. You will be working with a light load and focusing on the technical aspects of the movement. Especially making sure that there is a good balance between the front and the back foot in the split and the trunk is upright in the jerk position. 

I would generally not recommend this movement to a complete beginner Weightlifter. Still, for an athlete who has been doing weightlifting for a while, the jerk balance may be your ticket to new split jerk PBs.

About the Author

Mona is a Bronze Medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She has been competing Internationally for 20 years in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting and has also been African Champion, Commonwealth Champion, and the youngest South African Weightlifter to compete on the International stage.

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