Press In Split: Technique Guide

April 24, 2022

The press in the split stance is a great exercise to do when you teach the athlete where their body should be in the split jerk by breaking the movement down in steps. The athlete will move their feet into the position they will be in for the split jerk and do a strict press.

The athlete can then feel where their body position should be in the split. They will automatically feel that if their weight is too far forward, the bar will travel forward in the press and vice versa if the athlete is too far back in the split.

The press in the split stance is a great accessory movement to do in weightlifting to build upper body strength and teach the athlete positions in the split jerk by breaking down the movement into phases. It’s just a different press variation, which you will now do in a split stance.

What Is The Press In Split?

The press in the split is a weightlifting-specific exercise that you will do to help improve your shoulder strength and train the position of how the arms should move in the split. It’s a strict press movement in the split stance that you will use when you are in the split stance, the same as your split jerk.

Press In Split Muscles Worked?

The muscles worked in the press in split include the quads, hamstrings, and glutes to maintain a solid position together with the core muscles. When performing the press in the split, they will add to those muscles by working the shoulder muscles.

Benefits Of The Press In Split

Builds Upper-Body Strength

The press in the split is an excellent variation from your general strict press to build upper body strength in the press portion of the movement.

Builds Awareness

The press in the split builds awareness of how the body should be positioned in the split jerk. Being aware of your body position in the split will help you feel when your balance is off. With the press in the split, you have to hold the split position for numerous seconds while performing multiple presses.

Build Strength In The Split

With the press in the split, you have to essentially hold an isometric split position for numerous seconds while performing the press. By doing this, you will be able to increase strength in the split position.

Increases Shoulder And Hip Mobility

If you are battling mobility in the hip flexors, the split is a great way to train the ranges of motion while holding the split position for x amount of time. You don’t need to go into a deep lunge because this will not benefit your split jerk; however, just holding the split where you would be in the position in the split jerk can help with hip flexor mobility.

Like shoulder mobility, you can practice your mobility overhead in the press with a bar until you are flexible enough to add some weight or perform the split jerk with ease.

How To Press In Split

Starting Position

Press In Split Start Position

The bar will start in the front rack position with the elbows facing slightly down, just wider than the shoulders (depending on your mobility and arm length). You will then move into a split stance (the exact split position you would do a split jerk).

Make sure the body is balanced equally between the front and back feet. The back leg is slightly bent, and the front foot’s shin has a vertical angle to ensure your momentum isn’t drifting forward.

Press & Finish Position

Press In Split Muscles Worked

Once you have moved into the split stance, you will keep the core tight and press the barbell overhead, ensuring you are balanced. The back leg will have a slight bend, and the front foot’s shin will be as vertical as possible to ensure you are in a solid position for the press overhead.

While pressing overhead, make sure to slightly pull the head out of the way and press the bar behind the neck as you would in a traditional split jerk. Make sure to lock out the elbows.

Once you have locked out the elbows, you will bring the bar back to the starting front rack position in the split and continue the movement depending on how many repetitions you are doing.

How Heavy Should You Press In Split?

The press in the split will be performed with a similar weight to your strict press, which could be roughly around 30-40% of your 1RM split jerk, depending on how strong your overhead movement is—performing around 3-5 Sets of 3-5 repetitions to build strength.

The press in the split stance can also be used as part of your barbell warm-up or primer before doing heavier split jerks. When you use it as a primer, I would generally recommend going less than what you would be doing if you had to do this as a post-lifting strength-building exercise.


The press in the split is a great variation to do from your traditional strict press but can also be used as a primer to warm up your split jerks. You cannot go too heavy in the exercise, but it has great benefits when done correctly.

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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