There comes a time when some athletes will question whether they should do the split jerk or the power jerk when it comes to the competition lifts. Both of these movements are variations of the jerk. But what’s the difference?
The main difference between the split jerk and power jerk is the catch position. The split jerk finishes with the feet staggered in a split position. In contrast, the power jerk finishes in a mini squat position with the feet adjacent to each other.
I would always suggest doing the split jerk as your main variation of the jerk when it comes to the competition lifts where you put the clean and jerk together. Of course, you will get some athletes performing the power jerk. I believe you should start with the split jerk when learning the Olympic lifts. But why?
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Split Jerk vs. Power Jerk Main Differences
When it comes to the catch position, this is where you will see the most significant difference between the split jerk and the power jerk. Although with both of these lifts, you will start the same. Feet just wider than shoulder width, the bar in the front rack position and the dip and drive will be the same for both these movements.
Regarding the catch position, with the split jerk, you will land with one foot forward and the other backward to be in a split position where the balance is 50/50 spread over both legs.
With the power jerk, you will jump slightly out with your feet laterally and land in a power position higher than a 90-degree angle between the hamstring and calf.
You can generally lift a lot more with the split jerk than you can with the power jerk. Typically, there is a 15-20kg difference between what you can power jerk vs. your split jerk. But always remember, you get athletes who will be able to do better in the power jerk which is rare but you do get them.
What makes the most significant difference when it comes to the split jerk vs. the power jerk is, firstly, the room for error is very small with the power jerk. One minor fault could lead you to miss the lift.
Whereas with the split jerk, the room for error is much bigger, and you can adjust their bodies or split deeper if the weight throws them off a bit. There is room for error with both; you have to decide which one is smaller and if you want to take that chance.
Mobility also plays a big part in the split and power jerk. You could be not as mobile and still be able to split jerk but if you aren't mobile enough, there is no way you will be able to successfully power jerk a heavy weight.
How To Split Jerk
The split jerk can either be performed from the rack or blocks or after a clean. No matter which one you do it from, the bar will always be in the front rack position.
How To Power Jerk
Like the split jerk, the power jerk can either be performed from the rack, blocks, or after a clean. No matter which one you do it from, the bar will always be in the front rack position.
Is The Split Jerk Better Than The Power Jerk?
In my experience, the split jerk is not better than the power jerk. Both of these lifts have a time and place in your program. It all depends on the athlete and their strengths.
I would always recommend doing the split jerk in competition unless, for some reason, you are much stronger in a power jerk, which rarely happens unless you are CJ Cummings or Lu Xiaojun. For these athletes, the power jerk or the squat jerk just works for them.
But, if you look at the percentage of athletes competing at a top level, these are 1% of the athletes who will perform these lifts.
The split jerk has much more room for error and is also easier to learn and master than the power jerk. Although the power jerk is a great assistance exercise when teaching beginner athletes how to split jerk and intermediate and advanced level athletes to do it on their power days.
Always weigh up your options and make sure whichever you choose as your competition lift will take hours and hours of practice to perfect.
The power jerk and the split jerk have a time and place in your program. However, I will always recommend doing the split jerk and using it as your main lift when it comes to your competition lifts.
You can always change later if you feel like the power jerk will be a better fit; remember, there is a smaller room for error, and you have to be much more mobile to have a solid power jerk.