The Split Jerk is a basic explosive lift and is one of the most effective and efficient lifts that you can do. Don’t be intimidated by its pedigree; competitive athletes, beginners and personal trainers alike can take advantage of the benefits offered by the Split Jerk.

The Spilt Jerk is an explosive, ground-based, compound movement that can be done by practically anyone. Not just for advanced, competitive athletes, proper execution of the Split Jerk results in every muscle in the body working together in order to perform this exercise, and develops balance and stability, as well.

The video clip provides a great illustration as to how the Split Jerk can be done with either dumbbells or barbells, and how this exercise is suitable for women. My wife has included the Split Jerk in her routine for years. Being that her workout time is limited – she works and we have three young boys – she includes the Split Jerk and other explosive, ground-based, compound movements in her workouts because they are extremely effective and time-efficient.

There are some key points to keep in mind when performing this exercise.

The most important element in doing the Split Jerk is that you want to move as fast as possible when performing the Split Jerk and folks who have been training on equipment or who have never done an explosive move before might have a hard time adjusting to the speed component of this lift. Watch and listen the video clip, follow along and before using weights, try to do the Split Jerk without weights. This will get you in the grove, so to speak, and help you get used to moving with the necessary speed.

Your starting stance is very important and you want to stand in a position as if you were trying to jump straight up, as high as possible. The Split Jerk is actually a controlled jump that incorporates an abrupt, overhead press. And as I mention in the video clip, you get off of the ground and re-establish your stance with one foot moving forward and the other moving back, effectively splitting your stance.

Don’t stress about which foot goes in which direction, just do what comes naturally and as you get better at the basic movement, you can work on variations that included alternating the lead leg. Even though this movement needs to be done as fast as possible, you shouldn’t “rapid fire” it.

In other words, while each rep is performed explosively you need to take time in between each rep to reestablish the proper starting position. Treat the Split Jerk like you would swinging a bat or a golf club in that each individual swing is explosive, but make sure you re-set and are totally balanced and in the proper position before and after each repetition in each set.

While introducing this lift into your routine take the time and effort to make sure you’re using proper form. Explosive moves are done in a manner – and with a philosophy – completely at odds with techniques used to perform machine-based exercises. This kind of explosive movement is done with a different purpose, and has a very different effect on the body than does traditional exercises.

Since you aren’t working a single muscle or muscle group, you won’t feel the kind of burn associated with typical strength moves. Explosive moves are nervous system actions and therefore don’t use the same mechanisms as tradition strength movements.

Be patient when introducing the Split Jerk. Practice the move without weights.

Don’t do any more than 6 repetitions in a single set and don’t do any more than 5 or 6 sets, including the body weight “practice” sets. When you add resistance, you’ll do 2 warm up sets and then 3 work sets – sets done with the most weight that you can handle for 5 or 6 reps.

Start doing the Split Jerk and take your routine to the next level.


  1. I worked in 5 sets of split jerks with my routine this morning: Push-ups, Dumbbell deadlifts, dumbell squats, curls and pull-ups. They were a lot less intimidating than I thought they’d be. Thank you very much for this video.
    I’d love to see more of this kind of thoroughness. Seeing it from the front and side as well as with barbells and dumbbells really beats and fuzzy YouTube video from a 3/4 angle with pumping techno music behind it.
    I have a question on the split jerk as well as squats and deadlifts. I’ve been doing them with dumbbells and its hard to find any resources on the proper form for dumbbells. The ones I have tend to have pretty wide diameter plates on them so when I go down in the squat my arms need to push out to the sides to get around my legs, is this ok?
    I have a curl bar that looks similar to the link below, would it be better just to do those 3 exercises with that? Are there differences in muscles trained with dumbbells and these exercises? Thanks.

  2. ryan:
    for dumbbell squats, do front squats where you hold the dumbbells with bent arms under your chin. for dumbbell dead lifts start with the dumbbells slightly at to the outside of the feet. keep your back flat and hips above your knees and lift. you’ll use a little more hip and back with this variation, but as long as you keep your back flat throughout the range, you’ll be fine.
    next weeks video will feature these dumbbells variations.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here