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Mastering the Split Jerk: Perfecting Your Lead Leg and Split Position

When it comes to the split jerk, one of the most important aspects to master is determining and perfecting your lead leg and split position. This step is foundational and can significantly impact your performance and safety during the lift. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand and refine this essential part of the split jerk.

Finding Your Lead Leg

Most people instinctively know which leg to lead with during the split jerk. However, if you're uncertain, there's a simple method to identify your preferred lead leg: perform walking lunges. Typically, you'll intuitively step forward with your dominant leg first. This leg is your natural choice for leading in the split jerk.

It’s worth noting that there can be exceptions. If you feel more stable and comfortable leading with the other leg, it's perfectly acceptable to switch. The key is to find the position where you feel most balanced and secure.

Understanding and Correcting the Split Position

To effectively learn and correct the split position, begin with a walking lunge and hold the position. Ideally, you should feel a high degree of stability in this stance. If you don’t, make small adjustments until you can hold the position comfortably. From here, we can fine-tune your form by focusing on a few key points:

  1. Front Shin and Foot Position: Your front shin should be vertical, with the foot flat on the floor. This alignment is critical for stability and proper weight distribution.

  2. Back Leg and Foot Position: Your back leg should have a soft bend, with the heel slightly elevated and the weight driving through the balls of your feet. The back foot must point forward. If it doesn't, the structural integrity of your ankle joint will be compromised, increasing the risk of injury and failed lifts.

  3. Leg Width and Foot Direction: The width of your legs should match your squat position, and both feet should point forward. A common issue is the back foot pointing outwards, which can destabilise the ankle and lead to failed lifts.

  4. Back Leg Bend: A slight bend in the back leg is important for many reasons. If the back leg is too straight, it can shift your weight forward, causing the barbell to move out of position and leading to a failed lift. The bend also reduces tension in the hip flexors keeping them stable and level, and helps maintain a neutral spine, preventing hyperextension of the lower back.

Building Stability and Muscle Memory

Once you have the split position corrected, test your stability by performing the same movement with a barbell in the front rack position. Maintaining the split stance, press the barbell overhead for five reps. This exercise is excellent for building muscle memory and enhancing stability in the split position. Start with a light weight and gradually increase it as you become more confident and stable.

This overhead pressing exercise not only solidifies your split stance but also serves as a fantastic primer for the split jerk itself. By keeping the weight light and focusing on form and stability, you'll be setting a strong foundation for successful and safe split jerks.


Mastering the split jerk begins with finding your preferred lead leg and perfecting your split position. By paying close attention to the alignment of your legs and feet, and practicing stability exercises, you'll enhance your performance and reduce the risk of injury. Remember, the key is to find a position where you feel most balanced and secure, and from there, refine your technique for optimal results.

Happy lifting!


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