T Nation

The Bad, Bad Split Jerk


I'm sure that this is the single most damaging movement in weightlifting. Let's see:

  1. The sudden stop at the top is especially bad for the arm joints (wrist, elbow, and shoulder). Compounded by the fact the the weight lifted is the heavier one.
  2. If you have groin strain/pull, forget about jerking because your hip joint where the trailing leg attaches will cry. It's still possible though to split jerk if the pull is only on one side (like my case).
  3. It damages the ankle joint of your trailing leg.

I can attribute all of my injuries (thankfully only minor right now) to jerking, except the groin pull. I pulled my right one because I was stupid and did sumo deadlift for some time.

/end rant


Boo-fucking-hoo pal.
You were doing an exercise that your body wasn't presently adapted to handle.
So don't spew shit like this.


Never been injured Jerking in 12yrs...the only issue was when I hit my chin with the bar about 10yrs ago...

Been injured about 3x on the Clean.

The Jerk is a very violement movement...but lets talk about olifting now :stuck_out_tongue:

It is a very aggressive movement to get a lot of weight over head. Just make sure you do warm up properly and you should be fine.

Ankle issues? I've had no issues ever with my ankles.

I do think some people are more susceptible to injuries though. My mate, uber f0cking strong, 210kg back squat for 5's 115/145 ish in his OLifting was always getting injured no matter what he was doing. He was religious in his warm ups and pre and post training stuff. Post training for me involves getting changed and getting out of the gym.



Haha that reminds me about the fact that I have hit my head 3 times with the bar lol.

Koing, you lucky guy. Maybe you have a more robust structure or something. Are you an endomorph? If yes, that may explain it.

Discounting myself, two lifters in my gym have some issues with their wrists. One lifter has some with his elbow and ankle. Thankfully their issues and mine appear sporadically and not continuous.


Yes, true, but it's indeed a pretty "violent movement" (borrowing Koing's term).

BTW I know that some people's shoulders don't respond well to barbell presses. I wonder how they would respond to jerks.


Well my knees give me issues. Besides that I rarely have problems with anything else. I guess everyone has a weak "point" and its different for everyone.

People kept telling me if I keep catching the jerks and don't let my palms face towards the ceiling that I'll injure my wrist. No problem so far.. not one bit.


squat jerk then :-p


You know that I used to squat jerk but my coach at one point asked me to split because he said that my squat jerk wasn't low enough which made me often pressed out (I'll get reds in comps). His assessment is very true actually because my body is kind of afraid to go down when it's heavy.

Yeah my coach also tell us to do that for the same reason. But it's hard to do that with a heavy weight.


jerks don't bother me at all. snatches bother my wrists from time to time due to the wide grip. all the squatting from cleaning and snatching sometimes my irritates my hips. but no problems at all from the jerk.


Never head my head with the bar, but one of my lifters hit his head on the Sn which drew soem blood.

I'm fairly robust but training full time Bulgarian style for 11 days took me to pieces. I wasn't injured but I felt seriously beat up and my numbers took a nose dive. My mates numbers stayed strong but his training capacity and stamina is insane.

I've had about 4wrist issues over the past 12yrs. So I've been pretty lucky injury wise but I have a prolapsed L4 which is gash. Means my back is really sore/ stiff in the mornings and hurts a lot.

Just be careful in your warm ups and take care before going crazy on the weights. Make sure flexibility is a non issue for you.



You are right. The jerk is the most difficult lift. My guess is that your technique was not well polished to execute this lift. It could be very confusing as far as the dynamics of the exercise and mostly being the jerk a totally leg exercise ,tightening your shoulders and arms (trying to lift with your arms)will lead to miss the lift, pain and injury.

This concern was addressed by many leading researches and scientists in the old Soviet Union when they saw that only 52% of the lifts in C&J were valid (in the 80's) and of the 48% invalid lifts between 70.8 to 78% misses were in the jerk. They studied 6 different exercise to improve the jerk and the best was jerk behind the neck.

Please wath the following video fro further details.
Ivan Rojas
Risto Sports LLC head coach
Coach team USA University 2010


Thanks for the tip about behind the neck jerks! I've never done that. Lately jerking has been starting to bother my right shoulder again and I don't want to re-injure it!


It honestly sounds like you are not flexible enough or strong enough to do the lifts. How about you back off the heavy weights for a spell and work on your positions. You mentioned that you used to squat jerk but "your body got nervous about getting under it". Your nervous because you don't have the strength to get under it. If your wrists and elbows hurt while jerking then your shoulders probably don't move that well.

Your thorasic spine is most likely locked solid. The ankle joint on your trail leg most likely does not have full dorsiflexion, which also means your big toes can dorsiflex. Thanks for the rant but I'm not going to feel sorry for someone because they are too lazy to actually do soft tissue work and do some self mobs.

Good luck with those behind the neck jerks though..i bet the lack of external rotation, scapular depression and retraction, and inability to extend your throasic spine with really make them a joy.


Actually I consider myself to be pretty flexible.... If you give me some parameters to assess then I can tell you how well I perform.

The doc said that my right shoulder probably have a SLAP tear. Thankfully if I let it to have some rest then usually it will be ok. Do you think that it's flexibility related?

As for not enough strength, yes that's always a problem.


When I neck jerk I use almost no shoulder drive. The most should activation occurs when I am holding the bar at the top of the lift waiting for the down signal. If you are having shoulder issues it may mean you aren't finishing the extension which will lead you to try to compensate and drive the weight up with your shoulders too much. You also shouldn't have hip flexer issues if you finish the extension before splitting.

If you attempt to split before your feet leave the ground then you have to work against the friction of your lifting shoes which will leave you with sporadic foot placement at the end of the split and possibly strained hip flexers due to the added stress. Splitting later and having a more consistent split should also help with your ankle issues because you can find a comfortable landing position for your feet that won't put too much stress on them.

I hope this helps.


I have the same problem :frowning: