An Argument for the Split Jerk

Strongman has a rich history at DEUCE Gym. Whether we’ve succumbed to it or not, we all have felt the primal pull of the kegs and stones in the back of the gym and imagined ourselves in Coach Meredith’s Strongman 101 class. 

With some exceptions, the modality of Strongman revolves around the following movement patterns: carry, load, hinge, and press. 

In Strongman, success in the press is dictated by one’s ability to put heavy objects overhead. There are a handful of ways to get the job done. The strict press is a tried and true static expression of power. The push press combines some leg drive to jump the object off the athlete’s torso before they finish by pressing to lockout. Finally, there’s the jerk, the most dynamic of the overhead presses. In fact,

The jerk is technically not a press, but a slight of hand. 

The jerk is a trick of athleticism where the athlete drives the object off their torso and fluidly drives themselves under the object to receive it in a squat, partial squat, or split stance. It is the most technically difficult to master but offers the greatest return on investment because it is the least fatiguing and has the highest loading potential. 

When one thinks of Strongman, they typically think of static, brute strength. But, the sport is evolving. Like everything else, sport progresses to include what is most conducive to performance. Strongman is becoming more athletic or, more accurately, Strongmen and women whose athleticism is more developed are beginning to dominate the sport. 

For most of its existence, clean and press records in Strongman were achieved by either strict or push press variations. The push and split jerk were for those funny, technical little guys in singlets: Olympic Weightlifters.  

Those days are coming to an end. Recently, in the 2024 Arnold Strongman Classic, Mitch Hooper hit five reps in two minutes on the 400 lb Apollon Wheel Axle Bar ‘Clean and Press,’ definitively outperforming every other athlete on the field. He was the only athlete to utilize a jerk. Especially because he is not the strongest overhead presser in the group, Mitch’s strategy shows that the split jerk is the best tool for the job. 

It can be argued that the specific press variation in this year’s show has unique stabilization demands, making the split jerk somewhat risky. However, with practice and proper development, the split jerk can be utilized on almost any overhead press variation. Mitch has worked diligently on his split-jerk mechanics. That work paid off. His focus on technical ability allowed him to take home his second straight Arnold Classic Championship. 

Proficient movement includes a balance of strength and technique. Neither is superior to the other. However, Mitch Hooper’s efforts show that solely focusing on strength will impede your long-term development. 

The road to mastering the split jerk is the road less traveled. It’s a longer road with infinitely more frustration and struggle. It’s also the road that will take you farther in the end. 

If you want to experience Strongman training, there’s no better place to do so than our 8-week specialty course, Strongman 101. Coach Meredith would love to talk to you about it.

If you’re keen to develop your ability to split jerk, DEUCE offers two opportunities to dive into Olympic Lifting. The first is another 8-week specialty course. The second is a weekly Olympic Lifting Class that meets at 6:30 PM every Thursday and is included with any GPP membership. can help you with either option.

3/19/24 WOD

DEUCE Athletics GPP

Complete 4 rounds of the following:
12 Seal Rows

Complete 3 rounds for quality of:
10 DB Pullovers
4 Candlestick Negatives

Min 1: 15 Banded KB Swings
Min 2: 10 DB Push Presses
Min 3: Max Lateral Plyo Boxes
Min 4: Rest



Kneeling Jump to Box Jump

Complete 3 rounds for quality of:
10 Med Ball Lateral Scoop Toss – Left
10 Med Ball Lateral Scoop Toss – Right
8 Strict Hanging Leg Raises

Then, complete 2 rounds for time of:
15 Burpee Box Jump Overs (30/24)
30 Toes-to-Bar
800m Run