The Split Press

Emmett; tire flip Christine.

I have a big pet peeve of mine that I would like to talk about.  The split press (for lack of a better term) and its ignoble kin.

One of the criticisms leveled at CrossFit (see Greg Everett for one) is that high rep or fast rep Olympic lifting leads to bad form on the Olympic lifts.  And, you know what, he is right.  Whether some bad form (not unsafe form, mind you) on max lifts outweighs the benefits of high and fast rep O-lifting for the development of CrossFit fitness (work capacity) is highly debatable.  The solution is to have good form and still be able to cycle fast.

That said, there is one movement that really shouldn’t be done in a metcon–the split jerk.  Done for repetitive speed, the split degenerates into a split press type movement.  The feet barely move, the rear heel is on the ground, the back leg-both really-is straight, and the hips have not dropped at all.  This just makes me gnash my teeth and throttle the culprit (I can usually hold myself back).

Billy demos the split press mess.

One would be much better suited–on so many levels– to do a push/power jerk instead.

  • Faster cycle time (less foot movement)
  • Lower hips
  • And, most importantly, not creating horrible movement patterns for the actual split jerk

The push jerk.

Integral to the split jerk is the aggressive dropping of the hips (and shoulders).  The heavier the weight, the more important the drop is.  Ingrained poor movement patterns due to the above pictured split press will rear its ugly head with more authority the more the hip/shoulder drop is needed, ie the heavier the weight.

Billyboy with a real split jerk.

The split press is one of the ugliest movements see in a CrossFit box.  It is a panicky jerky spasm, where the brain is short circuiting under the stress of the load and fatigue.  The split jerk in comparison, indeed all the Olympic lifts, is a smooth fluid dextrous explosion of muscles and sinew coupled with highly intelligent technique (think for a moment how truly smart the O-lifting techniques are for lifting weight).

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One of CF West’s blog posts was recently translated into Spanish and posted on the CrossFit Peru site.  Check it out.


Hang Squat Clean

7×3 60% 1RM

Clean Pulls

10×1 max possible weight


10, 8, 6, 4, 2

Sumo Deadlift High Pull


Guys use 135, dolls use 85#.

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