Split Jerk Recovery: Front Foot First
When recovering from the split jerk, we want to step about a third of the way back with the front foot, and then bring the back foot up to meet it. Why?
The jerk is the lift that will put the most weight in the highest position—we’ll have the highest center of mass and unwanted motion of the bar will have the most influence on our balance and position.
Our goal is to essentially wedge ourselves straight back up under the bar from the split. By stepping back partially with the front foot and then completing the recovery with the back, we can minimize horizontal bar movement, which means no momentum to fight against—we’re pushing the bar as close to straight up as possible.
If we take a larger step with either leg, we’re forcing significant horizontal motion of the bar and creating momentum we then have to control.
So why not start with the back leg? The back leg is in a straighter and stronger position than the front, so it can act as a stable post to lean against as we lift the front foot with no threat of the knee unintentionally bending more.
If we lift the back foot first instead, we’re momentarily holding ourselves up in a partial single-leg squat, all while trying to support a heavy weight overhead that’s now moving horizontally in the direction hardest to stabilize with the front leg—we have to resist the force wanting to both bend and move the knee farther forward over the foot.
You’ve seen plenty of lifters recover from split jerks by bringing the back foot forward first—because you’ve seen plenty of imperfect jerks. When it comes down to it, we recover from a jerk in whatever way we’re forced to in the moment to make the lift.
If our balance is too far forward, we have no choice but to step forward when recovering to try to place ourselves in a balanced position under the bar again, just like we would take a step forward to save a snatch in similar circumstances. Being forced to recover forward is an indication of an error in the jerk.