“Drive the Bar”: Zack Telander’s Split Jerk Tips For Strongman Mitchell Hooper

2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Mitchell Hooper has been dipping into Olympic weightlifting to improve as a Strongman competitor. The techniques used in Olympic weightlifting offer crossover into strongman that can help push Hooper above the rest of the field. Examples include using a split jerk during a log press or snatching a heavy implement during a loading medley.

Hooper paired with Texas A&M weightlifting coach Zack Telander at a Miami fitness expo — a CrossFit event. On Jan. 14, 2024, Telander published a video on his YouTube channel that features the pointers Telander gave Hooper during a split-jerk workout to maximize strength output. Check it out below:

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Split Jerk Drills & Technique

While Strongman and Olympic weightlifting are cousins in the lifting world, Hooper had little experience with the push-jerk before training with Telander. Telander didn’t want to “turn [Hooper] into an overthinker” on the new lift since Hooper was obviously not fresh to the barbell game.

I don’t want to make [Hooper] into an Olympic weightlifter. I want to give him the best practices.

Telander began the coaching session with the end position of a split jerk, where the legs are split and bent in the receiving position. He implored Hooper to stretch this position into nearly a lunge with a back-heel pulse to warm up the back leg.

Telander had Hooper get into a deep squat to alleviate thoracic spine stress. In a power jerk, both legs land directly beneath the body with the barbell overhead, which applies heavy stress to the thoracic spine. A split jerk can help alleviate that by spreading the strain.

Telander suggested starting with the barbell overhead and bringing it down while tucking the elbows forward to assist with proper front-racking technique. Telander urged the best practice of ensuring the front foot is kicked out enough so the front knee remains behind the heel when the barbell moves overhead. Telander equated proper form to kicking a soccer ball, where the foot extends in front.

Other best practices mentioned included landing the back foot first when moving under the barbell. This is the body’s anchor point, which helps maintain balance. The back foot landing first absorbs most of the force.

Get the idea that you’re jumping out of your mind. You’re just driving the sh*t out of the bar. Drive high, stay high.

The cue of “drive high, stay high” means keeping the body upright and pushing the bar up while the legs absorb the weight. “Jumping” with the barbell is uncontrolled, but “driving” the barbell is not.

Split Jerk Warm-Up & Hooper’s PR

As with any Olympic weightlifting movement, the technique is pivotal for form and safety. Hooper warmed up with 62 kilograms (135 pounds), focused on how his body moved through the split jerk. He increased 102 kilograms (225 pounds), driving the bar up, splitting the feet, pushing the neck forward, and maintaining his balance throughout.

Hooper commented during Telander’s warm-up that Telander doesn’t drop very far – roughly four inches. They increased the weight to 142 kilograms (315 pounds). Telander told Hooper to kick Hooper’s front foot out and extend the front knee. Hooper adhered to the coaching before upping the weight to 165 kilograms (365 pounds) for a single.

Hooper continued to push the weight up to 183 kilograms (405 pounds). He locked it out clean on his first attempt. He attempted a personal record (PR) afterward of 206 kilograms (455 pounds). Hooper exploded the bar overhead, planted his back foot, and nailed the PR on his first attempt.

Recognizing he had more in the tank, Hooper upped the weight on the bar to 211 kilograms (465 pounds). Again, another successful attempt and a second PR of the session.

Hooper is expected to compete in strongman next at the 2024 Arnold Strongman Classic, where he will attempt his first title defense. Before that, he will fly to Qatar in February to compete in his mixed martial arts debut against 2017 WSM champion Eddie Hall.

Featured image: @coach_zt on Instagram

The post “Drive the Bar”: Zack Telander’s Split Jerk Tips For Strongman Mitchell Hooper appeared first on BarBend.


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