The jerk strengthens the legs and trains explosive power. It also works on shoulder strength and stability. This exercise is basically the sequel to the power clean. In traditional weight lifting the clean and jerk are one movement, but for our purposes they are broken up into two separate lifts.
Athletes can benefit greatly from this lift because many sports are played overhead. Basketball, baseball, volleyball, and football are just a few sports that have some kind of overhead component.
To perform the jerk start in the catch position of the clean. The bar should be sitting on your anterior shoulders with your upper arms parallel to the floor and your wrists cocked back, holding the bar. Your legs should be about shoulder width and slightly bent.
The first motion in a jerk is a slight dip of the hips, almost like a quarter squat. This is the loading phase. From here you want to drive your hips forward and jump up explosively. Your legs should be doing most of the work to get the bar into the air.
The arms and shoulders catch the bar over your head. Your head should be pulled through the bar and your biceps should be right next to your ears.
As you release the weight back down, make sure to absorb it on your shoulders and bend your knees as the bar makes contact.
The split jerk works the same muscle groups as the regular jerk. The only basic difference is the catch position. In the catch, your legs align sort of like a lunge position. Many weightlifting competitors catch the jerk in this position. I would recommend whatever is most comfortable for you. The main thing is to catch the bar overhead safely.