Everything You Need to Know About The Jefferson Curl

Everything You Need to Know About The Jefferson Curl

Have you head anyone speak about a Jefferson Curl?

It’s one of the most-used exercises in classic gymnastics training (the use of loads to improve mobility and strength in different ranges of motion), and also in strength training.

Don’t forget that improving strength and flexibility in all ranges of motion will help us prevent injuries and facilitate movement.

What is a Jefferson Curl?

The exercise consists of bending the torso while holding a load and keeping the knees extended.

Unlike a Romanian deadlift, in this exercise, the hip doesn’t flex.

What is a Jefferson Curl?

Kettelbell Jefferson Curl.

It’s an exercise that improves not only the flexibility of the posterior chain, but also, well executed, helps to reduce tension in the lower back and shoulders.

As it’s an exercise that requires good flexibility and strength in the posterior chain, before launching into it, we need to assess what state of our structures.

Today, sedentary lifestyles or spending a lot of time sedentary cause a shortening and tension in the posterior area, as well as a lack of strength in the dorsal area.

That’s why there are a few important things to consider before practicing the exercise to avoid injuries due to poor execution and lack of motor control in this movement.

It’s an exercise that requires a lot of control and is considered advanced, so to avoid any type of injury, possible hernias, it’s best to start with some pre-work on spine mobility, flexibility of the posterior chain, and dorsal strength.

What it’s used for

Among the benefits of this exercise, we’ll find improvement in:

  • Flexibility in the hamstrings.
  • Strength in the posterior chain.
  • Mobility of the dorsal spine.

How do you do a Jefferson Curl?

The Jefferson Curl movement is performed on a bench or stable surface with a certain height.

How do you do a Jefferson Curl

In this position, upright and “growing upwards”, the external load (kettelbell, barbell) is held with the legs together and extended.

Start of the movement

The movement starts by bending the neck, bringing the chin closer to the body-sternum.

  • We’ll bend the core, vertebra by vertebra, allowing the external load to facilitate this bending, but with control of the load.
  • We have to keep our weight on the ball of our foot – that’s to say, we shouldn’t feel the weight moving towards the heel.
  • The spine should draw an even curve, and we should think about bringing our bellybutton to our back, towards the spine.
  • Keep the shoulders relaxed, and avoid bending your neck area (don’t lift it to look straight ahead).
The complicated phase is the rise phase, in which control is essential, as well as the activation of the subsequent chain.

Rising phase

We need to maintain a fluid breathing throughout the exercise.

  • After bending your core, you have to undo the movement, starting from the lowest part of the spine.
  • Unravel your spine, also vertebra by vertebra, keeping your weight distributed on the forefoot and avoiding leaning backwards
  • Keep your chin stuck to the body until the final phase of the movement when reaching the initial posture.
  • Reverse the movement by uncurling the spine starting from the lower back.
  • Keep your chin tucked into your chest at all times.
When you are fully standing again, finally extend the neck straight.

Is it a dangerous exercise?

It’s an exercise that requires of a lot of motor control, dorsal mobility and strength in the posterior chain. Like any other exercise if it’s badly executed or done without good progression, of course it can be potentially harmful and is not recommended.

It’s stretching with a load, at an advanced level.

dangerous Jefferson Curl

An excellent mobility and strength base is essential before introducing this type of stretching.

The progression of spinal mobility is important, and you should start practicing without a load, and introduce it little by little, and without it being excessive.

What sports is the movement good for?

As I mentioned earlier, the Jefferson Curl is one of the classic exercises of the gym sports training routines, but also we find this same movement as one of the basic exercises of the Pilates Method (Roll down), in order to control the flexion of the spine and its mobility.

In particular, from my experience as a Trainer, it’s an interesting exercise for those athletes / people who, once they have a good base of mobility and strength, introduce it into the progression of their training routine.

Recommended sports

It’s an exercise that improves posterior chain flexibility and dorsal strength.

Why, after a good progression and training base, it could be interesting in the vast majority of sports and from the point of view of health, taking into account the lack of strength and shortening of the back chain.


Things to take into account before practicing:

  • Start with very light loads to start building movement and improve the strength and mobility of the posterior area.
  • It shouldn’t be painful (in which case, you have to check what’s happening and start with dorsal-lumbar mobility work and back strength exercises).

First, you need to analyse the cause of the pain.

Important pointsto consider when practicing exercise:

  • Low-moderate loads.
  • Feet together.
  • Chin to sternum for lowering.
  • Knees extended.
  • Vertebra-by-vertebra descent.

Related Entries

  • Heard of the Plato Curl? Click here to find out how it’s done.
  • Do you have good mobility? We encourage you to do these upper and lower body tests.
Review of Jefferson Curl

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About Isabel del Barrio
Isabel del Barrio
Sport runs in the blood of Isabel, which she has proven since she was very little up until now. She wants to share that passion with all those who are passionate about sports.
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