How To Do Jefferson Curl: Your Complete Guide To Its Benefits, Muscles Worked And Mistakes To Avoid

As we spend countless hours sitting on chairs, our spines can be negatively impacted. Sitting for extended periods can lead to poor posture, muscle imbalances, and increased pressure on the spine. It can contribute to conditions like back pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Recognizing these concerns, individuals are actively searching for ways to address and improve the health of their spines.

One way people can improve their spine health is by doing exercises and stretches that focus on the back and core muscles. The Jefferson curl is an example of such an exercise that targets both the back and core muscles.

It’s important to understand that the Jefferson Curl may not be right for everyone from the beginning. If someone has noticeable posture problems, like excessive rounding of the upper or lower back, it’s better to focus on other exercises that improve mobility first. Additionally, if a person experiences pain and feels better with backward bending movements, the Jefferson Curl, which involves forward bending, may make their symptoms worse. Lastly, if someone struggles to control specific parts of their upper and lower back, it could put their lower back ligaments and discs at risk of injury.

So, here we’ll talk about why it’s good for you, which muscles it works, and some common mistakes to watch out to get the best results.

What Is Jefferson Curl

The Jefferson curl is an exercise that makes your spine more flexible, strengthens the muscles in your lower back, and stretches your hamstrings. If your back is healthy, doing this exercise can make your spine stronger and more resilient.

How To Do Jefferson Curl: Your Complete Guide To Its Benefits, Muscles Worked And Mistakes To Avoid

It is a movement that is commonly used by weightlifters, powerlifters, gymnasts, and people who are into general fitness and training. It involves bending forward from the waist while keeping your legs straight and allowing your back to round. It can be a beneficial exercise for the spine if you have the necessary mobility and stability. Sometimes, It becomes problematic when someone tries to lift heavy weights with a flexed spine without the required mobility.

Jefferson Curl was one of the exercises that were studied for improving thoracic mobility, motor control and strength in a 2020 study where it was found to be effective, however, more research is needed.

Steps To Perform Jefferson Curls

To perform Jefferson Curls, follow these step-by-step instructions for a safe and effective experience:

  1. Find a small box or bench: Look for a stable surface that you can stand on, ensuring it’s secure and won’t slide or tip during the exercise.
  2. Choose a light weight: Select a weight that is manageable for you, typically between 5 to 10 pounds. Dumbbells or a kettlebell are good options to hold in your hands during the exercise.
  3. Begin the movement: Start by gently rounding your spine from the top down. Drop your chin towards your chest, allowing your neck to flex. Continue rounding through your chest and lower back, creating a rounded shape with your spine.
  4. Keep your arms straight and close: Throughout the movement, maintain straight arms and keep them close to your body. The weights you’re holding will assist in achieving a full rounded position of your spine.
  5. Lower down with straight legs: Slowly lower your body as far as you comfortably can while keeping your legs straight. If you can go beyond the box and below your feet, that’s great! However, only go as far as you feel comfortable without straining.
  6. Optional pause in the bottom position: If desired, pause for 1 to 5 seconds in the fully rounded position at the bottom. Take relaxed breaths during this pause, allowing your body to adapt and adjust.
  7. Reverse the movement: To finish the exercise, gradually reverse the movement by straightening your lower back first, then your chest, and finally bringing your head back upright. This will return your spine to a neutral position.
How To Do Jefferson Curl: Your Complete Guide To Its Benefits, Muscles Worked And Mistakes To Avoid

By following these instructions, you can safely and effectively perform Jefferson Curls to target your spine and promote flexibility and strength. Since, this exercise can lead to injuries if done incorrectly or with improper form, start with lighter weights, and gradually progress as you become more comfortable with the exercise.

Benefits Of Jefferson Curl

The popularity of this exercise has grown as more people discover its potential for improving their overall well-being. Some of the benefits are given below:

  1. Strengthens Your Lower Back and Core: This targets your core and lower back muscles, making them stronger and more stable. These muscles help support your movements and transfer force between your hips and upper body. By training the full range of motion in your spine, the Jefferson curl enhances your core and lower back strength.
  2. Stretches Your Hamstrings: If you experience tightness in your hamstrings, it can help. Adding weights to the exercise allows for a deeper stretch and helps lengthen the hamstrings. By combining core strengthening with proper lifting form, you can improve hamstring flexibility and address any tightness you may feel.
  3. Expands Your Range of Positions: It exposes your body to different positions, making you more adaptable and resilient. Life sometimes puts us in unexpected situations where our bodies need to handle unfamiliar positions and forces. Training with exercises like the Jefferson curl prepares your body to handle these challenges, reducing the risk of injury. Embracing spinal flexion as a natural movement pattern helps build strength and confidence in your ability to handle different positions.
How To Do Jefferson Curl: Your Complete Guide To Its Benefits, Muscles Worked And Mistakes To Avoid

Remember to approach this exercise with caution, especially if you have any pre-existing back conditions or injuries. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness instructor to ensure proper form and technique while performing this exercise.

Muscles Worked

This exercise targets multiple muscle groups in the body. Here are the primary muscles worked during Jefferson curls:

  1. Erector spinae: The erector spinae muscles run along the length of your spine and play a significant role in spinal extension and stabilization. They are responsible for maintaining an upright posture and supporting the spine during movements.
  2. Spinal extensors: These muscles include the multifidus and longissimus thoracics, which work in conjunction with the erector spinae to extend and stabilize the spine. They play a crucial role in maintaining proper posture and supporting the back.
  3. Internal obliques: The internal oblique muscles are located deep within the abdomen and play a role in trunk rotation and lateral flexion. During Jefferson curls, these muscles engage to stabilize the core and assist in maintaining proper spinal alignment.
  4. Hamstrings: Jefferson curls also provide a loaded stretch for the hamstrings, the muscles located at the back of your thighs. As you lower yourself down in the exercise, the hamstrings lengthen under tension, promoting flexibility and mobility in these muscles.

By targeting these muscle groups, it help strengthen the muscles of the low back and core while providing a beneficial stretch for the hamstrings. Jefferson curls can contribute to improved posture, spinal stability, and overall strength in the targeted areas.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Doing This Exercise

If you’re new to this exercise, then you’ll want to make sure you avoid some of the most common mistakes. Here are five mistakes to avoid when doing the Jefferson Curl:

  1. Pushing through pain: Don’t ignore any pain during the exercise. If you feel pain, reduce the weight or remove it altogether. If the pain persists, it’s best to skip this for now.
  2. Going too fast: Take it slow and focus on each part of your spine as you move. Moving slowly allows you to control your body and get the most benefits from the exercise. Avoid rushing through it.
  3. Turning it into a hip hinge: Don’t confuse the Jefferson Curl with a hip hinge movement like deadlifts or kettlebell swings. Keep your back rounded, rather than trying to maintain a neutral position. Your hip position should remain relatively stable without reaching them back.
  4. Bending your knees too much: Keep your knees as straight as possible. Bending them too much takes away some of the exercise’s benefits, especially the hamstring stretch.
  5. Using too much weight: Keep the weight light. It’s better to focus on control and a full range of motion rather than lifting heavy weights. Aim to have a few reps left in reserve at the end of each set to gauge the appropriate weight.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure proper form and maximize the effectiveness of the Jefferson Curl.

Safety Tips

Before you do this exercise, make sure you prioritize safety by following these tips:

  1. Warm up: Start with a warm-up that includes gentle exercises and stretches to prepare your body for the workout. This helps prevent injuries.
  2. Consider your history: If you’ve had lower back issues or injuries before, talk to a professional before trying Jefferson Curls. They can give you advice and modifications to keep you safe and pain-free.
  3. Get professional advice: If you’re unsure about your form or feel any discomfort during the exercise, ask a fitness professional or physical therapist for help. They can assess your movements and give you tips to improve.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure a safer experience while doing Jefferson Curls.


Jefferson Curls are an exercise that can help improve the health of your spine, strengthen your lower back and core muscles, and increase hamstring flexibility. It’s important to prioritize safety by warming up, considering any previous back issues, and seeking professional guidance if needed.

Avoid common mistakes such as pushing through pain, rushing through the exercise, turning it into a hip hinge, bending your knees excessively, and using too much weight. By following proper form and technique, you can enjoy the benefits of Jefferson Curls while minimizing the risk of injury.

Leave a Comment