the blog

welcome to 

Fitness

October 26, 2022

Is the Jefferson Curl Safe? Yes or No

Are Jefferson Curls Safe? Yes or No with Annie Miller

Is the Jefferson Curl safe or no?

Many trainers and coaches from the strength world to physical therapy to chiropractic to general personal training have very dogmatic thoughts about the Jefferson curl.  I, for one, used to judge this exercise so hard. The movement elitist in my back-injury rehabbed self was like, “WHY WOULD YOU EVER VOLUNTARILY ENTER SPINAL FLEXION?! And possibly LOAD IT?!” Now they’re a part of my squat and deadlift day warm ups. But not without careful reconsideration. A consideration I am hoping you’ll be willing to explore today.

Let’s begin with the fact that any given exercise can be performed with poor form. That poor form doesn’t always lead to injury. And yes, that some exercises may lend themselves to a higher risk factor. I am open to the argument that the Jefferson curl is one of those exercises. Under a load that is too high for a trainee and with improper form, or prerequisite mobility and control, one could become injured. And said injury would likely be in the low back or hamstrings – somewhere in the posterior chain as that is the area being worked.

I am pro Jefferson curls if they make sense, and can be performed in the absence of pain.

The goal form of the movement is as follows (and is NOT perfectly performed by me):

With feet under hips, one vertebrae at a time (from cervical through thoracic and into lumbar), actively “roll” down as far as possible, keeping the legs straight. Reach end range (likely set by the hamstrings). Reverse the movement, vertebrae by vertebrae.

You can see why a prerequisite of this movement would be unloaded spinal segmentation, say in a quadruped position. Even standing with no weight, the upper body provides load to the spine as we enter flexion. So quadruped provides a truly unloaded position. In my video, you can see that I lose lumbar flexion at the bottom. The spine should FULLY be in triple flexion of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine at the bottom of the movement. I lengthen my body at the bottom and lose that rounded, rolled, potato bug like spinal positioning. When you watch someone who can REALLY segment the spine, you’ll see what I am missing here.

From a muscles standpoint think about the return – spinal and hip extension. Hello posterior chain. Specifically hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors and multifidus. These muscles are lengthening eccentrically as you lower down, and contracting concentrically as you stand back up into a neutral spine position.

Traditionally to help with the rounded position of the spine, you can load the Jefferson curl in the pit of the elbows like a Zercher squat. This promotes keeping the weight close to the body and nearly wrapping your mid section around it.

To be clear, the spine should be mobile – and ideally we can control it in a segmented manner. I know that’s something I’m personally working towards more and more. Jefferson curls are just one tool in the tool box to help that happen. Loaded or not.

I would keep these at the beginning of a lift as a warm up or as a skill that is being built and takes concentration and coordination to do so. Like any exercise, they’re safe when performed properly with the right load, after progressing through the correct prerequisites.

Have you done them? Intrigued by them? Still judging?

If you’d like to learn more about program design for strength, yes, and hypertrophy training over long term periodization, check out Pure PROgramming.

If you want to get strong, enjoy your workouts and make #educatedgains, then get on the Built by Annie waitlist. 

Join my mailing list for weekly blog and podcast updates. You may or may not get VIP discounts as well. Just saying. Join the fam!

Original Instagram post seen below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

Hey you,

The name's Annie & you're reading my thoughts. Let's get acquainted. 

the whole story >

fitness

travel

PERSONAL

fitPrENeuR

podcast

mindset

creep the categories

Mobility, workouts, methodologies.

Tools so you can do hard things.

Behind the scenes. Keepin' it real.

Photo diaries + travel guides

Tips & tricks for entrepreneurs

Weekly actionable takeaways

looking for something specific? find it here

THE LINKS BELOW ARE AFFILIATE LINKS

SKIN CARE

Nutrition

brands I love

working against gravity

Fre skin care

favorites

blue light blockers

klassy network

code: fdba saves you 15% off

online TRAINERS

save $50

code: ANNIE saves you 20% off

You love my style, trust my reviews, and want more Annie Miller Concepts vibes in your life? Shop my favorite brands. You get awesome products and yours truly gets a little kick-back.

supplements

code annie

free flexy gains

3 Day Mobility + Core

free download

free biz gains

Ideal Client Avatar Creator

free download

level up

for free

how about you

view all free resources

tell me more

let's do more

These aren't your "normal" emails.

get the weekly wisdom or daily dose

You will hear from us shortly :)

thanks!