The Jefferson Curl: One Exercise for Full Body Mobility
When you think of training with weights, what comes to mind? Most people associate weights with strength training, but weights have another (often overlooked!) use as well. Gymnastic Strength Training athletes use weights to gain mobility. These weighted exercises help increase flexibility and strength in full ranges of motion. This helps prevent injuries and increases movement freedom!
The most popular GymFitTV weighted mobility drill is by far the Jefferson Curl. Members love it because it relieves tension through their spines, legs, and shoulders. They never thought it was possible to gain impressive flexibility after years of desk patrol!
Tips For Success
The Jefferson Curl is an essential drill for all movers, but Coach Sommer first learned it from weightlifters. They were using it to stretch their lower backs after training. They couldn't flex their lower backs after all the squatting and deadlifting. Jefferson Curls helped to balance out their spines. Today, many people also suffer from tight muscles in the lower back. This is mostly from too much sitting around!
Since most of us are tight but lack the strength of a weightlifter, the average adult trying a Jefferson Curl needs to be careful. Take note of these important tips for this movement:
- Use light weight to start. As light as 5 pounds is often enough for adults to stretch their backs. You can even train this movement without any weight at first!
- There should be no pain whatsoever when performing Jefferson Curls. If there is, stop and address the pain issue before training this exercise.
Take a moderate approach to prevent injury. This helps you to progress further over time. You’re training to be unstoppable every day, so make sure you'll be able to keep training tomorrow!
How to Do a Jefferson Curl
With those tips in mind, stand on a stable, elevated surface such as a box, bench, or thick mat. Hold a weight in your hands. Use a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or any other available weight. Stand up tall with your legs straight and together.
Begin the movement by tucking your chin into your chest. Then, slowly continue to round your back one vertebrae at a time. As you curl, feel the weight "pull" you lower towards the floor. Stay balanced on the balls of your feet to keep from leaning back. Leaning back with your hips decreases the stretch.
Your entire spine should have one uniform curve to it at the bottom. Use a partner or a video to find the flattest spot of your lower back. Then, focus on pulling your belly button into your spine. Think about trying to lay your stomach on your thighs. Remember to breathe throughout the movement. Sink as low as you can while keeping your legs completely engaged.
Reverse the movement by uncurling the spine beginning with the low back first. Keep your chin tucked into your chest the whole time. When you are standing up all the way, finally extend your neck straight. Repeat the Jefferson Curl for reps. Enjoy the stretch in your hamstrings, glutes, lumbar fascia, and even low traps!
Progressing Your Mobility
Once the Jefferson Curl is commonplace in your training, it's time to add some weight. Remember that you can't train your mobility as intensely as your conditioning. Your connective tissue and new ranges of motion take longer to adapt. So, have patience with your Jefferson Curl progress to avoid overuse injuries. Aim to add anywhere from 5-10 lbs every 2-3 months on this movement.
Now that you know the ins and outs of this weighted mobility, use it in your training at least once a week to see positive changes. This drill packs some serious benefits.
The Jefferson Curl produces:
- Flexibility in your hamstrings.
- Strength in your posterior chain.
- Movement options in your spine.
- A strong, supple, and mobile body.
Weighted mobility is the game-changer for your fitness routine. The Jefferson Curl gives you whole body strength and mobility. Can you think of a more perfect exercise for the everyday athlete?