Mastering the J-Curl
J-Curls are an exercise made popular by gymnasts, but have grown in popularity due to the benefits they have for lengthening and strengthening the spine.
The J-Curl isn’t the same as an RDL and shouldn’t be performed like an RDL.
J-Curls target the posterior chain while training spinal flexion through a full range of motion.
How To Start
To begin, follow a few simple cues:
- Start standing on the ground with a neutral spine and palms facing forward
- Round your neck towards your chest and gradually allow your shoulders to follow suit
- Once your head and shoulders are rounded, think about slowly rolling your spine forward
- Keep your legs long and reach your palms to the ground
- To return, think about slowly unrolling your spine, neck and shoulders back to the starting position.
To master the J-Curl:
➡️ Start with no weight or a PVC pipe on flat ground
➡️ Gradually add light dumbbells until you are comfortable using 50% of your bodyweight
➡️ You can also progress by adding depth, standing on 2”, 4” and 6” boxes
➡️ Start with only 5-8 reps, increasing the sets and reps as you progress
➡️ When using depth and weight, start with 3-5 reps and work up to 15-20 reps
Weightlifting can take a toll on the posterior chain and the spine.
Very few exercises are able to lengthen the spine and strengthen it in a safe and effective way.
While good mornings, deadlifts and RDL’s train the posterior chain with a neutral back, the J-Curl is the only exercise that can train spinal flexion through a full range of motion.
The key with J-Curls is scaling them to meet your demands and fitness levels.
It’s important to start with the easiest version, flat ground with bodyweight and work up to heavier loads in a full range of motion.