How to Leg Curl

About the Leg Curl

The hamstrings are responsible for knee flexion - the action of bringing your heel up towards your butt. The lying leg curl adds resistance to this movement, and is therefore an effective way of directly targeting the hamstrings.

The interesting thing about the hamstrings is the dual role they play, by being responsible for the flexion of the knee, as well as the extension of the hip. We can isolate the muscle in the way discussed here, by performing a leg curl which involves the flexion of the knee joint, but we can also target the muscle with exercises which involve hip extension, with the stiff leg deadlift being one of the best options in this regard.

Therefore, an athlete will likely want to combine both hip extension and leg flexion exercises within their training plan to cover all bases when it comes to hamstring development.

How to perform

Preparation

  1. Set the pin of the weight stack to suitable weight and adjust the leg pad if necessary
  2. Stand in-between the leg pad and the platform, grasp the handles at the end of the bench, and lie flat (facing down)
  3. Place your lower legs behind the leg pads ready to curl the level upward

Execution

  1. Flex at the knee to bring the lever upwards until you reach peak contraction
  2. Lower the lever in a controlled manner by reversing the action back to the starting position
  3. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

About the Leg Curl

Like the lying leg curl, the standing version isolates and targets the hamstrings. There is little difference between the standing and lying variations, so pick whichever one you feel most comfortable performing.

The important point to follow during the standing leg curl is to avoid any movement of the torso or hips. The upper leg should remain stationary, with flexion of the knee being the only action moving the lever.

You may notice that the hamstrings can be targeted with the leg curl, as well as other exercises, such as the barbell deadlift, which do not involve the flexion of the knee. The reason behind this is due to the hamstrings dual role, being both responsible for the flexion of the knee (like during the standing leg curl) as well as the extension of the hip (like during the deadlift). An athlete may wish to incorporate both types of exercises within their training plan to train both these aspects.

How to perform

Preparation

  1. Set pin to correct weight and adjust the lever lengths if necessary
  2. Stand erect on the platform, with the leg you wish to exercise pressed up against the pad, and ankle positioned on the lower pad

Execution

  1. Flex at the knee to bring the lever upward until you reach peak contraction, avoiding any movement of the torso or hips
  2. Slowly reverse the movement back to the starting position
  3. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

Other Leg Exercises

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