Leg Curls

You’ve got two choices to build muscle in your hamstrings – seated or lying. Which is it going to be?

The two types of leg curls are both effective at isolating the hamstrings to work them and create muscle tone, and both require an exercise machine to do them.

Also known as the Hamstring Curl, this exercise involves lifting weights, either from a seated position or from a face-down lying position, with the legs. The level of weight determines the strength of the exercise, and it’s potent for building the hamstring muscles.  

Curling in Isolation

Leg Curls are an isolation exercise. Rather than work across a group of muscles, this exercise gets right to one specific area. It’s become increasingly popular to use compound muscle exercises to train more of the body at once to save time, but isolation exercises like this one are still potent and powerful. 

Isolation exercises target individual muscles in a way that broader exercises just can’t do. This is important if you are building towards a specific goal or need to shape just one part of the body. Weightlifters have been using Leg Curls to get right into the hamstrings for decades. It’s one of the best possible ways to bulk up the hamstrings.

Doubly Curly

With two ways to do leg curls, you need to know how to do them. 

Here are the steps for the Seated Leg Curl:

  • Set up the Leg Curl machine so that the back pads are firm and comfortable against your back. 
  • Place your legs on the bar so that it’s just beneath your calves, then set the lap bar so that it’s just above your knees, across your thighs.
  • Grab the side handles, then lift your legs, extending them up until they are parallel to the floor and straight out in front of you.
  • Still holding the side handles, pull the bar back towards you and down, going as far as you can with your legs. 
  • Slowly bring it back to the starting position and repeat.

Now for the Lying Leg Curl:

  • Set up the Leg Curl machine so that your abdomen is comfortable when you are lying face down. 
  • Feel the lever on the back of the machine, and adjust so that it sits just beneath your calf muscles when you’ve got your legs out straight.
  • Hold onto the front handles on the machine and focus.
  • Curl the lower legs up, pulling them as far as you can without your thighs coming off the pad. 
  • Pause for a moment at the top of the movement, then lower slowly back to the beginning position. 
  • Movements should be smooth all the way through. Lower the weight if you’re having to go towards jerking or using momentum to move the weights. 

Mix Your Curls

Though this is a machine exercise, there are a few variations possible without equipment. They are unusual and modern twists on the traditional Leg Curl. These use an exercise ball, sliders, or a suspension trainer. The standard Leg Curl is still the most popular and well known version of this exercise. 

Pushing weight on those hamstrings is a great way to sculpt the body. Find your machine and get going, either while sitting or standing.