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Lying Leg Curl: Discussing the Benefits, Muscles Worked, and Alternatives

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

One of the best isolation exercises for the hamstrings is the lying leg curl, sometimes called the hamstring curl. It should be one of your go-to posterior chain (the muscles on the back of your body) exercises if you want to build muscle and strength in your hamstrings. Lying leg curl machine exercises are an excellent addition to any practical lower-body strength training routine and can be done in various positions.

In this blog, we will explore the lying hamstring curl machine exercises and their numerous benefits and learn how to do a lying leg curl at home.

Lying Leg Curl Muscles Worked

Lying leg curl exercises target the hamstrings (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus) and calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus muscles). When lowering your feet back down, your buttocks (gluteus muscles), thighs (quadriceps) and front of the shins (tibialis anterior) are other secondary lying leg curl muscles worked with it.

How to Do Lying Leg Curls?

Given below are the steps to guide you on how to use a lying leg curl machine for exercise: 

  1. Lie face down on the lying leg curl and leg extension machine, stretching your legs out fully. The roller pad should be positioned a few inches above your calves and slightly above your heels.
  2. Hold onto the support handles located on either side of the machine.
  3. Breathe out, bend your knees, and bring your ankles as close to your buttocks as you can. Maintain a strong hip position on the bench. Hold for a moment.
  4. Breathe as you carefully and slowly bring your feet back to the first position.

Throughout the exercise, you can use your toes to help target your calves or hamstrings. Pointing your toes isolates the calf muscles while curling them towards the shin and activates the hamstrings.

Lying Leg Curl Benefits

There are various lying leg curl benefits, some of which are given below: 

  1. It’s ideal for developing strength and hypertrophy

Lying leg curl exercise can bring great strength and size gains for the posterior chain. This can happen with proper execution and focus on controlling the movement as well as contracting your hamstrings hard during the concentric phase.

  1. It can help to address muscular imbalances.

Doing the lying leg curl can help to specifically develop the strength and work capacity of your hamstrings, helping to balance out the strength ratio between the posterior and anterior chains.

  1. It can contribute to athletic development.

Many sports rely on legs to produce muscular power. The hamstrings play a pivotal role in this, as they produce a lot of energy for knee flexion and hip extension — both vitally important for running. Hence, a lying hamstring curl machine is important in developing an athletic physique. 

Lying Leg Curl Alternative Exercises 

Below are a few lying leg curl alternative exercises to try; follow the instructions for effective results. You can also perform a lying leg curl at home. 

Single-leg Deadlift

Instructions 

  1. Stand tall with feet together. Shift your weight onto your right foot.
  2. Maintain a straight back and neck as you hinge at the waist, slightly bending your right knee.
  3. Simultaneously, lift your left leg straight back to achieve a straight line from head to heel.
  4. Ensure your hips remain parallel to the floor throughout.
  5. Gradually return to the starting position with control.
  6. Complete the desired reps, then switch legs and repeat.

Single-leg Bridge

Instructions

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.
  2. Extend your right leg at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Inhale and lift your hips using your left heel.
  4. Focus on fully extending your hips upward.
  5. Lower back down with control.
  6. Switch legs and repeat for desired reps.

Standing Leg Curl with Resistance Band

Adding a resistance band to your standing leg curl is one way to build strength in the hamstrings and calves if you don’t have access to gym equipment. Place the band just above the ankles and lift your foot against the resistance. This is one of the most effective and easy leg curls without machine exercise. 

Common Mistakes Made and How to Fix Them

Given below are a few common mistakes while performing a lying leg curl. Please read carefully and try to avoid these mistakes for better results. 

  1. Using Inappropriate Loads

If you use excessively heavy loads, you may perform the exercise incorrectly. Select the weights accordingly so as to execute each rep with the perfect form if you have the right load.

  1. Incorrect Leg Placement

Place the leg pad correctly on the lying leg curl and leg extension machine to correct the leg placement. This will ensure the exercise is performed effectively, as a range of movements can also be added. 

  1. Rushing Reps

Rushing the eccentric phase mitigates the time under tension (TUT), a driving factor for muscle growth. Subsequently, this will limit the number of training adaptations made. So, ensuring that you control the full rep is essential when making the desired training adaptations in a lying leg curl.

Conclusion

The lying leg curl is a great exercise for directly stimulating the hamstrings, ultimately leading to a more rounded physique and improved athleticism. To develop your hamstrings, use a lying hamstring curl machine and aim for 3 sets of 12 reps, of each exercise, to start. One or 2 days per week of dedicated hamstring work should produce results in just a few months. 

Lying leg curl machine exercises will also help develop accompanying muscles in your lower body. You can also try exercises with leg curls without machine with resistance bands or the lying leg curl alternative exercises listed above. 

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