Whether seated or lying down, the leg curl is one of the finest approaches to strengthening, isolating, and building your hamstrings. While the standing or standard leg curl forces you to focus on finding the right angle and perform identical curls, the sitting leg curl guides your form with less variance from reps and allows you to execute precise motions through both phases of the curl.
The weight is not directly curled off the floor. Instead, it concentrates the stress on your hamstrings, thus enhancing your lower body strength and helping you avoid injuries and perform better in other lifts and workouts.
The sitting leg curl is an individual exercise that develops the muscles that bend your knee, known as the knee flexors. It primarily works the hamstrings, your greatest knee flexors. Still, it also works many other thigh and calf muscles that assist the hamstrings in knee flexions, such as the gracilis, sartorius, and gastrocnemius.
This Ultimate Guide Will Cover
- How To Do Seated Leg Curl
- Seated Leg Curls Benefits
- Common Seated Leg Curls Mistakes To Avoid
- Seated Leg Curls Muscles Worked
- Seated Leg Curls vs Lying Leg Curl
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
- Seated Leg Curls Variations
- Seated Leg Curls Alternative Exercises
- FAQs About Seated Leg Curls
How To Do Seated Leg Curl
What You’ll Need:
Seated leg curls are typically performed in your local gym with a leg curl machine. However, you could also perform leg curls with a clear space and a flat surface. When it comes to the exercise’s other variations, you have to use alternative equipment such as;
- Leg Machine
In the absence of a leg machine, securing free weights between your feet can be an alternative.
- Resistance Bands (for weights-free and machine-free leg curls)
Step 1: Position Yourself in The Equipment
The starting position is going in front of the equipment and place your back against the pad and take a seat on the machine.
Step 2: Place Your Leg in The Lap Pad
Place your lower leg against the extended padded lever and adjust the lap pad so that your thighs are securely held in place. The lap padding should be placed between the knees and hips.
Step 3: Keep Your Legs Secured in The Padded Lever
While your toes are pointing forward, make sure your legs are securely levered in with the equipment but also completely stretched directly in front of you.
Step 4: Bring Your Legs Inward
Stretch your knees using only your hamstrings while keeping your core engaged; this should bring the padded lever inwards. Continue doing so until the machine is so far back that your feet end is practically touching the back of your thighs. Engage your core, glutes, and hamstrings during the eccentric and concentric phases.
Step 5: Keep Your Upper Body Stable
There should be no other motion apart from your legs during the exercise. Your upper body should remain in a straight line throughout the movement since doing so might result in lower back pain or hamstring strain.
Step 6: Squeeze, Hold and Repeat
As the muscles on your thighs contract, squeeze and hold for a few seconds before gently and controllably releasing back to the starting position. While keeping your calves resting, take deep breaths while performing the exercise. Complete at least 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
3 Seated Leg Curl Benefits
1. Improves Overall Leg Balance
Muscles frequently operate in groups. For instance, hamstrings with quads, calves with hamstrings, and glutes with hamstrings. They compliment each other when they function effectively together.
However, if one muscle is weak, it will have a negative impact on the other. This imbalance can result in life-threatening injuries such as muscle strains and ligament tears. And this is one of the benefits the SLC provides to improve health and overall balance in your body.
2. Achieve A More Athletic Body
Because hamstrings play an important part in the knee and hip extension, they are very necessary for running or any other high-intensity activity. For instance, jumping, kicking, skipping, and other activities need knee flexion and hip extension.
3. Can Prevent Injuries
Because the hamstrings are often weaker and much less developed than the quads, this can potentially lead to ACL ruptures and other serious injuries. The ACL is one of four knee ligaments and collaborates with the quadriceps and hamstrings.
Strengthening the hamstrings will enhance the quads and provide stability across the knee joint, preventing the ACL from being prone to rips and being too physically strained.
Common Seated Leg Curl Mistakes to Avoid
Lifting Too Much Weight
Another common seated hamstring curl error is trying to lift too much weight. If your calves are straining to control the action, you’re probably utilizing too much weight. With that in mind, only high-intensity training truly improves your hamstrings.
Rushing The Workout’s Motion
Speeding through the movement is one of the most common sitting leg curls mistakes. Many lifters curl the weight down and then rapidly spring it back up.
This mistake robs you of your advantages for two reasons. First, you remove the hamstring contraction at the bottom of each repetition, and you substantially minimize your duration under strain.
Not Enough Stimulus For The Muscles To Grow
Because the hamstrings are one of the biggest muscle groups in the body, they should be struck with much force. Make sure to perform a considerable number of routines, sets, and repetitions to activate the hamstring appropriately.
If you find yourself ignoring your hamstrings again, remember the priority principle. Next time you exercise your legs, start with your hamstrings so you can focus on them and expend the majority of your energy supplies for them.
Seated Leg Curl Muscles Worked
- Gluteus Maximus
- Adductor Magnus
- Bicep Femoris
It’s no wonder, given the name, that the sitting hamstring curl mostly exercises the hamstrings. The hamstring is made up of four muscles at the rear of your legs: the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. You should feel a significant contraction of these muscles throughout this workout.
While the seated hamstring curl is considered an isolation workout, it stimulates your calf muscles secondarily. The calves contract to trigger the curl at the start of the workout action. Additionally, your glutes and hip flexors contract to support your hamstrings.
Seated Leg Curl vs Lying Leg Curl
The lying leg curls have one distinct advantage: it engages one more muscle than the seated variant. Because your body is in the prone or seated position on a bench, the action of your lower leg during the workout is distinctive and activates the rectus femoris muscle, which is located at the front of your thigh.
The amount of effort required by this muscle is determined by the angle of the bench, with deeper angles needing less of this thigh muscle. Because the equipment is slightly inclined, the seated variation is a more natural position for many gym-goers. It may also be easier for an individual to concentrate on leg movement.
Unlike the latter, the sitting leg curls do not put any strain on your chest or torso, making it much simpler to maintain firm and steady with natural breathing as you keep your body in a straight line. This is especially crucial if you use heavier weights for your leg curls since your breathing pattern might impair your performance.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs:
To Build Hamstring Muscles
When it comes to strengthening hamstring muscles, make sure you use the proper tempo. You don’t have to move extremely slowly, but you should go slow enough to feel the muscle flex.
With that in mind, you could perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions at a 4-0-2-0 speed with half the weight you’re used to.
For Strength Training
Pick a good set weight that enables you to keep good form throughout all sets and repetitions. And you must maintain proper body forms as you lie face down on the leg curl machine, with your knees aligned with the axis of rotation of the machine.
Begin by performing 2–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions with a weight that you can handle, and gradually increase as you increase your strength.
Seated Leg Curl Variations
Nordic Hamstring Curl
Nordic Hamstring Curl differs from many others in that, rather than elevating and lowering your legs, you keep it stationary by locking it at the heels. While kneeling on the ground, a barbell is placed over your ankles.
The hamstring is targeted by bending forward at the knee and squeezing the muscles to sustain the forward motion. According to research, the Nordic hamstring curl increases athletic performance while also helping to avoid hamstring damage.
Lying Leg Curl
Lying Leg Curl exercises even more leg muscles, assisting in developing the shins and calves, and It will also be felt in your glute muscles. Firstly, lie on your back with the lap pad between your heel and calf muscles. Between lifts, totally straighten your lower legs as this will aid in the improvement of your hamstring’s range of motion.
Single-Leg Bridge Position
The single-leg bridge position is a variation of the glute bridge, and it is a great exercise for active individuals that stimulates your glutes and hamstrings in a great manner.
As you maintain the bridge position, concentrate on full hip extension, and it will guarantee that you get the most out of the action.
Standing Leg Curl
One advantage of performing a standing is that it can be performed without the use of a machine or weights. This bodyweight exercise is ideal for individuals who are unable to do a weighted version of the workout.
Gym Ball Leg Curl
The gym ball leg curl works the hamstrings as it specifically targets the knee flexion capability of the hamstrings.
Many lifters choose this exercise when they don’t have access to a laying leg curls machine, and only the gym ball is available. But it’s worth exploring even if you regularly perform machine curls.
Seated Leg Curl Alternatives
Hip extensions are a terrific glute and hamstring workout that is also practically simple. You may make the exercise more glute-focused or hamstring-focused by modifying it slightly.
Alternating Reverse Lunges
This exercise effectively takes your hamstrings through flexing and extension motions by bending the knee, similar to a seated leg curl. Because the primary force of the exercise comes from your rear leg, Reverse Lunges strike your hamstrings harder than regular forward Lunges.
The mind-muscle connection is everything, and this exercise provides you with the amount of control and stability required to establish this link.
Hamstring Walk Outs
Hamstring Walk Outs work your hamstrings by flexing both your hips and knees. If you’re susceptible to cramping, this may not be the best workout for you because it increases your hamstrings’ duration under stress.
Dumbbell Lying Leg Curls
The movement is identically replicated, but the resistance is applied differently, making it harder. This workout requires simply one dumbbell of proper weight to perform it correctly.
Sliding Leg Curls
Sliding leg curls are a fantastic alternative to sitting leg curls since they exercise your glutes and hamstrings. This machine-free leg curl uses your own body weight as resistance as you slowly slide in performing the workout, making it ideal for beginners or those rehabilitating from an injury.