Hamstring Curls

Exercise / Hamstrings

How To Perform Hamstring Curls

Also known as lying leg curls, hamstring curls are a great way to target your hamstrings. Let us take a close look at how you perform them correctly.

Lie face down on the hamstring curl machine. You will want to have positioned the lever to suit your height. Once the lever is on the back of the legs, it should be resting just underneath your calves.  Your torso should be flat on the bench, your legs stretched out fully and your hands on the side handles. This is the start position.

From this position curl your legs upwards, ensuring your upper legs remain on the pad you are lying on. Once your hamstrings are fully contracted at the top, hold that contraction for a second, then lower back down to your start position.

Perform as many of these reps as your workout stipulates. Remember to breathe throughout the exercise. Exhale on the way up and inhale on the way down.

What not to do:

  • Bounce the weight off the rack for momentum
  • Lift your upper legs off the bench at the top

If it is possible, use a leg curl machine that has an angled bench to lie on as oppose to a straight one. This is better for hamstring muscle fibre recruitment.

CAUTION: Don’t swing and bounce the weight during your reps. You put yourself at risk of back, knee and hamstring injuries.

Exercise Tips

  • Focus on your contractions
  • Fully elongate the hamstring at the bottom
  • Maximize your contractions at the top
  • Breathing is important. Remember to do it.
  • Don’t put the lever pads too far down your legs

Hamstring Curl Variations

  1. Variation 1: Single Leg Curls. This variation is the same technique as above, except you will be using only one leg. The difference with this, is more isolation on the hamstring as you force the one leg to do the work. With two legs, the load is shared.
  2. Variation 2: Seated Hamstring Curls. This is done from a sitting position and curling your legs downwards. This variation is effective, but we feel more elongation can be achieved with the lying curls.