Leg curl exercise is a type of isolation exercise to tone the hamstrings and the calf muscles. It is an effective lower body workout during strength training. It is otherwise called a hamstring curl and requires a leg curl machine to perform effectively. But if you are looking for a workout at home, consider performing the same exercise with dumbbells. This exercise is popularly referred to as a lying leg curl because it is performed on the floor in a lying posture. Now you must be wondering how to perform a standard leg curl exercise at home or with a machine? Let us discuss. 

How to Do Leg Curls?

A classic leg curl exercise is done by lying with the face down on the machine and stretching the legs completely. Therefore, this is also known as a lying leg curl. The roller pad must be a few inches over the calves, a little above the heels. Hold the support handle on each side of the machine and exhale as you flex your knees. Gently pull the ankles close to your butt, having the hips firm. Hold for a few seconds and inhale as you return the feet to the starting position. Do it in a slow and controlled manner. There is one more exciting hack here. You can use your toes to target your calves. Engaging the hamstring by curling them towards the shin will help to isolate the calf muscles effectively.

Types Of Leg Curl Variations

1. Seated Leg Curl

A seated leg curl is a variation that is ideal for people with lower back and neck aches. The main advantage of this exercise is that it prevents you from lifting your legs during the curl move. While doing this, ensure that the thigh pads rest just above the knees and the lower leg pads are directly placed below the calves. The machine handles are on either side, and you can hold them for support. Start doing a seated leg curl variation by pushing the lower leg pad downwards. As you do this, pull them close to your butt. Hold it in this position for a few seconds and then return to the start.

2. Standing Leg Curl

Standing leg curl is an ideal workout for beginners. This can be effectively performed as a leg curl exercise at home as it does not require a machine for performing. A standing leg curl requires very little hamstring strength as no weights are involved. Start doing this by standing with the feet as wide apart as the hip. Then shift the weight onto one leg by bending the other knee. Bring one foot closer to the butt and then lower it down. Perform the same on the other side.

3. Banded Leg Curl

It is called a banded leg curl exercise when you add a resistance band to your leg curl workout. It is one way to build more strength in the hamstrings and calves. You can start performing with a resistance band just above the ankles when you don't have access to a gym. Then lift your foot against your resistance. A banded leg curl exercise will help to increase the intensity of the workout.

4. Russian Leg Curl

A Russian leg curl exercise is also known as the Nordic hamstring curl. This exercise is quite different from the remaining leg curl variations. Do you know why? Instead of having your body stationary in every exercise, you will be moving the entire body here with the lower leg stationary. Therefore, there is a reduced risk for any hamstring injury. Start doing a Russian leg curl by kneeling on the floor and having the ankles under an immovable heavy object. Then lean forwards, and you will require more control and core muscle strength here.

What Are the Benefits of Leg Curl?

The benefits of leg curls are as follows:

  1. It activates the butt, thigh, and front shin muscles effectively.
  2. Leg curls target both hamstrings and calf muscles, thereby making you strong and flexible.
  3. It improves your overall strength, stamina, and balance.
  4. As the hamstrings are made strong, you will perform better at sports, especially while doing sprint-based training.
  5. A strong hamstring will help lower your risk of injury while performing everyday activities.
  6. It postpones the knee, back, and joint problems as you age.

Precautionary Measures To Be Taken While Performing Leg Curls

Leg curls are used extensively by bodybuilders to increase their muscle mass. But fitness professionals and athletes refrain from performing them as it tightens the hamstring during certain circumstances. So, some of the precautionary measures to be taken while practicing leg curls are:

  1. When overtraining, please do not fail to stretch correctly. This can impair hamstring flexibility.
  2. Repeated contractions will lead to permanent impairment. Therefore, take sufficient recovery periods to heal the hamstrings if they get injured.
  3. Always stretch after every workout.
  4. If you have had a recent surgery or injury on your back, spine, or neck, do not perform it until you completely recover.
  5. If you have instability in your knee, kindly refrain from doing it.
  6. Hip surgery, torn ligaments in the joints, and conditions like ACL should never perform it with increased intensity.
  7. If you have any other problems not mentioned here but still have a doubt, always consult your physician and then go ahead with the training.


Now that you know everything about leg curls, gain more comprehensive knowledge of the common mistakes. Take care not to place the leg pad too high as it will put unwanted pressure on the Achilles tendon, thereby restricting your range of motion. So, please take guidance from an experienced fitness instructor or trainer to teach you the correct position and proceed accordingly. Another significant aspect is to properly execute the leg curl with the proper weights that will suit you. Do not overdo and force your body as any wrong move will cause a back injury and restrict your entire fitness journey.

Mind your goal and work accordingly. Suppose you aim to build mass muscle, start with lesser weights and then go up the ladder. However, if you want to increase performance and power, always maintain low weights. Good luck with you!

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July 1, 2022

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