Fitness level: Beginner, advanced, experienced
Type of training: Machine exercises
Leg curl is a popular exercise for the backside of the thigh. Many variations also work out the lower back and the butt very intensely. We can train in lying, kneeling, sitting, and standing position on machines or just with our own body weight. This article will explain the leg curl versions on the machine. To learn about the free variations without machine please read the article back leg lifts.
Leg curl lying
Lying leg curls shouldn’t necessarily be practised by complete beginners. We start in prone position. The knees are slightly below the cushion of the machine. Adjust the machine to have the cushion for the resistance as far back toward the heels as possible. Working out with stretched knee joints is uncomfortable. If possible, choose an adjustment that allows you to start with slightly bent knees.
From that position lift your thighs from the cushion and start to bend and stretch your knees against the resistance. Please never stretch you knees maximally. To intensify the exercise keep your thighs raised maximally and your knees slightly bend. Performing small impulses from that position makes the training even more intense.
Leg curls can also be performed one-legged. Here, we move to one side of the cushion and place one leg on the side (lunge position). This erects the pelvis what keeps us from developing a hollow back. Especially the workout with lifted thighs makes the lying leg curl extremely intense for the thigh backside, the butt, and the lower back. But please be careful with your lower back. It could be helpful to strengthen the muscles of the lower back in several sessions with easier exercises before moving to this exercise. Otherwise leave the thighs on the cushion.
Leg curl sitting
Sitting leg curls can be performed by all training levels. Adjust the leg curl machine to have the back rest sit tightly on your back. If there is a fixation cushion for your upper thighs you should use it to fixate your legs from above. Your knees should be in one line with the rotation axis of the machine. We start the movement with slightly bent knee joints. Tense the abdominal muscles and bend your knees maximally in a controlled movement. Bring your legs back up again smoothly but don’t stretch your knees maximally. This leg curl version can also be practised one-legged.
Leg curl standing
The standing leg curl can be performed by advanced and experienced sportsmen and -women. Work out on the cable machine at the gym using a foot loop around the ankle joint. Stand straight on the machine holding on to the handles to stabilize your body. The training leg pulls backward in a slightly bent knee position. This version focuses on the muscles of the lower back and the butt and is less effective for the thigh backside. The activation of the backside of the thigh should increase the more you bend your knee. This could get a little tricky since we work out completely free without any leg fixation. When you work out standing leg curls it is important to avoid a hollow back. Tense your abs and keep the pelvis erected.
There also exists a machine especially for the standing leg curl what provides cushions for the training leg to achieve more stability.