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The Leg Curl Exercise for the Hamstrings/Thighs

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Leg Curls
Home -> Advanced Training -> Exercise Technique -> Leg Curls

Primary Movers:
Hamstrings - Biceps Femoris, Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus

Secondary Movers:
Gluteals, Calves

Anatomy of the Hamstrings

Click the Professor to review the anatomy of the Hamstrings.

The Leg Curl exercise is the most common hamstring exercise you will see in the gym, though the hamstrings are actually one of the most neglected parts on the body (this may be because you can't see them in the mirror).

How to do it:

  • Lie face down on a Leg Curl machine, chest flat on it and hands gripping on the handgrips.
  • The back of your ankles should be against the pads and your knees should be in line with the rotating cam of the machine.
  • Curl your legs up, keeping your hips down against the bench.
  • Squeeze at the top then lower slowly back down.
  • Do not use momentum to swing the weight up as this will reduce the effectiveness of the exercise
Bottom position of the leg curl exercise

Top position of the leg curl exercise
  • Do not allow your hips to come up off the bench as you curl up. This takes tension on the hamstrings and can place it on the lower back and glutes.
  • A good Leg Curl machine will not have a flat bench but will be bent slightly. You can accomplish this on a flat-benched machine by placing a towel under your hips.


  • Begin the motion by first (keeping your legs perfectly stiff and straight) lifting your thighs slightly off the bench solely with the glutes, extending at the hip.
  • This action will force your pelvis against the bench and will prevent your butt from coming up off the bench, which reduces tension on the hamstrings.

Common Errors:

  • The glutes come up during the exercise - this takes some of the tension off the hamstrings, using the glutes to assist. This can place undue pressure on the lower back and reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Using the trick listed or having a partner hold your hips down can help. Using too much weight can force you to have to lift your glutes. If this is the case, reduce the weight and concentrate on keeping your hips down.


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