The seated leg curl is also known as the seated hamstring curl. It is a great exercise for isolating, strengthening, and building size in your hamstrings.
The hamstrings are one of the posterior muscles that are found in between the hip and the knee. They contribute to muscular stability and symmetry, athletic movements and performance, and other key bodily functionalities.
Therefore, the seated leg curl will not only strengthen your lower body but also prevent you from risking injury and boost your performance while doing other movements.
The seated leg curl is preferred to its standing counterpart because it is convenient if you have lower or neck pain. Also, the machine is designed to prevent you from lifting your legs during the curling movement.
HOW TO DO SEATED LEG CURL
Here is a step-by-step procedure of how to do the exercise.
- Start in a seated position with your back comfortably leaning against the machine’s pad.
- Place your lower legs against the lower pad of the extended lever and properly adjust it to secure your legs in position.
- Ensure your legs are comfortably levered with the machine and fully extended right in front of you. Also, your toes should be pointed forwards.
- Exhale and flex your knees using your hamstrings only to pull the lever inwards. Continue flexing until the machine almost hits the back of your thighs.
- Ensure that your upper body is maintained in a stationary position throughout the movement. Only your legs should be moving.
- You should feel the contraction at the thigh muscles. Squeeze the hamstring and pause for a few seconds to absorb the tension.
- Afterwards, inhale and slowly return back to the staring position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
SEATED LEG CURL MUSCLES ENGAGED
The primarily targeted muscles in this isolation exercise are the hamstrings. They comprise of four muscles which are: the biceps femoris, the long and short head, semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus
Even though the seated hamstring curl is a type of isolation exercise, it secondarily works your calves. It is the calves that contract to initiate the actual curl at the beginning of the movement.
Additionally, other muscles which are activated to support the hamstrings are the glutes and the hip flexors.
SEATED LEG CURL BENEFITS
BIGGER AND STRONGER HAMSTRINGS
The result will be bigger hamstrings as it improves hamstring hypertrophy. As an addition to a well-defined lower body, your performance in exercises like the deadlift and barbell squat will be improved.
REDUCED RISK OF INJURY
It is quite common to injure your hamstrings. Unfortunately, they take weeks to heal and this can derail your overall fitness progress.
Not to worry, this exercise can increase the stability of your hamstrings and also, improve the connection between the lower body and mind muscles. However, this is on condition that you use the correct form.
There are only a few muscles that isolate the hamstrings quite as well as the seated leg curl. Most lower body exercises are compound exercises that just recruit hamstrings.
If you want to specifically work on a certain muscle group like the hamstrings, then an isolation exercise like the seated leg curl is your go to. Such an instance can be when your quads are larger than your hamstrings and you want to correct this muscle imbalance.
By strengthening the hamstrings, they will improve the stabilization of your hip joints. Thus, keeping your spine straight and firmly aligned.
Hamstrings are essential in knee flexion and hip extension. These are key in motions like running motion, jumping, kicking, skipping and more.
SEATED LEG CURL ALTERNATIVES
The Romanian deadlift is also referred to as the straight-legged deadlift. It focuses on the hamstrings while other deadlifts focus on the lower back.
During the performance of the movement, it is important to note that your back should remain aligned and the torso should do all the bending. Your legs should remain still all through the lowering and lifting of the weights.
GYM BALL LEG CURL
The gym ball leg curl is a variation that aims to engage the core more in the leg curl. For its performance, start by lying on your back with your calves resting on a gym ball.
Now, steadily raise your hip and use your feet to roll the ball towards you. Then roll it away from you again and repeat.
NORDIC HAMSTRING CURL
The nordic hamstring curl is an interesting and challenging exercise at the same time. Start by getting on both knees with your back straight.
Have someone hold your ankles in place or you could secure them on an equipment. Ensure your hamstrings, glutes, and abs are tightened.
With your back straightened, lean forward slowly until you reach the floor. Squeeze your hamstrings to lift yourself back up to the initial position.
SEATED LEG CURL MISTAKES TI AVOID
RUSHING THE MOTION
Do not rush the exercise by curling down the weight and letting it quickly spring back up. This is wrong on two levels.
First, your hamstrings will not contract at the bottom of each rep. Second, your hamstrings will not be put under tension for the required time.
Even though the concentric portion of the exercise is emphasized, you should not ignore the eccentric portion.
Ensure you return back to the starting position slowly and under control for optimal results.
USING TOO MUCH WEIGHT
Do not lift too much weight such that you feel your calves straining to dominate the movement. Remember that the exercise is not really a lifting movement like lunges or squats.
Therefore, lifting too much eight almost immediately could be risky. Besides, hamstrings respond better to high volume training.
Ensure you first begin with lighter weights as you work your way to heavier weights eventually. Always pay attention to control and volume.
This isolation exercise is used by bodybuilders to increase muscle mass. It is great for sculpting a well-defined lower body.
Essentially, always use proper technique because hamstring injuries are very common and they take time to heal.