The standing hamstring curl, also known as the leg curl, is a single-joint isolation workout that primarily targets the hamstring and calf muscles.
It can be performed in many different positions and can be an excellent addition to lower limb hypertrophy training. It also works the core, lower back and other synergist muscles.
Perform this exercise using a knee pad to help you keep stable on top of the machine.
Also known as: Standing Leg Curls
Targeted Muscles: Hamstrings, Calves
Required Equipment: Cable Machine
Exercise Type: Strength
Exercise Mechanics: Isolation
Force Type: Push
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
- Set the cable machine by attaching an ankle strap to the low pulley. Place the weight on the stack.
- Put a step or a block that you can stand on to help you perform with a better range of motion.
- Place the strap on your left ankle. Step on the block with your right foot, and hang your left foot on the side.
- Bend your knee slightly and hold the machine with your hands for stability. This will be your starting position.
- Lift your foot as high as you comfortably can and take a slight pause. Contract your hamstrings.
- Bring the weight back slowly to resume the starting position.
- Repeat with your leg.
- Aim for 3 sets of 12 reps. Use a weight that allows you to maintain the correct technique throughout the workout.
- Try maintaining a stationary position throughout the movement. Ensure you only move the knee joint of the active leg. Use an appropriate weight that will let you finish the workout without jerking.
- Control the weight as you move it up and down. Do not drop the weight on the stack.
- Contract your hamstring and pause at the top of the rep to add intensity.
MUSCLES WORKED BY THE STANDING HAMSTRING CURL
The standing hamstring curls work the hamstrings since this muscle group contacts to allow the knee to bend. The hamstring muscle consists of three muscles- the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. The biceps femoris is the biggest of them all.
Using the machine, the quadriceps are made up of the rectus femoris, the vastus lateralis, the vastus intermedius and the vastus medialis. The rectus femoris is the most trained when you work out.
The calf muscles are worked as well. The calf muscle comprises two muscles -the soleus and the gastrocnemius.
The most worked one is the gastrocnemius since it cuts across the hind knee and aids the bending of the hamstrings when using the cable machine.
BENEFITS OF THE STANDING HAMSTRING CURL
RELIEVES KNEE PAIN
One known benefit of the standing hamstring curl is that they help alleviate knee pain.
This hypertrophy exercise strengthens the hamstring, improving knee and pelvis stability. This exercise works the knee alignment and significantly reduces the risk of injury when you engage in other activities or exercises.
EVENS OUT MUSCLE IMBALANCES
There are many day-to-day activities that we engage in that work the body from the front- like mowing the lawn or jogging.
Solely these workouts can make your anterior chain stronger than your posterior chain. These imbalances can result in back pain and poor posture.
Working your hamstrings and lower back can help alleviate back pressure. When your muscles are balanced, the body should engage them to perform regular activities and exercises instead of your lower back.
WARM-UP DRILL FOR OTHER WORKOUTS
Exercises like deadlifts and hip thrusts need enormous power and strength. The standing hamstring curl plays a crucial role in generating power in other workouts performed at the gym.
When you isolate your hamstrings, the standing hamstring curls can improve your strength for complex lifts. Strong hamstrings are essential for building power for plyometric movements if you want to perform cardio-based workouts.
ALTERNATIVES TO STANDING HAMSTRING CURL
STIFF LEG DEADLIFT
Required Equipment: Barbell
- Assume a hip-width stance and grab a barbell using an overhand grip. Flex your knees a bit and keep the flexion throughout the workout.
- Starting from your hip joint, bend and bring down the barbell. Ensure your back is straight. Bend until you feel the tension in your hamstrings. Pause and hold this position for a few seconds, then resume your starting position slowly and controlled.
- Aim for 3-4 sets of 10-25 reps.
- You can use dumbbells to mimic this exact technique to perform.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN PERFORMING THE STANDING HAMSTRING CURL
Get the most benefits out of this workout and prevent injuries by avoiding these mistakes
PLACING THE LEG PAD TOO HIGH
When you place the leg pad lever at a higher point of your calf, the pressure will increase in your tendons and reduce your range of motion.
If you are a beginner, consider working with a certified physiotherapist or a fitness instructor to teach you the correct technique and assist you with adjusting the leg pad.
NOT USING THE RIGHT WEIGHT
To execute the standing hamstring curl properly, always begin with lightweight. You don’t want to push your body to overwork by lifting the hips and flexing your spine.
Doing this may not isolate the hamstring and can pose the risk of back and spinal injuries.
Use a weight that will enable you to perform the recommended sets of reps comfortably.
If you want to build muscle mass, add the weight you use as you advance your fitness level.
However, do not load too much weight if your goal is to improve strength and performance. Overworking your body does not guarantee results.
The standing hamstring curl is a hypertrophy workout that allows you to focus on your hamstrings. Be sure to use ankle or knee pads to help you stay balanced as you do the exercise.
Adjust the cable machine with a lot of care so that it suits you such that you perform the workout comfortably. The key focus is aligning the machine joint with your knees.
Avoid this exercise entirely if you have existing leg problems because it can aggravate them. Avoid this exercise if:
- You recently had hip surgery.
- There is an existing knee problem.
- You are recovering from a back, spinal or neck injury.
- You have ruptured ligaments in your ankle/ knees.
Commit to being fit.