Of all the different variations of the hamstring curl, the hamstring curl with ball is one of the most effective for training your hamstrings.
Using a stability ball to elevate your legs and hips, this exercise will strengthen and stretch your hamstrings by engaging them as you roll the ball towards your body.
But before we get into the benefits, let’s talk about how to do it properly first.
Required equipment: Stability ball
- Lie on your back on the floor.
- Put your heels and calves on a stability ball which should be lying in front of your legs.
- Position your feet hip-width apart and flex the ankles.
- Place your hands on the floor, palms facing down.
- Push your hips upward until your entire body is straight.
- Tighten your glutes and your core.
- Slowly and with control, lift your hips and bend both knees.
- Pull your heels inwards, moving the stability ball towards your body until your feet touch it.
- Extending your knees, lower your hips to the floor. With that, you’ll have completed one rep.
- Do 12-15 reps.
For an added challenge, cross your arms on your chest or raise one leg so that the hamstrings get to work harder.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE HAMSTRING CURL WITH BALL WORK?
The hamstring curl with ball works all the hamstring muscles located at the back of your thigh, namely the semitendinosus, biceps femoris and semimembranosus.
These muscles work together to help bend your knees and move your thighs back. These functions help you jump, run and walk.
The glutes get a piece of the action too when you squeeze them right before lifting your hips and moving the ball towards your body so you can stretch your hamstrings.
You’ll also get a good stretch on your quadriceps with this exercise if you do it correctly.
HAMSTRING CURL WITH BALL BENEFITS
STRENGTHENS YOUR HAMSTRINGS AND GLUTES
During a hamstring curl with ball, you use the muscles on the back of your thigh to lift your lower leg.
This way, you engage your glutes and hamstrings, making them stronger and toning them.
STRETCHES YOUR QUADS
Aside from your hamstrings and glutes, the hamstring curl with ball also stretches your quadriceps, which can help alleviate back pain and reduce tightness in your thighs.
REDUCES RISK OF KNEE INJURY
Strong hamstrings will make you less prone to sustaining injury or developing pain on your knees.
This is because hamstrings that are strong and less developed are able to withstand the impact of exercise and they also stabilize your knees so that you don’t get hurt as you work out.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE HAMSTRING CURL WITH BALL
SEATED HAMSTRING CURL
The seated hamstring curl is a variation that you do while seated, and with the help of a resistance band to provide extra tension in your muscles.
In this exercise, you place the resistance band around your lower legs, which then forces your hamstrings to work harder to move your heels with resistance.
Here’s how to do it:
- Loop the ends of a resistance band to a solid object like a piece of furniture or an exercise machine.
- Sit in front of the object to which you have looped the band.
- Place the band around one of your heels, with your feet together.
- Bend your knee so you pull the heel back. Stop when you cannot pull the heel any further.
- Extend your knee to get back to the starting position.
- Do 12-15 reps before switching to the other leg.
HAMSTRING CURL WITH A DUMBBELL
The hamstring curl with a dumbbell is another alternative that works your hamstrings just as well as the hamstring curl with ball.
It uses a dumbbell to add resistance and challenge your hamstrings as you lift your lower legs.
If you are a beginner, it’s best you start with a light dumbbell then progress to a heavier weight as you get stronger.
- Lie down on the floor, with your back to the ceiling.
- Fold your arms in front of your body.
- Place a dumbbell between your feet.
- Using your feet only, pick the dumbbell up from the floor so that it is secured between the arches of your feet.
- Bend at the knees to curl the dumbbell towards your butt.
- Pause for a moment at the top.
- Return to the starting position.
- Do 12-15 reps.
If you don’t feel comfortable using a dumbbell, you can use ankle weights instead.
The Romanian deadlift is almost similar to the traditional deadlift, except that it focuses more on the hamstrings and uses less load.
How to do it:
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a barbell in front of you, using straps if you find it hard to grip properly.
- Start to lower the bar by pushing your hips back and bending slightly in your knees.
- Keep lowering until your upper body is parallel to the floor.
- Move the bar up by pushing your hips forward, to get back to the starting position.
For the Romanian deadlift, you should use a load that isn’t too heavy that it compromises your form or shifts the focus from your hamstring muscles.
HAMSTRING CURL WITH BALL MISTAKES TO AVOID
ARCHING YOUR LOWER BACK
It is important that you keep a neutral back as you perform the hamstring curl with ball.
Arching your lower back will prevent your hamstrings from working properly because it prompts your back to do all the work instead, which puts you at risk of developing back pain.
To avoid arching your lower back, tighten your abs to stabilize your spine and bend your knees to facilitate the movements.
MOVING TOO FAST
Slow and controlled movements are better than sudden, fast movements which can cause you injury in your muscles.
The hamstring muscles function as hip extensors and knee flexors.
Exercises that strengthen these muscles, such as the hamstring curl with ball, help improve your hip mobility, prevent knee injury and strengthen your quadriceps.
If you are not in a position to do this particular variation of the hamstring curl, the alternatives provided in this article can still help you work you hamstrings, glutes and quads just as effectively.
Lastly, if you have pain or injury in your legs, make sure you consult your doctor for clearance before trying out this exercise.