Do you know you can do leg curl exercises at the convenience of your home?
Leg curl machines are mostly accessed at the gym because they’re bulky in nature, and the cost of buying them is quite high.
However, if you are an introvert who doesn’t like crowded places like gyms or you want to avoid long queues at the gym, we’ve got your back!
This article gives an insight into the best leg curl alternatives at home that will target both your hamstrings, glutes, and core the way leg curl machine does.
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Also, despite saving you lots of cash used in gym memberships, these alternatives will help build your lower body strength, tone your legs and maintain a balanced posture necessary for your mobility.
LEG CURL ALTERNATIVES AT HOME
1. DONKEY KICKS
If you want to feel the burn in your hamstrings, incorporate donkey kicks workouts to be your best buddy! You only need a working mat and your effort, and you’re set to go.
Donkey kicks, also known as quadruped bent-knee hip extension, targets the muscles in your glutes, hamstrings, and core in a way no other leg alternative at home does.
Try these donkey kicks variation workouts if you want to take your workouts to a top-notch level. But first, make sure you’re absolutely comfortable with the standardized donkey kicks before graduating to the above-recommended variation workouts.
Tip: When doing this workout, ensure your back is straight (not sagging) and let your glutes do most of the work.
2. REVERSE LUNGES
When making reverse lunges, your hamstrings flex and undergo extension in the process of bending your knees. When reversing your lunges, the force engaging your hamstrings reverses back to your legs, making them stronger and more stable.
Tip: If you want to target your muscles differently for maximum benefit, hold a dumbbell in your hand for additional resistance.
3. GOOD MORNINGS
Wondering where this exercise got this name from? Worry no more! When you do this exercise, the movement of the erector spinae (muscles in your lower back) mimics the exact movement you make when you rise out of bed to stretch hence the name.
Good mornings work your core, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus the way leg curls machines do, making it a viable leg alternative at home.
Tip: Ensure your knees are straight to stretch more of your hamstring muscles. You can also use a barbel when doing this workout for maximum benefits.
The bridge is a simple yet effective exercise to work out your lower body yielding stability in the process.
This is a great exercise that targets the hamstring, glute, quad, and lower back, making it one of the best leg curl alternatives at home.
To make bridges more challenging, you can put weights on your stomach or do a single-leg hamstring bridge.
Tip: Make sure you squeeze your glutes when lifting your hips off the mat when doing this exercise.
5. DUMBBELL LEG CURLS
Dumbbell leg curls mimic the leg curl machine’s exact movement by exerting pressure on your legs using the dumbbell, making it one of the most amazing yet efficient leg curl alternatives at home.
To do this exercise at home, lie down on the floor with your stomach facing down and place a dumbbell between your feet while ensuring it’s stable to avoid injuries. Bend your knees slowly while raising your feet. Aim for 90 degrees angle, then slowly lower your feet back to the ground.
Do 10 to 15 dumbbell leg curls to realize maximum results.
6. STABILITY BALL HAMSTRING CURLS
If you have an exercise ball at home, this is the best leg alternative at home to work out your hamstrings, lower back, and core in a way no other exercise does.
Lie down on your back with the arms lying on the floor and the palms facing down to do this exercise. Rest your feet, ankles, and the lower part of your leg on the stability ball.
Push your hips while curling the stability ball towards you. Bend your knees in the process while pushing your hips upwards.
Hold yourself on top for a while and return to the starting position when your legs are straight. Repeat the same process several times until you feel you are worked up.
7. BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUATS
To do a Bulgarian split squat, you need a bench from which you’ll elevate your back leg.
This workout challenges your hamstrings real hard and gives your lower-back body strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness.
Bulgarian split squats place greater strength on your quadriceps than many other lower body workouts making it a commonly used leg alternative at home.
Because this exercise requires you to have balance and coordination, your core and upper body are engaged, leading to an upright posture.
Tip: You can use the dumbbell to add resistance to your body leading to effective results.
8. SLIDING LEG CURLS
Sliding leg curls is the easiest leg alternative at home as you only require a cloth or footpads to slide your feet over while engaging the hamstrings. This workout is viable as it imitates the mechanism of a leg curl machine.
To do this exercise, lie down on the floor with your back. Extend your legs and put your heel on the pads or any appropriate cloth. Push your hips off the ground, only leaving behind your upper back.
Engage your hamstrings while curling your toes towards your hips.
Tip: To make this exercise more effective, you can slide one leg at a time alternating between them instead of both legs at the same time.
9. HAMSTRINGS WALKOUTS
When doing this workout, you get to flex both your knees and hips, targeting your hamstrings in the process.
Hamstring walkouts mimic the exact movement of bridge exercise. The only difference is that while you’re on the ground, engage your heels to take small steps farther away from the body until both of your legs are almost straight. Walk backward again on your heels until you reach starting position.
Then repeat the same process 10 to 12 times.
10. SUMO SQUAT
Sumo squat is the best leg curl alternatives as it engages not only your inner thigh muscles but also your quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves.
You can either use your body weight to do this exercise or use weights from dumbbells and kettlebells to give you extra resistance hence effective results.
When doing the sumo squat, put the weights over or in front of your shoulders or hold the weight with both your hands and hang it between your legs.
If weights are hard to incorporate, put a resistance band around your legs but above the knees to engage more of your lower body muscles.
Tip: make sure you don’t bend your knees inwards. Your heels should also remain flat on the ground when doing a sumo squat.
ARE LYING LEG CURL BAD FOR KNEES?
According to RDLFitness, the lying leg curl destabilizes the functionality of the knees. This is because it prevents forces from the front and back which hold the tendons and ligaments, consequently leading to knee injuries.
The research also reports that the distance usually placed between your ankle and the knees is very long, maximizing shearing forces. This may harm your knees.
ARE LEG CURLS A WASTE OF TIME?
According to Runner’s world, the lying leg curl machine is a waste of time as it doesn’t engage your core muscles. Besides, your muscles are not activated to the fullest.
Barnes recommends single deadlift instead of leg curls machines as it activates muscles in your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. The single deadlift also challenges your core muscles, unlike lying leg curls.
According to Stack’s research, traditional leg curls are a waste of time for athletes as their functional movements are so limited. They don’t engage more of your body muscles like other workouts.
All of the above-mentioned leg curl alternatives at home will get you effective results on your hamstrings, core, calves, and lower back the same way leg curl machines do.
You don’t have to incorporate all the workouts at once. Choose three of the above based on your preference and convenience and make them part of your lifestyle.
Eventually, your lower body will gain strength and stability.