Leg curls are a popular exercise for hamstrings, but they are not the only way to get strong hamstrings. There are plenty of leg curl alternatives that target the same muscle group and provide you with more flexibility.
Leg curl alternatives can be done with or without weights. They focus on different parts of the hamstring and give you a greater range of movement for your legs.
Leg curls can also put pressure on your lower back and damage it, in the long run, causing pain in the spine and low back region.
There are many leg curl alternatives that can be done at home to help strengthen your hamstrings.
One such example is doing toe raises with a straightened leg, which targets your toes, heel, calf, and hamstring all in one move!.
- 1 What is a Leg Curl and Why is it Important?
- 2 Leg Curl Alternatives: A List of the Best Ways to Target Your Hamstrings
- 3 3 Reasons Why You Should Do the Leg Curl Alternatives before Doing the Leg Curls
What is a Leg Curl and Why is it Important?
The leg curl is an isolation exercise that targets the hamstrings, or muscles at the back of your thighs.
The muscle group is usually forgotten about in workouts, but it’s critical to keep them strong for proper overall functioning.
Hamstring muscles are often neglected during workouts because people think they are only for running.
However, strengthening these muscles can help with many activities including walking upstairs or sitting comfortably in a chair.
Leg Curl Alternatives: A List of the Best Ways to Target Your Hamstrings
The hamstrings are made up of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris muscles. They are located on the back of your thigh, near the gluteal fold. There are three main ways to target these muscles:
1) Leg Curl exercises
Leg curl exercises are great for working the hamstrings because it puts them in a shortened position to exert maximum tension.
This exercise is especially good for people who have difficulty doing squats or who have back pain when doing squats because of their increased range of motion.
However, this exercise does not put a lot of tension on the glutes, which can make it difficult for people with weak glutes to get enough stimulation on them.
To perform the exercise the person sits in a one-legged position on an elevated bench with the knee bent at 90 degrees.
He then uses his glutes to lift both legs with his toes pointed toward the ceiling so that he can place one ankle on top of his other knee, hold it there for 2 seconds, and then return to the starting position.
This exercise can be performed with both legs or one leg at a time.
2) Glute-ham raises
Glute-ham raises are one of the best exercises for developing strong hamstrings, which are necessary for jumping, sprinting, and other powerful movements.
The glute-ham raise is a variation of the leg curl exercise that has been shown to have greater benefits than the leg curl exercise.
The main benefit of this exercise is that it strengthens the hamstrings better than the standard leg curl because it activates them more.
This exercise can be done on any flat surface with a little bit of padding. The glute-ham raise can also be done with no weight if you have an injury or are just starting out to build up your strength before adding weights.
3) Romanian deadlift
This exercise works your hamstrings because it focuses on lowering and lifting a weight.
The movement of this exercise resembles the movement your hamstring muscles go through when you walk.
One variation of Romanian Deadlifts that also targets the hamstrings is Split Squats.
In this variation, you place one foot in front of you and then lower down into a squat position with that one leg until both knees are bent at least 90 degrees before standing back.
4) Lying Leg Curl Machine
This is an isolation exercise where you’re working your hamstrings by lying on your back and pulling your feet towards your butt. It targets the hamstrings and glutes.
The lying leg curl machine is a popular machine for the hamstrings, but there are alternatives that are better for building your hamstrings.
One alternative is to use a standing cable knee extension. This machine has a cable attached to the frame, and it can be set at different heights. You can use it with both straight legs and bent knees.
The other alternative is to use a seated preacher curl machine. You can adjust this one to fit your height and then sit on the seat with your back on the pad.
5) Good Mornings
The good morning exercise is an isolation exercise that focuses on the glutes and hamstrings but also works the lower back, shoulders, chest, abdominals, and hip flexors.
It can be performed with or without weights, as it targets the posterior chain, which is essential for mobility, stability, and running form.
The good morning exercise is performed by bending forward at the waist until you feel the tension in the hamstrings. It is important to keep your back straight while performing this exercise.
The major benefit of this exercise is that it strengthens the hamstrings and provides stability to the spine. It also helps you achieve better posture, as it reduces pressure on the lower back by strengthening it.
6) Dumbbell Lunge
A dumbbell lunge is a great alternative to the leg curl. It is an effective exercise for strengthening the hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
Some people may not be able to perform this exercise because they suffer from knee issues.
If you are not sure if you can do this exercise or want to know more about how to perform it, please consult your physician before starting any exercise routine.
People with previous knee injuries should always consult their physicians before starting any new physical activity routine.
7) RDLs exercise
RDLs are a great alternative to the leg curl because they allow you to use heavier weights and they also engage your glutes and hamstrings at the same time.
An RDL is an exercise that involves performing a leg curl and then performing a reverse lunge. The traditional RDL, or Romanian Deadlift, begins with the weight on the ground and the lifter standing straight up.
The lifter then bends at the hips and knees, leaning forward at about a 45-degree angle to pick up the weight.
The person completes an RDL by lifting the weight to their lower ribs/upper stomach area while keeping their back in a neutral position.
They then return to starting position by pushing themselves back up with both legs without bending at their hips or knees.
8) Donkey Kicks exercise
Donkey kicks are a great way to target your hamstring muscles because it targets them from a different angle than most other exercises do.
A donkey kick is an alternative to the leg curl. The idea is the same, they both work your hamstrings, but they are performed differently.
For most people, it is more comfortable than doing a regular leg curl because it takes less pressure off the back of your neck and you don’t have to worry about touching your toes.
Additionally, there are several benefits to doing donkey kicks over regular curls – one being that it makes hamstring exercises easier on your knees by putting less pressure on them than if you were trying to touch your toes.
Another benefit is that this exercise doesn’t require any equipment – you just need some space and the ground!.
The exercise is done by standing with your back to a wall and kicking the ground behind you with your heels until your hips are at or past the wall.
Your knees should be bent and you should be leaning back as far as possible.
9) Hamstring Curls on an Exercise Ball
The hamstring curl on an exercise ball is a great alternative to the traditional hamstrings curl and can be done with no equipment.
There are many exercises that you can do on the exercise ball but the hamstring curl is one of the most effective.
The problem with these curls is that it can be difficult to maintain balance and stability due to the instability of the ball itself.
With an exercise ball, your feet are on a flat surface, your hips are above your toes, and you have a grip on both sides of the ball.
A hamstring curl is performed by placing one heel on the ball near the center of its surface and extending your hips so they are raised in the air while keeping your torso stationary.
As you bend your knee, you should feel a stretch along the back of your thigh.
You then straighten your leg to return to starting position, again feeling that stretch in your hamstring.
3 Reasons Why You Should Do the Leg Curl Alternatives before Doing the Leg Curls
1. Reduce muscle soreness
The alternative exercises you do before the leg curl should help to reduce muscle soreness in the back of your thigh, hamstrings, and lower back.
2. Improve core strength
This will help improve core strength without overworking the legs.
3. Increase range of motion
The alternatives for leg curls are great for increasing the range of motion in the hip flexors and hamstrings which are often tight because of tight hips.
The Leg Curl Alternatives allow you to work on areas that you need to improve without overworking them, they also provide a great way to work on your hips which can be hard with these intense workouts where your entire body is focused on one area at a time.
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