Coach spends a lot of time praising functional exercises, and for good reason: functional training hits multiple muscle groups and joints, and strengthens your body in a way that will benefit you when playing sports and going about your everyday life. But don’t take our praise of functional fitness as condemnation of isolation exercises like the leg curl, which do a stand-up job of targeting individual muscles in a way that functional moves cannot.
You can do the leg curl in a prone or seated position, with both exercises requiring the use of a machine. Whether you do it lying or sitting down the benefits are broadly the same – the leg curl is one of the best ways to strengthen and bulk up your hamstrings.
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How To Do The Lying Leg Curl
Start by adjusting the machine so your thighs and torso sit comfortably on the pads when you’re lying face down. The lever on the back of the machine should sit just below your calf muscles when your legs are straight. Grasp the handles on the front of the machine and brace yourself – it’s time to curl.
Curl your lower legs up as far as possible without lifting your thighs off the pad. Hold for a second at the top of the movement, then lower slowly back to the start. Keep your movements smooth throughout – if you’re having to resort to jerky movements to shift the weight, you’re using too much.
How To Do The Seated Leg Curl
Set up the machine so that the pads sit comfortably against your lower back when you sit on it. Put your legs on the padded lever so it sits just below your calf muscles, and set up the lap pad so it sits on your thighs just above the knees. Lift your legs so they are straight out in front of you and grasp the side handles on the machine. Pull the padded lever down and back towards you as far as you can with your legs, hold for a second, then slowly bring it back to the starting position.