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January 10, 2022 5 min read

Your lower body is made up of several big muscles to help you lift heavier, run faster, and simply be able to function. One of these big muscles, helping make up the posterior chain, is the hamstrings.

They're located in the back of your leg and are composed of three muscles, the biceps femoris, the semimembranosus, and the semitendinosus. Together, they help you bend your knees and hinge at your hips. Activities that require sprinting or jumping can be improved by strengthening the hamstring muscles, and the lying leg curl is an effective way to do it.

The lying leg curl isn't just for bodybuilders trying to build muscle, it can be helpful for athletes of all fitness levels as it helps to isolate your hamstrings without letting your quads or glutes overcompensate for any imbalances.

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The Importance of the Lying Leg Curl Machine  

You may have heard of, or experienced yourself, athletes having 'quad dominance'. This term means that the quadriceps are stronger than hamstrings and it can cause imbalances in the anterior and posterior of the body, putting you at a greater risk of injury and less efficient workouts.

You may have seen this machine in the gym and thought, what kind of exercise makes you lie down? There are different variations to the lying leg curl, like the seated leg curl and resistance band or dumbbell hamstring curl.

Using the lying curl machine can help control your movement and help your hamstrings move through a greater range of motion. Ultimately, this can help improve daily function, stability, and injury prevention.

How to Use the Lying Leg Curl Machine for Max Results

Benefits of the Lying Leg Curl Machine   

As simple as it may seem, the lying leg curl is harder than it looks. Like with any exercise, the benefits are worth the burn. 

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Injury Prevention

Hamstring injuries are the most common in sports where sprinting is involved, such as football or track. This may be due to their composition because type II or fast-twitch muscle fibers are typically more susceptible to injury.

Depending on the severity, hamstring injuries could put an athlete out for quite some time. 

In order to help prevent hamstring strains, an athlete must not only strengthen the hamstrings but improve their stability. More stability of the hamstrings can contribute to more support for the knees and ankles.

Hamstring Mass

Often, you can find bodybuilders performing more isolation exercises because they allow you to build on one specific area of the body. While compound exercises are good for body strength, isolation exercises are good for body mass.

This is due to the muscles not being able to rely on other factors, like momentum from power movements or contributing muscles from compound exercises. 

Improved Flexibility  

Without flexible hamstrings, the risk of poor posture, injury, and back pain can be increased. The lying leg curl allows your hamstrings to achieve a greater range of motion through knee flexion.

More range of motion can help recruit more muscle fibers, and it can also help improve flexibility.

Although this exercise alone cannot cure inflexibility, with the help of stretching and proper recovery, it can certainly help. Increasing your flexibility can help improve your lunge and squat range of motion, as well as better mobility in everyday life.

Improved Joints 

The movement pattern of the lying leg curl requires knee flexion and knee extension, which are movements you perform daily and in exercise. Repeatedly performing these movements under load, safely, and properly helps to keep the knee joints moving and healthy.

The motion itself is also low-impact and easier on the joints than say running or jumping motions are. 

Lying Leg Curl

How to do the Lying Leg Curl Machine 

Knowing how to use gym equipment is essential for a productive workout. If you're unsure, consult with an experienced personal trainer. In the meantime, check out our how-to guide below.   

IMPORTANT: To ensure proper technique, align the point of rotation on the machine directly with your knees to have a smooth and secure fit.

  1. Position the working arm of the machine to press against the middle of the calf or slightly below and the angle adjustment to be less than 180 degrees when lying face down.
  2. Lying on the machine, you will keep your hips firmly pressed inward to squeeze the pad into the glutes for maximum contraction of the hamstring. Place hands on the side handle provided, or around the edge of the bench.
  3. When you exhale, curl your legs up as far as you can, while maintaining a squeezed glute form (not having an arched back).
  4. When you inhale, slowly lower the legs to a start position giving the negative a serious emphasis.

Tips for Max Results 

Understanding the proper form in any exercise is crucial, and following our how-to guide can help.

Below are even more tips and tricks to help achieve max results: 

  1. As stated, perform slow and controlled reps. This can help increase the efficiency of the exercise, as well as help create a mind-muscle connection. To really feel the burn, hold the top, contracted position for three seconds before lowering again.  
  2. Your calf muscles also help flex the knee, so they can sometimes get in the way of isolating the hamstrings. In order to get the most for your hamstrings and omit the gastrocnemius muscle, point your toes. 
  3. A mistake lifters often make is going too heavy with the weight. This can ensure injury or limit range of motion. Lighten the weight to ensure you're achieving a full range of motion, which will help recruit the hamstrings more. 

Programming Recommendations for the Lying Leg Curl Machine

Although there are different hamstring exercises, the lying leg curl can provide better hamstring recruitment because of the position and range of motion. Since this muscle group is highly activated, you don't need to do this exercise every day. In fact, one or two times a week would be sufficient to help avoid overtraining.

Think about performing this isolation exercise before your compound ones like the deadlift or squat.

This will help target one area without it being too fatigued. An exercise like the lying leg curl is different from barbell exercises for a couple of different reasons, one of which being the weight lifted won't be nearly as much. There's always a place for lighter weights and more reps, especially when you have a goal of building muscle mass. 

Performing three sets of 10-12 reps once or twice a week consistently and alongside your other strength training can help build strength and stability in your hamstrings. 

Curl Your Way to Better Hamstrings 

Adding variety into your workouts will not only help prevent plateaus, but it can also keep you interested in going to the gym. A perfect mix of isolation and compound exercises, and the right workout split can get you closer to your goals, whether that's building mass, strength, or health. 

Whether you're an athlete, gym rat, or both, the lying leg curl can be a beneficial addition. Don't forget to get enough of the proper nutrition and recovery, so your muscles have the ability to repair and grow. Curl your way to better hamstrings and a stronger, more stable lower body.  

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