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Hamstring Exercises - Leg Curls

Exercise Name: Leg Curls

Purpose: Develop the hamstrings (back of the leg).

Target Muscle Group(s): The primary muscle group being targeted is the rear of the thigh or hamstring muscles (biceps femoris, longhead; biceps femoris, short head; semitendinosus; and semimembranosus).

Secondary muscles being targeted in this exercise are the buttock muscles (gluteus maximus) and calf muscle (gastrocnemius).

leg curls

Instructions on How To Perform Leg Curls:

1. Lie facedown on the hamstring curl machine.
2. Adjust the ankle pads so that your ankles are positioned underneath the ankle pads.
3. Hold the handles, or the bench itself, to prevent yourself from lifting off the bench as you perform the exercise.
4. Curl your legs until the ankle pads touch your buttocks.
5. Contract your hamstrings at the top of the movement. Point your toes for maximum contraction of the hamstrings.
6. Lower the weight back to the original position.

Instruction Comments:

1. As you curl the weight towards your hamstrings exhale, inhale as you lower the weight towards the original position.
2. Pointing your toes intensifies the contraction in the hamstrings. Alternatively, flexing the feet will include the calf muscle in the exercise.

Also Known As: Lying Leg Curls, Hamstring Curls
Exercise Type: Building Muscle, Strength Training, Toning, Sports Training
Force: Pull
Exercise Level: Beginner
Mechanics Type: Isolation Exercise

Leg Curl Variations: Alternating one leg at a time; doing this exercise lying on a flat bench and placing a dumbbell in between your feet; standing leg curl machine; seated leg curl

Safety Precautions:

1. Be careful not to use a weight so heavy that you end up swing your body up and down for momentum. This could cause injury to your hamstring and back. It's common for leg curl injuries to occur at the beginning of the movement where the legs are extended and the hamstrings are stretched. Usually the tear to the hamstring muscle tissue is not severe. To prevent hamstring tears be sure to stretch in between sets.

If injury does occur, fibrous scarring could develop in the site of the muscle tear leading to pain and discomfort while playing sports. To prevent this you should gently stretch the hamstring a week after the tear. This light stretching will train the scar tissue to become more flexible, thus preventing future tears to the injured area.

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