Leg Curls: Hamstring Development

Whether training for competition, for practical strength for sports, or just to look good, having strong legs is the foundation of your development. Without legs which match up, at best, you’ll look odd… at worst, you’ll be missing out on the huge amounts of power well developed legs can generate.

Again, whether you are training for leg size for show, for fun, or wanting strong legs for sports, balance is the key. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s all about the quads – the hamstrings are probably the most under worked area of the leg, and in this article we’ll explore how to develop them using leg curls.

How to do leg curls…

  1. Lie on your front on a leg curl machine, hooking your heals under the lifting lever, ensuring your legs are stretched to full length.
  2. Holding onto any levers provided underneath the bench or the bench itself to help you hold your entire body flat to the bench – including your chest, abs, and quads – and curl up your legs up as far as you can.
  3. Give a squeeze at the top.
  4. Lower the weight in a slow and controlled manner.

As you may expect, there are other ways to perform leg curls, such as using the standing lever leg curl machine, cables & pulleys, and seated leg curl machines which basically work as an inverted leg extension machine does.

In the leg curls I’ve explained, the key really is to keep your body – particularly your lower body – as flat as you can to the bench, moving only the lower leg, to keep only the hamstrings involved in the lift. Vince Gironda had his own unique way of doing these kinds of leg curls, in which he would hold his upper body up almost in a push up position, and lower it flat to the bench as the curling began, and reverse back up when lowering the weight.

Arnold Schwarzenegger also explains in his book a method which corresponds well with Gironda’s, saying he used to prop himself up with his elbows throughout to keep his lower body flat to the bench.

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