How to: LYING LEG CURL (video)

In this tutorial, we will go over the target muscle, setup, form, and more for the lying hamstring curl. For more workout tips, tricks, and information, follow me on Instagram @daniellehamlin or visit the Exercise Library​ :) Enjoy the video!


Single Joint Movement

Joint and Joint Type Involved: Knee, hinge joint.

Main Muscles Worked: Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus

Equipment: Machine

Prerequisites: Ability to contract hamstrings and produce knee flexion against weight of limb without pain or problems.

A leg curl, also known as a hamstring curl, is a movement at the knee that decreases the angle between the lower leg and upper leg. This movement is called knee flexion and is what will be performed against the weight of a machine in a lying down position. Before you attempt to do this exercise be sure you can adequately contract your hamstrings to flex the knee without any pain. Once you have demonstrated that you can sufficiently contract your hamstrings without any problems you may be ready to contract your hamstrings against additional weight. For this exercise, you will need to use a lying hamstring curl machine.


1. Lie down on top of the lying leg curl machine with your feet under the pad. Adjustments may need to be made depending on the machine to get the pad in a comfortable position on the backside of your lower leg. Also, you may need to increase or decrease the starting angle of the machine depending on the range of motion that is available to you in your knees.

2. Ensure that your ankles, knees, and hip joints are all aligned. The knee is a hinge joint, meaning that it only works in one plane of motion (think door hinge). If your knees and feet are too wide then you are attempting to contract your hamstrings against a force angle that is not favorable to biomechanics or knee health and longevity.

3. Pick a weight. It would be beneficial to pick a light weight at first to assess your range of motion and your ability to CONTROL the weight. DO NOT whip the weight around… ever. Once you have demonstrated control you may be ready to increase the weight.

4. Stabilize. Before you do a rep be sure to stabilize everything as much as possible that is not the knee joint. This will ensure that you are producing as much output in the hamstring as you can.

Areas to stabilize:

-Grab the handles on the front side of the machine and pull your body firmly against the pad to eliminate body swing.

-Drive your hips into the pad to make sure that they do not come off of the pad during the entire rep and set.

-Crunch your abs and pull your belly button to the ceiling to protect your lower back in this lying down position.

5. To initiate knee flexion contract the hamstrings and continue to focus on the contraction through the rep.

6. Pause at the top of the rep to establish control and determine the end of your range where you still have tension on the hamstrings and do not experience any pain or joint discomfort. Slowly bring down the weight, again focusing on the hamstrings. Only go as low as you can go without losing tension on the hamstrings.

NOTE: If the pad bounces at the top then you are not controlling the weight and you are using momentum, not your hamstrings, to move the weight.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until your set is complete.

For common mistakes and easy corrections, see 3:11​ 👍

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