How to: SEATED LEG CURL (video)

In this tutorial, we will go over the target muscle, setup, form, and more for the seated hamstring leg 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 seated 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 seated hamstring curl machine.


1. To get started, take a seat in the seated leg curl machine with your feet on top of 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. 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. Also, be sure to adjust the back pad so your knees are lined up with the pivot point on the machine.

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:

-Utilize the handles on the front side of the machine to pull your body upward and brace to eliminate body swing.

-Slightly crunch your abs to protect your lower back and further eliminate swinging.

-You can also utilize the knee bar to push yourself back into the seat so you don’t slide forward.

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

6. Pause at the bottom of the rep to establish control and determine the end of your range where you still have tension in the hamstrings and do not experience any pain or joint discomfort.

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

7. Slowly return the pad to the starting position, again focusing on the hamstrings. Only go as high as you can go without losing tension in the hamstrings or collapsing backward. Keep that upright position if you are leaned forward.

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

  • Instagram - White Circle
  • YouTube - White Circle
  • button
Dallas, Texas, United States

Dallas, Texas, United States