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Lower Body Workouts

What Are Seated Leg Curls And How To Do Them Correctly?

by The Power Life Team | July 15, 2022

For most, seated leg curls can be a low-impact and effective way to build strength in your legs and lower body. This simple workout is also great for beginners or anyone looking to add a new exercise to a comprehensive resistance training program. The instructions below will teach you how to properly perform seated leg curls exercises – and how they can potentially benefit your overall fitness. Make sure you get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routine.

A Quick Rundown: Seated Leg Curls Exercises

Visit virtually any gym, and you’ll see people doing seated leg curls. They’re an important exercise for leg strength, and they’re also one of the few functional training exercises that you can do from a seated position.

Seated leg curls are an isolation exercise, which is a specific type of workout that involves working just one joint and limited muscles at a time. This type of exercise lets you focus on a very specific part of the body to ensure it receives balanced training and development.1

What Are The Potential Benefits Of Seated Leg Curls?

The main muscles worked during seated leg curls exercises are the hamstrings. But, seated leg curls also work thigh muscles and calf muscles to support knee stability. Improving the range of your angles of knee flexion can support your overall athletic performance and many everyday movements.2

Additionally, the unique movement of seated leg curls positions your hip at a 90-degree angle. Achieving this range of motion, also known as hip flexion, can provide an optimal stretch for your hamstrings.3

Why Strong Hamstring Muscles Are Important

Keeping your hamstrings – the muscles along the back of your thigh – in tip-top shape helps facilitate hip extension and knee flexing. The range of motion in this region of the leg is crucial for everyday movements, like standing upright, bending, and walking.4

Better Balance And Stability

Research suggests that strong hamstrings can also help support better balance and stability. One study found that strong hamstrings improved postural balance in elderly participants. These same participants were encouraged to pursue hamstring development as a way to support balance.5

seated leg curl | My Power Life

Learn How To Do Seated Leg Curls Properly

Seated leg curls may look simple due to the seated position, but proper form is crucial if you want to optimize your results. Tony Horton walks you through the best technique to ensure that you use your effort and time wisely on the leg curl machine.

Note: Always consult with your doctor or physical trainer before beginning leg curls.

Seated Leg Curl

  1. To start, adjust the height of the machine using the machine lever. You want to make sure that you fit in the seat.
  2. Sit down with your back pressed firmly against the back support pad.
  3. Lift your legs, and place them on top of the pads in front of you so that the pads rest just a few inches under your calves. Then, place the lap pad on top of your thighs, right above your knees.
  4. At this point, your legs should be straight and fully extended in front of you. Make sure you’re in a comfortable starting position.
  5. To begin the exercise, exhale and push down on the pads with your thighs toward your back and as close to your thighs as possible.
  6. As you bend your knee joints and push through with your calves, keep your torso as straight and still as possible.
  7. When your legs are fully contracted back, hold for one second, then release, and return to the starting position. If you feel any discomfort throughout the exercise, stop immediately.
  8. Repeat the seated leg curls motion for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.6

Add Variation With Prone Leg Curl Training

If you’re more comfortable in a prone position, you can also try the lying leg curl. This additional hamstring training can be done on a separate machine or even with a dumbbell held between your feet.

  1. Set-up the leg curl machine with a reasonable size weight. If in doubt, use a lighter weight to err on the side of caution.
  2. Lie face-down on the machine, and place your legs underneath the lifting pad. The pad should rest just below your calves.
  3. Take hold of the bars located near your chest and head to pull your body toward the bench.
  4. Curl your legs up toward your back, hold, then slowly release back down to start.
  5. Repeat for 10-12 reps.7

seated leg curls | My Power Life

Common Seated Leg Curl Mistakes

To get the most out of your seated leg curls, Tony Horton suggests that you look out for these common mistakes. Avoiding these easy mistakes can ensure you get the best results.

Lower Leg Pad Too High On The Leg

If the pad that rests against your calves is too high up, it can put an unnecessary amount of pressure on your achilles tendon. This unnecessary strain can result in injury and it decreases your range of motion, which means you won’t extend or contract enough to get serious results.8

Lifting Too Much Weight

Like any resistance training, it’s important to start out your seated leg curls with an appropriate amount of weight. It’s better to lift too little weight than to exceed your weight lifting abilities. So, don’t stack the leg curl machine with too much weight. Start small, and work your way up.9

Moving Too Quickly

Another common problem is doing this exercise too rapidly and without much resistance. You may have seen this in the gym before — someone quickly moving their legs up and down on the leg machine. These rapid movements may look impressive, but they don’t actually provide your legs with enough resistance. You should return to start at a slow enough pace to feel the muscle contract.10

The Importance Of Stretching

Tony Horton is a firm believer that stretching before and after a workout may help reduce the risk of injury when exercising. And, with leg curls in particular, a good pre-workout stretch may help keep those hamstrings loose, encouraging strong muscle growth.11

seated leg curls | My Power Life

Seated Leg Curls: A Great Addition To Your Workout

You may not give them much thought, but the backs of your legs contain important muscles – the hamstrings – that require proper body resistance training. Seated leg curls are one of the safest and most efficient ways to work these important muscles.

Adding seated leg curls exercises into your routine can strengthen your hamstrings to help support knee flexibility and overall balance. So, take a seat, and get to work on those hammies the next time you’re in the gym. But, always speak to your physician before adding any new workout to your routine.

Learn More:
-Highly Effective Leg Workouts With Dumbbells
-Learn How To Do Bulgarian Split Squat With The Correct Form
-What Are Workout Splits And How To Find The Best One For You