How to Do a Hamstring Curl: Benefits, Variations, and Precaution

Bending the legs lying down in the trainer, also known as “hamstring curls,” will help to tighten and harden the leg muscles. There is a leg trainer in most gyms, and not only men but also women like to work with it, which makes their legs even more attractive and defined. The exercise is relatively easy, but there are important points that you cannot ignore in order to achieve the desired result.

Description and benefits of the exercise

Due to the fact that the thigh muscles are responsible for bending the legs, they are rarely used in everyday life, just like the quadriceps are small in people who do not train them specifically.

To make the body look symmetrical and for the muscles to develop evenly, it is necessary to work out this muscle group. The best thing to do is bend your legs while you’re lying down, because your muscles will get a good workout this way. 

The muscles involved

The exercise works out the muscle groups of the legs, so it is not surprising that a lot of athletes always work in the gym with such a trainer.

There are from 640 to 850 muscles in the human body, and 200 of them are involved during walking.


This is an isolated exercise on the rear muscle of the thigh. For this reason, it was especially popular within the training programmes of female athletes.


Additionally, the popliteal, calf, and thin muscles are included in the work. In addition to them, the anterior tibial and rectus muscles of the thighs work as stabilizers.

How and how much to bend your legs

Even though hamstring curls look easy, not everyone does them the right way.But it depends on this whether they will get a result or just waste their time on this machine.

Implementation technique

First of all, you should adjust the trainer for yourself. The angle of inclination of the leg supports should be adjusted so that the limbs move freely with the support and, when the athlete lies down on the bench, they lean on the padded roller.

This is the starting position of this exercise. Additionally, you need to position the roller so that it leans slightly below the heel. And, of course, determine the weight you need for yourself.

  • You must lie down on the trainer’s bench and place your feet against the padded roller.
  • The pelvis should be pressed firmly against the bench, and the hands should grasp special grips or handles.
  • When inhaling, the legs should be bent so that the roller goes to the buttocks.  After reaching the maximum load point, take a short break to allow the hamstrings to receive a load on exhalation.
  • On the inhale, slowly but without haste, they descend down to the starting position.

At the lower point, the knees do not fully straighten; otherwise, you can cause injury to the tendon on the inner side of the thigh.

The number of repetitions and the training programme

The number of repetitions directly depends on the level of training of the athlete and on the goals that they are pursuing.  You need to start with less and gradually increase the load.  For example, if the goal is to burn fat, then a beginner will need to perform 2-4 sets of 13-25 repetitions.

The break between sets in this case should be 1-2 minutes in duration. The weight should be selected so that you have enough strength to perform the required number of repetitions. There is no need to try and repeat what experienced athletes do on the first day.

Bending the limbs while lying down is a formative exercise, so it is recommended to perform it after the basic exercises to build up the mass of the muscles of the lower parts of the body.

Tips and recommendations

In order to learn how to perform hamstring curls correctly, here are the main mistakes that novice athletes make.

The main mistakes of beginners

The main mistakes that are made by beginners include the following:

  • Full extension of the knees at the lower point This is not recommended because the load on the muscles is not maintained.
  • Uncontrolled “walking” of the limbs The legs should be quickly lifted up and slowly lowered down, controlling the movement at all times. Thus, the load will be optimal and the training will become more effective.
  • The knees hang off the bench during training. This is unacceptable because it is fraught with injuries.
  • A lot of weight for beginners. There is no need to get carried away with excessive loads. At first, it may seem that it is easy to perform this exercise, but it is worth considering that a heavy load can damage the hamstrings in an unprepared person.

Interesting fact: The first bodybuilding training machines were invented in Sweden in 1857.

Features of the exercise

Despite the general simplicity of the exercise, there are still a number of features that are worth paying attention to:

  • You need to firmly press the pelvis to the bench and fix the body.
  • Hands firmly hold on to the special handles of the trainer.
  • The legs should be brought up high enough so that they almost touch the buttocks.
  • The downward movement is slower than the upward movement;
  • The knees do not need to be straightened at the bottom point, so that the muscles are tense all of the time during the exercise.


Before going to the gym, it is best to consult with a doctor to analyze the state of your health and build a training programme on this basis.  There are no special contraindications for hamstring curls.

It is only worth noting that the exercise is not recommended for people who have knee joints. It is important to monitor your sensations during training. There should be discomfort, as the muscles are in constant tension, but pain should not be allowed to occur.

What can replace the exercise?

If there is no such trainer in the gym or you want an alternative for home training, then you can perform other exercises that work the same muscle groups.

One of these will be the lifting of the legs back into the standing position. It activates the back of the thigh, buttocks, calves, and lower back. Additionally, it will help to develop flexibility and balance.

At home, you can bend your legs while lying on the floor. At the same time, the body is pressed tightly to the floor, the hands are folded under the head, and a dumbbell is held between the feet. The effect of such an exercise will be almost identical to what is performed on the trainer.

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