Leg curls or leg extensions is a great lower body exercise that targets the back of the leg, specifically the hamstrings and calf muscles. Anyone with a regular weightlifting routine should consider adding leg curls to their workout.
As we mentioned leg curls target the hamstrings and calf muscles. Additionally, when lowering your feet back down, your butts, thighs, and front of your shins are also activated.
You want to have strong, flexible hamstrings for overall strength, balance, and stamina, while also helping to improve sports performance. Conditioning these muscles can also help you avoid injury when doing activities involving your lower body use.
A leg curl is done while lying face down on the leg developer machine, stretch out your legs out fully with a roller pad resting just above the heels, a few inches over your calves. With your hands grab the support handles on each side of the machine.
Next, flex your knees, pulling your ankles as close to your butt as possible, while keeping your hips firmly on the bench. Hold the position briefly and then return your feet to the starting position in a slow, controlled movement.
You can also use your toes to help target your hamstrings or calves while performing the movement. Dorsiflexing the toes, which means curling them toward the shin, engages the hamstrings, while pointing your toes, known as plantar flexion, isolates the calf muscles.
Set up the machine so that the pads are sitting comfortably against your lower back and put your legs on the padded lever so it sits just below your calf muscles, placing the lap on your thighs just above the knees.
Raise your legs so they are straight out in front of you and grasp the side handles of the machine. Next, pull the padded lever down and back towards you as far as you can with your legs, hold for a second, then slowly return back to your starting position.
Avoid these mistakes when doing leg curls by keeping the following in mind:
If the padded lever is too high on your calves, this can place pressure on your Achilles tendon which will reduce your overall range of motion. The first time you do a leg curl, you should take care to be sure you have the pad in the correct position and look at videos or photos online to learn how to adjust the roller pad if needed.
To properly execute a leg extension, always begin using a lighter weight. You don’t want to force your body to overcompensate by lifting your hips and flexing your lower back. Not only does this fails to isolate your calves and hamstrings, but it can cause an injury to your back.
Select a weight that is comfortable for you to do 8-12 repetitions with reasonable effort and good form.
If you want to build muscle mass, you should gradually increase the amount of weight as you get stronger. However, keep in mind that if you overload the weights too quickly you may risk suffering an injury.
Repeated contraction and muscle growth can impair hamstring flexibility if you overtrain, use too heavy of weights, and fail to stretch before and after. To keep your hamstrings limber, always do stretches before and after your workout.
It’s also important to keep in mind, that if you have one of the following issues, you should consult a doctor or physical trainer before doing leg curls: