The standing leg curl is an excellent exercise for strengthening your hamstrings and calf muscles. You can do this workout in the comfort of your own home. It targets the hamstrings and glutes, which are two muscles often neglected by many exercisers.
We will point out how to do a standing leg curl, what it does for you and why it's important to add exercises like this one into your routine.
What Is the Standing Leg Curl?
The standing leg curl is a weight-bearing exercise that targets the hamstrings. It is considered an isolation movement, meaning it works on only one muscle group and not many other muscles in your body.
How to Do Standing Leg Curls
Start by finding something sturdy such as a couch, chair, or step/stool for balance (you may need help with this).
Place your right heel against the object behind you with your toes pointing out about 45 degrees away from your left foot, so they are perpendicular to the ground. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart at all times during this position.
Bend both knees until they form a 90-degree angle and keep your hips level.
Stretch your right arm to the side as far as possible (without overextending) while looking at it, then slowly bend up from the waist with a straight back until you feel resistance on the hamstrings.
You should not go past 90 degrees of flexion in this position because that will put too much pressure on other parts of your body, such as your lower spine or knees.
Contracting muscles is vital for muscle growth, so maintain tension for about two seconds before returning to the start position.
Benefits of A Standing Leg Curl
The following benefits may occur from performing just one set of 15-20 reps regularly (or two sets of time restrictions). It might take three months before significant changes will become evident. However, the earlier you start, the faster these changes will happen.
-Improved muscular balance in your legs leads to more excellent stability and less risk of injury when running or playing sports.
-Tightness is reduced because the exercise strengthens the muscles.
-Endometriosis may also be eased by reducing tension on organs that are affected by these conditions.
-Sciatica symptoms may also lessen due to improved blood flow (knees & ankles) from increased leg strength, which reduces pressure on sciatic nerve roots caused by tight hamstrings: this condition can lead to numbness and pain down one side of your body.
- Hernias might disappear too because they're sometimes due to weak abdominal wall muscle support.
Best Leg Curl Machines for Standing Leg Curls
Leg curl machines are very popular among people who have a home gym. They come in all shapes and sizes, but the most common ones can be found to mix low reps with high reps (for example, 15-20 for three sets). Here are some best choices of leg curl machines we came across.
Highly Reviewed -
Body-Solid GCEC340 Cam Series Leg Extension and Curl Machine with Adjustable Seat, Hamstring Exerciser
Constructed of 7-gauge steel, this commercial-grade leg extension, and curl machine features a fully adjustable pop-pin design that makes it easier than ever to perform the two most important leg exercises in a workout routine.
Thick Dura Firm padding and oversized padded rollers keep you comfortable and secure as you curl and extend, while the fully adjustable 7-gauge steel cam quickly adapts to fit users of all sizes
Constructed of 7-gauge steel, this commercial-grade leg extension, and curl machine is designed to withstand the rigors of daily use in a busy gym.
Adjustable pop pin design
The fully adjustable pop pin design allows for easy height adjustments while seated on the bench. Pull up on one end of the cam to adjust its height, then push down to lock it into place.
Thick DuraFirm padding and oversized padded rollers keep you comfortable and secure as you curl and extend, while the fully adjustable 7-gauge steel cam quickly adapts to fit users of all sizes.
- Long-lasting machine
- Handles heavy-duty tasks
It's pretty challenging to assemble it
XMark Heavy Duty Adjustable Rotary Leg Extension and Curl Machine Features A 12 Position Adjustable Thigh Pad and 20 Position Adjustable Press Arm
The XMark XM-7615 Heavy Duty Adjustable Rotary Leg machine features 12-position vertically-adjustable thigh pads, a 20-position adjustable press arm to fit various leg lengths and a fully adjustable backrest pad.
Adjustable thigh pads
The XMark XM-7615 is designed with 12-position vertically adjustable thigh pads, a 20-position adjustable press arm to fit various leg lengths and a fully adjustable backrest pad.
Oversized 4.33" vinyl-covered rollers offer comfort during seated leg extension exercises. They are also perfect for performing calf raises or squats.
- Fully adjustable
- Heavy-duty machine
- Durable due to high-quality materials
- Easy to assemble
Does not have a tightening screw on one of the weight adapters
Great Affordable Option -
Marcy Adjustable 6 Position Utility Bench
The Marcy Adjustable 6 Position Utility Bench is an excellent addition to your home gym. The bench's six-position back pad adjustment feature enables you to modify the back pad's incline, flat, or decline position.
This versatility allows you to work out your upper body and your lower limbs thanks to its ergonomic bench's dual position leg developer. Made from solid steel and high-density foam padding, this utility bench is built to last.
Adjustable back pad
This machine has an adjustable back that you can alter according to your routine. It has a secure sawtooth back pad adjustment design which you can modify to an incline, flat or decline position.
Total Leg Developer
You get to train not only your upper body but also your lower limbs, thanks to this ergonomic bench's dual position leg developer.
High-Density Foam Padding
This bench's top-grade foam padding allows users to exercise comfortably on the equipment.
The Marcy Utility Bench's powder-coated steel frame provides excellent stability and lasts long.
- Easy to use
The sitting area is quite wobbly
DIY Standing Leg Curl
Are you wondering whether it's possible to perform a standing leg curl without a machine? Worry not because that's possible. Here's how to perform this movement.
-You should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly outwards (you can also point them straight ahead). Your knees should be in line with your hips as you bend forward at the waist until you feel tension on the hamstrings.
- Make sure that your back stays neutral, not rounded or arched over too much; it's best if there's a slight curve in the lower spine when bending forwards like this.
- You will then use both hands to grip onto something for balance before lifting one foot off from its ground position as you keep the foot on the ground flat. You can either lift with both hands or just one, depending on what feels more comfortable to you; your arms should be straight out and by your sides during this time.
- If you are lifting with two hands, keeping them at shoulder height while gripping onto something for balance (such as a table), bring your leg upwards so that it's perpendicular to the floor .
- Keep the heel of this raised foot close to where you're holding on to whatever is providing stability (just don't let go!). This will cause tension again in your hamstrings. Neither foot should touch anything other than air throughout these exercises. Keep this lifted leg there before lowering back down slowly and repeating all steps above but alternating between feet.
-If you are lifting with one hand, keep it straight out and by your side. Bring the foot upwards so that it's perpendicular to the floor.
- Keep the heel of this raised foot close to where you're holding on. This will cause tension in your hamstrings before lowering back down slowly and repeating all steps above but alternating between feet.
Standing Leg Curl Variations
There are two main standing leg curl variations. These variations are the single-leg standing leg curls and the double-leg standing leg curls.
Single-Leg Standing Leg Curls
Here is how to do this kind of leg variation.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend forward at the waist so that your palms are flat on the floor in front of you.
- Raise one leg behind you, and your toes pointed to the sky.
- Slowly push back up into a standing position while pushing off from the heel of your foot planted firmly on the ground (otherwise known as "heels elevated").
- Do this with one leg at a time for ten repetitions before switching legs to do another set!
Double-Leg Standing Leg Curls
- Beginners find the double-leg standing curls to be so easy. Here's how you can do it.
- Start by standing with both feet together and bent over, knees slightly bent, hands placed on hips or thighs if preferred.
- Slowly raise one knee towards your chest until it's at your chest level.
- Then slowly push back up into a standing position while pushing off from the heel of your foot planted firmly on the ground and knee raised towards the chest.
- Do this with one leg at a time for ten repetitions before switching legs to do another set!
Standing Leg Curl Alternatives
The Standing Leg Curl is a fantastic exercise to work the hamstring and gluteal muscles. The following are alternatives for training those muscle groups while avoiding common problems with this movement pattern.
You can do these exercises anywhere from your house to the gym by placing one foot on an object, such as a chair or bench, then extending that leg straight out in front of you (taking care not to lock knees).
You'll also want to use a weight plate so it won't slide away when performing reps during these exercises. A few sets will do wonders for activating all aspects of the posterior chain!
This a great beginner exercise to get your lower body ready for more advanced exercises like hack squats or leg presses.
This is another way of saying "plies" or "backward lunges," where the dominant leg stays back with toes pointed forward and knee bent. Place your non-dominant foot in front of you to balance one leg while incorporating a slight squat before coming up to the standing position.
Single-Leg Reverse Lunge
This exercise is similar to sissy squats but has more range of motion and activation at the gluteal muscles because both legs are engaged simultaneously without any assistance from the other side.
Holding a weight plate overhead during this movement pattern will be easy enough for people new to these types of exercises that may have trouble stabilizing themselves during some movements. This exercise can be a great alternative to step ups or other harder exercises like hack squats or regular squats.
Standing Leg Curl vs. Lying Leg Curl
Are there any similarities and differences between the standing leg curl and the lying leg curl? Let's find out?
The standing leg curl is an excellent exercise for strengthening the hamstring muscles and building strength, power, and endurance in your lower back.
On the other hand, a lying leg curl will strengthen the hamstrings but can lead to injury if done improperly or without any added weight because you are not using the proper form.
This leads to decreased muscle activation, which decreases gains in flexibility and potentially creates pain on one side of the body due to prolonged use with no tension.
The standing leg curl opens up pathways that allow blood flow throughout our bodies more easily by lengthening tissue through exercises.
The standing leg curl also helps improve flexibility and balance by using your entire lower body, while the lying leg curl does not use as many muscles, reducing benefits to a specific part of the body.
In a nutshell, the standing leg curl is an advanced exercise that requires more coordination and power.
Wrapping it up
A standing leg curl is a weight-bearing exercise that targets the hamstrings and glutes. It also strengthens your lower back, core and stabilizing muscles. The best way to make this move is with an ankle or knee pad for balance on top of a machine.
Have you ever tried this exercise before? Let us know in the comments.
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