Seated Leg Curl Machine | Proper Form, Muscles Worked, Benefits & Common Mistakes

Woman doing seated leg curl exercise at gym

The standard leg curl may be done in a prone or seated position, and both require the use of a machine. The leg curl is a fantastic method to isolate, strengthen, and develop your hamstrings whether you do it seated or lying down. The seated leg curl not only improves your lower body strength but also aids in the prevention of injury and performance gains in other lifts and activities. A study done on 20 people proved that hamstrings muscle size can be more effectively increased by seated than prone leg curl training, suggesting that training at long muscle lengths promotes muscle hypertrophy, but both are similarly effective in reducing susceptibility to muscle damage.

In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about the seated hamstring curl aka leg curl.

Muscles Worked

Muscles worked in seated leg curl exercise


Primary Muscle Groups:

Given its name, it’s no surprise that the seated hamstring/leg curl primarily targets the hamstrings.

The biceps femoris (a group of two muscles: long and short head), semitendinosus, and semimembranosus are the hamstring’s four leg muscles. You should be able to feel a strong contraction of these muscles during this exercise.

Secondary Muscle Groups:

The seated hamstring curl is an isolated exercise, but this movement does double duty by also working your calves as when the exercise motion begins, the calves contract to start the curl.

Finally, your glutes and hip flexors work in tandem to help your hamstrings.

How to Do Seated Leg Curls

girl doing leg curls machine at gym
  • Adjust the machine lever to your height and sit on the machine with your back against the rear support pad.
  • Place the back of your lower leg on top of the padded lever (just a few inches below the calves) and fasten the lap pad against your legs, just above your knees. Then grab one of the side handles on the machine as you point your toes straight and make sure that your legs are fully straight in front of you.
  • Exhale as you push the weight down by bending your knees as far as possible. At no time should your torso move. Hold the squeezed position for a second as you breathe out.
  • Slowly return to the starting position while breathing in.

Seated Leg Curl Benefits

1. Excellent size and strength builder (Hamstring)

The seated leg curl, unlike many eccentric hamstring exercises, places a lot of emphasis on the concentric portion of the exercise, in which your hamstring muscle contracts.

As a result, the seated hamstring curl can help you get bigger more quickly since it promotes hamstrings hypertrophy.

Not only will your lower half look more defined with increased muscle mass, but you’ll also be able to boost your performance in other movements like the barbell squat, smith squat, and deadlift.

2. Athletic Performance

Because hamstrings are so important for knee flexion and hip extension, they are essentially required for running motion. Knee flexion and hip extension are also essential to activities like jumping, kicking, skipping, and more.

3. Reduced Risk of Injury

Hamstring injuries are quite common. A strained or torn hamstring might take weeks to heal, which will have an impact on your overall fitness development.

The seated hamstring curl, when correctly performed, can improve your hamstrings’ stability and your lower body mind-muscle connection.

The seated hamstring curl might be an important exercise to decrease the risk of hamstring injuries and help you meet your fitness objectives.

4. Hamstring Isolation

The hamstrings are often used in lower body exercises, although few target them as effectively as the seated leg curl.

Isolation exercises may be important for bodybuilders, athletes, or anybody who wants to target a specific muscle group.

If your quads are significantly bigger than your hamstrings, you can use the seated hamstring curl to correct this muscle imbalance.

Common Mistakes 

Rushing Through The Movement

The most frequent seated leg curl blunder is rushing through the reps. Many lifters curl the weight down and then quickly spring it back up. This error destroys your gains for two reasons. First, you lose the hamstrings’ contraction at the bottom of each rep. Second, you cut your time under tension significantly.

 Lifting Too Heavy

Another mistake committed during the seated hamstring curl is attempting to lift too much weight. If you feel your calf muscles straining to control the motion, you’re probably using too much weight. High volume training elicits a far superior response from your hamstrings.

 Not Enough Stimulus

The hamstrings are one of the largest muscle groups in the body, thus they require a substantial number of sets and reps. Make certain you use enough exercises, sets, and repetitions to adequately stimulate the hamstring muscles.

If you’re back to ignoring your hamstrings, apply the principle of priority. Maybe start your leg training with your hamstrings and focus on them so that you have the front of your energy reserves available to use for them next time.

Take Away

Also known as hamstring curls, seated leg curls are an isolation exercise that allows you to concentrate on the hamstrings. You may perform the standard leg curl in a prone or seated posture using a machine, and both are effective. The leg curl is one of the greatest ways to isolate, strengthen, and grow your hamstrings while sitting or lying down.

The outer of the hamstrings, also known as the biceps femoris head, will be emphasized by lying leg curls, while seated leg curls will focus on the inner side of the hamstring.

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