Lying Leg Curls (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Lying Leg Curls are a popular exercise for targeting the hamstrings. This exercise is performed on a machine specifically designed for leg curls, and it is considered to be an isolation exercise because it specifically targets the hamstrings.

This guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to properly execute the Lying Leg Curl exercise, as well as tips on how to make the most out of your workout and avoid common mistakes.

How To Do Lying Leg Curls

Equipment Needed

  • Lying Leg Curl Machine

Muscles Worked

  • Hamstrings (Biceps Femoris, Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus)
  • Calves (Gastrocnemius)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Begin by adjusting the machine to your body size and lying face down on the bench.
  • Position your legs so that your ankles are resting on the padded lever.
  • Grasp the handles on either side of the bench for support.
  • Keeping your hips pressed down against the bench, curl your legs up towards your glutes by contracting your hamstrings.
  • Pause at the top of the movement, and then slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.

Coaching Points

Extend your feet to place more emphasis on the hamstrings. Dorsiflex the toes to emphasize the gastrocnemius.

Can also be done one leg at a time.

Stay under control of the weight. Don’t rush through and/or allow the weight stack to crash into itself at the bottom of reps.

Benefits of Lying Leg Curls

Lying Leg Curls can help to improve lower body strength, specifically the hamstrings. Strong hamstrings can improve athletic performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Lying Leg Curls work the hamstrings which can oftentimes can be neglected in favor of more quad-dominant movements. Having exercises that focus on strengthening the hamstrings can lead to a more well-balanced training plan and athletes.

Finally, they are an extremely beginner-friendly movement. It’s probably one of the easiest exercises in the weight room for a beginner to learn how to execute properly.

Lying Leg Curl Alternatives

Looking for some alternatives for Lying Leg Curls? Here are a few exercises that you may be able to use as a substitute.

Need more options? Here are some of my favorite Lying Leg Curl alternatives.

Romanian Deadlifts (RDL)

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

Romanian Deadlifts also target the hamstrings but also get the glutes and low back involved as well.

It’s performed by holding a weight (typically a barbell or dumbbell) in front of the body and then slowly lowering it to the ground by hinging at the waist while keeping the legs relatively straight and the back flat.

Glute-Ham Raises


If you have access to a Glute Ham Machine then you could use Glute Ham Raises as a substitute for Lying Leg Curls.

Glute Ham Raises are an excellent exercise for strengthening the hamstrings and, like RDLs, also work the glutes and low back.

More Links and Info

If you’d like to see more exercises targeting the quads, hamstrings and glutes check out the Lower Body Lifts section of our Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of movements, all with complete detailed instructions.

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