How To Use Leg Curl Machine

When it is leg day at the gym, there are a variety of machines that you can try out. Perhaps one of the most commonly used exercises is the leg curl machine. This isolation exercise is brilliant for your legs, mainly for the hamstring and calf muscles.

However, if you are unfamiliar with the machine, it can seem a little daunting. To help novice gym trainers, we have provided a set of step-by-step instructions for using the leg curl machine.

How To Use Leg Curl Machine


There are different variations of leg curls that you can try out. The main variations are the standing leg curl, lying leg curl, and sitting leg curl. Here is how you do all three exercises:

Standing Leg Curl

Unlike the other two methods, this type of leg curl will not require the use of a machine. Instead, it can be done from the comfort of your own home. Because you are not using a weight, this exercise will not need as much hamstring strength. Consequently, it is amazing for beginners. 

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder length apart. 
  2. At the knee, bend one leg. This will require you to put all of your weight on the other leg. Bring the bended knee as high as you can, with your foot being in close proximity to your bottom. 
  3. If you are struggling to balance your weight, feel free to rest on a chair. 
  4. Hold in place for a few seconds. 
  5. Gently lower your raised leg until it has returned to the ground. 
  6. Repeat these steps with your opposite leg. If you need to, feel free to do multiple sets and reps. 

Lying Leg Curl

This is perhaps the most regularly used version of the leg curl. 

  1. Lay down on the machine, with your face touching the pad and your legs underneath the weighted bar. If you need to, adjust the machine so that you are in a comfortable position. The bar should be just above the heel of your feet. Choose a weight that you are capable of lifting comfortably. 
  2. Bend your lower leg while keeping the rest of your leg on the pad. Your legs should bend at the knee, bringing the weight up with them. Remember to exhale as you do this motion. 
  3. Once your legs have gone as high as they can, hold the weight in place for a few seconds. 
  4. Gently lower the weight until you reach the point that you started. Inhale as you do this. 
  5. Complete as many sets and reps as you want. Remember to take short breaks in between sets. This will give your body time to recover. 

Seated Leg Curl

If you do not feel at ease in the lying leg curl position. You might want to give the seated variety a shot. This machine will also mean that it is easier to get into the correct position for this exercise. 

  1. Position yourself in the machine. You should sit down on the pad as you would a standard chair. Your back should be against the backrest. Adjust the height and weight of the machine so that you are comfortable. 
  2. Put your legs underneath the weighted bar. The thigh pad should be directly above your knees. Meanwhile, the lower bar should be underneath the calf muscles. At this point, your legs will be bent. 
  3. Put your hands on the handlebars. This will prevent your arms from interfering with the exercise. 
  4. Lift your lower legs, raising them up with the weight until they are straight. Inhale as you do so. 
  5. Hold the weight in place for several seconds. 
  6. Gradually return your leg and the weight to the starting position. Exhale during this point. 
  7. Repeat as many reps and sets as you wish, taking breaks in between each set. If you become hot, remember to grab a drink of water. 

What Are The Benefits Of Leg Curls?

The reason why leg curls are quite popular is that they are beneficial to your legs. As mentioned earlier, this exercise will improve your hamstring and calf muscles. Furthermore, other muscles in your leg will be activated when the weight is lowered.

These muscles will become stronger, potentially resulting in them increasing in size. Thus, this exercise will be advantageous for people who are aiming to make their legs look bigger. 

Aside from aesthetic value, stronger hamstring muscles will help your performance with other leg-based exercises. In addition, you will likely be better at balancing because of this. After all, you will use your hamstrings in numerous everyday activities, such as running. 

You may also notice that these muscles have become more flexible and mobile. This will help you to do a wider range of movements. 

Things To Avoid 

When it comes to this exercise, there are a lot of common mistakes that you can make. To avoid these errors, follow these tips: 

  • Use the correct weight. You should comfortably be able to lift it for a number of reps. If you are a beginner, it is a good idea to start with a low weight. This will help you to perfect the form before you start increasing the weight. Some people go into this exercise attempting to lift a weight that is too heavy for them. 
  • Do not forget to stretch before you start leg curls. Otherwise, you are more prone to injuring yourself. Exercises such as the hamstring stretch will help your legs get ready for this exercise.
  • Adjust the leg curl machine so that the pads are at the correct position for your legs. You can also adjust the height of the machine. If not, the exercise will be harder.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Sets And Reps Should I Do For Leg Curls?

As with most exercises, you should aim to do between 8 and 12 reps for 3 sets. What are sets and reps? Well, reps are the number of times you do an exercise prior to taking a break. Sets are the number of reps you do in one go. 

Will Leg Curls Build Muscle?

Yes, leg curls can build muscle. This will primarily be in the hamstring area. 

Final Thoughts

There are lots of benefits to doing using the leg curl machine. However, it is important to focus on the position of your body if you are new to this exercise. Though it can be tempting to try a heavy weight, this can lead to injuries if you are not careful. To avoid this from happening, remember to follow our instructions.

Kevin Harris