Leg Curl Alternative

Leg Curl Alternative: 10+ Best Lower Body Exercises!


Lower body exercises are very important for your overall body health, but a lot of people totally neglect them. One of the best leg exercises is the leg curl which you can do in different variations. But what if you don’t like this exercise in general? Is there any leg curl alternative you can perform? And what else should you keep in mind when creating your lower body workout routine? Let’s discuss these questions and more in this in-depth guide.


Let’s start with the basics of the leg curl exercise before we talk about leg curl alternative exercises.


The Leg Curl

The Leg Curl

The leg curl is one of the lower body isolation exercises (targeting mainly one single muscle group). In this case, there are two main muscle groups being targeted with the leg curl exercise:


Hamstrings

Hamstrings

The hamstrings are targets during the leg curl and are one of the primary muscle groups responsible for stabilizing the knees and extending the hips in the pull. They are an active player to increase stability during the eccentric portion of the lift.


Calves

Calves

The soleus (the smaller of your two primary calf muscles) helps bring your lower leg back upright, while the gastrocnemius (the bigger of those two calf muscles) stabilizes your leg at the knee. This way you will be able to maximize knee and hip extension to finish the lift successfully.


Traditional Lying Leg Curl

The traditional lying leg curl is performed on a leg curl machine with a flat bench and a levered lifting bar which is placed at the foot end of the leg curl machine.

Leg Curls Exercise

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Lie face down on the leg curls machine with your feet placed hip-width apart under the foot pads. Choose your weight.
  2. Slowly curl the weight to the top position.
  3. Hold for a second and let the weight back down to your starting position, completing the repetition.

See the Leg Curls exercise on Youtube here!


Leg Curl Benefits

We will focus on leg curl alternative exercises soon, but let’s talk about the benefits of leg curls first.


Flexibility

Leg curls will improve and strengthen flexibility in your hamstrings which is needed for your daily activity and movements.


Targeting Multiple Muscle Groups

In general, the leg curl is considered an isolation exercises because it primarily focuses on working the hamstring and calves. But the movement of performing the leg curl will also help your body strengthen your glute muscles and your quadriceps.


Overall Strength

Having strong, flexible hamstrings will also help you to develop overall body strength, stamina and balance. You will reduce the risk of injury in your everyday life and you will protect your muscles during any kind of activity.


Reducing Injury

This one goes along with overall strength. Your risk of injury will decrease, especially if you are facing any knee problems, joint or back pain.


Increasing Your Cardio Performance

You will not only strengthen your core and your muscles in terms of stability and power. Performing leg curls will also increase your cardiovascular performance which will help your body to prevent chronic pain.

Leg Curl Benefits


Common Leg Curl Mistakes

Another important step which we have to outline before talking about leg curl alternative workouts.


Too Much Weight

Performing the leg curl exercise with too much weight on your machine increases the risk of bad form. And this will increase the risk of injury. Start with lower weights and work your way up slowly.


Not Warming-Up

It’s important to properly warm-up before starting a heavy workout session. This is important for every muscle group and also for the leg curl. Learn more about good warm-up routines here.

Additionally, learn how you can warm-up with a great cardio & sprinting routine.


Training With Injury

If you’re recovering from injury or you are still facing any injury, you should avoid the leg curl exercise and look for leg curl alternative workouts. Don’t put your health into risk because that’s not worth it.

Tip:
Always make sure to consult a doctor for health issues before starting a workout. This way you ensure your body is capable of being stressed without risking injury.


Leg Curl Variations

There are some leg curl variations you can perform if you don’t like the traditional one. Before you head over to the leg curl alternative workouts, check these variations as you might like them more than some of the alternatives.



Single-Legged Lying Leg Curl

Single-Legged Lying Leg Curl

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Lie face down on the leg curls machine with your feet placed hip-width apart under the foot pads. Choose your weight.
  2. Slowly curl the weight to the top position with one of both legs.
  3. Hold for a second and let the weight back down to your starting position.
  4. Repeat the same movement with your other leg, completing the repetition.

See the Single-Legged Lying Leg Curl exercise on Youtube here!



Seated Leg Curl

Seated Leg Curl

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Sit in the leg curls machine with the back of your feet placed hip-width apart on top of the padded lever. Choose your weight and hold the handles for support.
  2. Slowly flex your knees to curl the weight down to the back of your thighs.
  3. Hold for a second and let the weight back down to your starting position, completing the repetition.

See the Seated Leg Curl exercise on Youtube here!



Kneeling Leg Curl

Kneeling Leg Curl

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Kneel on the knee pad of the machine with one of your knees.
  2. Place your opposite leg under the lever pad and rest your knee against the front pad.
  3. Rest your arms on the arm rest and now, flex your knee to raise the lever to the back of your thigh.
  4. Hold for a second and let the weight back down to your starting position.
  5. Repeat the same movement with your other leg, completing the repetition.

See the Kneeling Leg Curl exercise on Youtube here!



Dumbbell Leg Curl

Dumbbell Leg Curl

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Lie face down on a flat bench with your feet straight to the back. Grab a dumbbell with your feet.
  2. Grasp the sides or legs of the bench for stability.
  3. Now, slowly curl the dumbbell to the top position and make sure the soles of your feet target the ceiling all the time.
  4. Hold for a second and let the dumbbell back down to your starting position, completing the repetition.

See the Dumbbell Leg Curl exercise on Youtube here!



Leg Curl Alternative Exercises

The leg curl variations above are already some different types of this exercise you can try. But if you want more, look no further. Here are the best leg curl alternative exercises you should try out.



Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Have a stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees.
  2. Grab a kettlebell between your legs with a two-handed grip (overhand). Look straight ahead all the time.
  3. Now, start bending your hips a little bit until the kettlebell is behind your legs.
  4. Swing the kettlebell up by extending your hips. Don’t use your arms for swinging.
  5. Once the weight is in front of you, let it sink down again in a controlled way while bending your hips and slightly bending your knees.
  6. That’s one repetition. Repeat steps 4+5 as often as you want/can.

See the Kettlebell Swing exercise on Youtube here!



Barbell Good Mornings

Barbell Good Mornings

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Grab a barbell resting on your shoulders and have a shoulder-width stand.
  2. Slightly bend your knees and keep your legs straight. Look forward.
  3. Now, bend your upper body forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
  4. Hold for a second and get back up to your starting position, completing the repetition.

See the Barbell Good Mornings exercise on Youtube here!



Romanian Deadlift

Romanian Deadlift

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Deadlift a barbell from the floor with your grip shoulder-width apart. Stand with your arms extended and the bar resting against your thighs. Slightly bend your knees.
  2. Now, bend your upper body down and push your butt to the back. Make sure to perform the movement slowly and controlled to have a good balance in your body.
  3. Finish your down-movement when your chest is parallel to the ground. Hold this position for a second and get back up to your starting position to complete the repetition.

See the Romanian Deadlift exercise on Youtube here!



Glute Bridge

Glute Bridge

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Lie down on the floor with your feet, back and palms flat on the floor. Bend your knees.
  2. Now, press both of your feet into the floor to raise your hips into the ceiling.
  3. Hold this position for a second and get back down to your starting position to complete the repetition.

See the Glute Bridge exercise on Youtube here!



Barbell Hip Thrust

Barbell Hip Thrust

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Sit on the floor and place a barbell on your hips. Push your back against a bench and place your feet on the floor.
  2. Now, thrust your hips while leaning your upper back onto the bench and keeping your head straight.
  3. Hold this position for a second and get back down to your starting position to complete the repetition.

See the Barbell Hip Thrust exercise on Youtube here!



Reverse Hypers

Reverse Hypers

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Get yourself onto the Reverse Hypers machine and place your feet between the lower pads.
  2. Grab the front handles with your hands and choose your desired weight.
  3. Now, push the weight up by using your feet and lower legs. Keep your legs straight and finish the movement when your body builds a straight line.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds and get back down to your starting position, completing the repetition.

See the Reverse Hypers exercise on Youtube here!



Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Stand in front of a clear walkway with your feet hip-width apart. Grab two dumbbells.
  2. Now, take a big step backwards with your right foot and lower yourself down to a 90 degree position.
  3. Push off your right foot, bring it back to your starting position and repeat the movement with your left foot, completing one repetition.

See the Dumbbell Reverse Lunge exercise on Youtube here!



Kettlebell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Kettlebell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Grab one kettlebell with one hand and stand on one leg. Make sure the hand holding the kettlebell and the leg you are standing on are the same side of your body.
  2. Slightly bend your free leg to the back.
  3. Now, bend your upper body down as you were doing a stiff-legged deadlift. Make sure to perform the movement slowly and controlled to have a good balance in your body.
  4. Finish your down-movement when your chest is parallel to the ground. Hold this position for a second and get back up to your starting position.
  5. Repeat the same movement the other way round.
  6. That’s one repetition. Repeat steps 1-5 as often as you want/can.

See the Kettlebell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift exercise on Youtube here!



Glute Ham Raises

Glute Ham Raises

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Get into the back extension machine and adjust the machine so that the top of the leg pad is just below your waist. Press your thighs against the pad and straighten your legs.
  2. Now, bend your upper body to lower it down to reach a 90 degree angle for your waist.
  3. Hold this position for a second and get back up to your starting position to complete the repetition.

See the Glute Ham Raises exercise on Youtube here!



Barbell Sumo Deadlift

Barbell Sumo Deadlift

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Fix the weight plates on your barbell and place it on the floor in front of you. Alternatively you can place the barbell on an elevated platform to allow a reduced range of motion, if necessary.
  2. Step right up to the bar with your shins almost against it, and your feet planted much wider than hip-width apart. Keep your chest up, your shoulders back and down and your spine straight.
  3. Now, hinge down slowly from your hips, softening your knees and bending them as your hips sink low enough to grab the bar in an alternating or “over-under” grip. Place your hands shoulder-width apart and one palm facing forward while the other faces back.
  4. Take the time to check your core posture again: Your chest should be up and open, shoulders back and your spine should be straight and long.
  5. Now, engage all the muscles of your core to maintain this position. Push your feet into the floor – as if you were trying to push the floor away from you – and lift the bar up. Imagine pushing your hips forward as you pull your knees back.
  6. Finish this movement by lifting your chest and engaging your lats for stabilizing the bar in front of your hips.
  7. Hold this position for a few seconds and then return the bar by reversing the motion. Push your weight back into your hips and softening your knees, while letting the bar travel a controlled path back down to the floor along your body.

See the Barbell Sumo Deadlift exercise on Youtube here!



Barbell Traditional Deadlift

Barbell Traditional Deadlift

To do it the right way without risking any kind of injury, follow the steps below:

  1. Fix the weight plates on your barbell and place it on the floor in front of you. Alternatively you can place the barbell on an elevated platform to allow a reduced range of motion, if necessary.
  2. Step right up to the bar with your shins almost against it, and your feet planted firmly hip-width apart. Keep your chest up, your shoulders back and down and your spine straight.
  3. Now, hinge down slowly from your hips, softening your knees and bending them as your hips sink low enough to grab the bar in an alternating or “over-under” grip. Place your hands shoulder-width apart and one palm facing forward while the other faces back.
  4. Take the time to check your core posture again: Your chest should be up and open, shoulders back and your spine should be straight and long.
  5. Now, engage all the muscles of your core to maintain this position. Push your feet into the floor – as if you were trying to push the floor away from you – and lift the bar up. Imagine pushing your hips forward as you pull your knees back.
  6. Finish this movement by lifting your chest and engaging your lats for stabilizing the bar in front of your hips.
  7. Hold this position for a few seconds and then return the bar by reversing the motion. Push your weight back into your hips and softening your knees, while letting the bar travel a controlled path back down to the floor along your body.

See the Barbell Traditional Deadlift exercise on Youtube here!


Now, as you’ve learned 10+ leg curl alternative exercises, there is a lot you can try out for yourself. But there is much more prepared for you:


What’s Next?

These exercises mentioned above are mainly working your hamstring and calves muscles, but what about the remaining leg muscles?

Check our detailed guide on your perfect lower body (legs) workout routine.


When working out, especially with heavy weight exercises like deadlift, squat etc, it’s extremely important to proper warm-up your muscles.

Learn how you can warm-up with a great cardio & sprinting routine here so you can crush your fitness goals without risking any kind of injury.


Additionally, nutrition is very important too. When performing heavy workouts, you have to constantly fuel your body with healthy foods. Find a detailed guide on nutrition here with tips, tricks and foods list you can choose from.


Finally, some of our leg curl alternative exercises above are performed with free weights and some of them with the use of machines. What is better and what should you choose for your workouts?

Get answers to these questions in our latest comparison on free weights vs machines.


Now It’s Your Turn

Thanks again for getting this far and reading our guide on leg curl alternative exercises.

If you enjoyed reading this guide and learned some new tips for yourself, please share this guide everywhere you want to help as many people as possible to reach their fitness goals.

Now, get out there and try some of the new workouts you found here!


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