Hamstring muscles are the ones located in the back of your thigh and they are highly important for the stabilization of your knee joints and also help to carry very heavy loads, so it is imperative to train them on a regular basis.
Having strong, well-developed hamstrings is one of the key components to building a solid core and it’s also great for performing other exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and lots more. Let’s dive in and look at some of the best hamstring isolation exercises.
Seated leg curls
Seated leg curls are one of the best hamstring exercises to develop strength and size in this muscle group. When performing seated leg curls you should keep the movement smooth and controlled throughout each rep. The main purpose of this exercise is to attack the upper portion of your hamstring muscle – the part that runs down the back of your leg from where it meets the glutes to where it meets the bottom of your calf.
Here is how you do seated leg curls:
- Sit down on a leg curl machine with your knees bent and your feet flat on the footpad.
- Adjust the machine so that the pad is in line with your kneecap.
- Place your hands on the handles to support your body.
- Curl your legs up as far as possible without moving your upper body.
- Hold the contraction for a count of two.
- Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Seated leg curls are the exercise of choice to develop upper hamstring strength and size. They are good for athletes involved in sprinting sports or kicking sports who need to have a strong lower back, glutes, and hamstrings to generate power during their explosive movement.
Lying leg curls
Lying leg curls are an exercise that targets your hamstrings. They are considered to be an isolation exercise for your hamstrings, as you can’t recruit much help from your back muscles or the rest of your lower body.
With the leg curl machine, you’re involved in a single joint movement that allows you to isolate variations of the hamstrings. The machine itself comes in two formats: horizontal and vertical. While performing this exercise, you’ll be able to lift a maximum amount of weight because your knees are cushioned by the pad. The leg curl exercise employs a relatively low amount of bodyweight since most of your body is supported by the pad, making it an excellent exercise for beginners.
To do lying leg curls:
- Adjust the machine so that the pad is positioned over your lower legs (just above your ankles) when you lie down on it.
- Choose a weight and attach it to the machine.
- Lie face down on the machine and position your legs so that your knees are just off the edge of the pad.
- Curl your legs up as far as you can without lifting your hips off the pad.
- Slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Since you can’t recruit much help from the rest of your body to perform leg curls, this exercise provides a good stretch for your hamstrings. However, keep in mind that the effectiveness of this exercise depends largely on your form. Make sure that you don’t allow momentum to carry you past the extension range. The leg curl machine will allow you to lift a good amount of weight while allowing you to focus on muscle contraction rather than stabilization, making it an ideal hamstring isolation exercise.
Lying dumbbell leg curls
Lying dumbbell leg curls are an excellent exercise for the hamstrings. This exercise should be done at the beginning of your hamstring workout as it fatigues the muscles a bit more than regular leg curls.
Unlike other similar exercises such as bent-knee hyperextensions, lying dumbbell leg curls cause very little stress to the knee joint because there is no knee extension when the dumbbell is lowered.
How to do lying dumbbell leg curls:
- Lie face down on a bench with your knees hanging off the end or lie face down on the floor.
- Place a dumbbell between your ankles and curl your legs up towards your butt, keeping your hips and upper body flat on the bench.
- Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Lying dumbbell leg curls are an excellent isolation exercise for the hamstrings. No other exercise is as effective. Due to no knee flexion on the negative portion of the rep, this exercise eliminates any stress on the knees than other exercises may cause. It is best to perform this movement at the beginning of a workout due to it fatigues the muscle a little more than regular leg curls.
Single leg lying leg curl
The single-leg lying leg curl primarily works the hamstring muscles but also recruits assistance from the gluteus maximus. The single-leg lying leg curl targets smaller heads of both the biceps femoris and semitendinosus muscles primarily while engaging both the gracilis and adductor magnus to a lesser degree. This exercise is important for injury prevention when running, jumping, and kicking. It is also necessary for a proper lunge position which can be used for building explosive power for sports like football and basketball.
How to do single-leg lying leg curl:
- Lie facing down on a leg curl machine with one leg extended straight and the other leg bent at the knee with the foot placed against the padded lever.
- Adjust the machine so that the lever is in line with your bent knee.
- Curl the lever up as far as possible without moving your hips or upper body.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
The single-leg lying leg curl is an exercise that should be considered for the hamstring exercise program. It needs to be incorporated into a strength training program designed to improve speed and agility. The single-leg lying leg curl is not only a single muscle exercise; it also involves several muscles which is important when looking at the complex energy systems used in today’s sports, running, and even everyday activities like walking or performing manual labor.
Lying single leg cable curls
Lying single-leg cable curls are a great glute exercise. This exercise is done to strengthen the muscles of the glutes. The lying leg curl makes use of your ankle straps which are attached to your foot. This particular exercise makes you stand in an upright position hence working on your leg muscles. To strengthen the upper part of your legs, you can lie down prone on the bench and rest each ankle on a padded roll for support.
Here is how you do Lying single leg cable curls:
- Attach ankle straps to your ankles and lie down on your back on a flat bench.
- Place your hands on the bench for support.
- Bend one knee and bring your foot up towards your glutes.
- Keeping your upper leg still, curl your lower leg up towards your glutes.
- Hold for a count of two and then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat with the other leg.
Lying leg curls are one of the most effective glute exercises that you can do in your home gyms. Apart from building sexy and powerful legs, this exercise will also help in burning fat from your thighs, hips, and buttocks faster. And because it is really simple to do, it makes an ideal addition to any beginner’s workout plan or whenever you are pressed for time.
Isolation exercises help to build muscle individually and in some cases, they can be more efficient than compound movements. Since hamstring muscles cover such a large area, compound movements do not allow you to fully target the individual muscles of hamstrings. So these are the best hamstring isolation exercises to target your backside.