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Fact checked by Kirsten Yovino, CPT Brookbush InstituteFACT CHECKED
December 23, 2021
The hamstrings, which is made up of three muscles that reside in the back of the upper leg, are essential to having a strong lower body, injury resilient hips and knees, and overall a well-functioning, athletic body.
We all know that training the hamstrings is important. You can do stiff-leg deadlifts, RDLs, hip thrusts, and kettlebell swings to strengthen and build your hamstrings. And, when it comes to isolating the hamstrings, the leg curl machine is great! But what if you don't have access to a leg curl machine or you simply want to switch things up and challenge your muscles in new ways? That's where the banded leg curl comes into play...
A banded leg curl or resistance band leg curl can be done with a simple set up nearly anywhere. All you have to do is loop the band around a stable object like a pole or the foot of your bed frame, and then get into position where resistance is going against knee flexion (curling your legs). You can do this standing, lying or even from a seated position.
As for resistance, the band uses elasticity to create the tension. This means you can create resistance in any direction. The size of the band you use will determine how heavy it is. Moreover, due to the nature of resistance bands, the more it is stretched, the more resistance it has, so you can control the resistance by how taut the band is from the start.
To do leg curls, you will need 41 inch loop resistance bands, which we will go over now...
The band you choose for leg curls will determine the resistance or weight used. 41 inch loop resistance bands start at around 5-10 pounds and go up to 170 pounds, making it perfect for working out at any level of fitness.
The size or resistance level is based on the width of the band, but all bands will have a 41-inch loop. So, the thinner the bands width, the lower the resistance.
If you are a beginner or recovering from an injury, the lightest band will be best for leg curls, but for most, leg curls can be done with light to medium sized bands.
So, for the bands we sell and use, the yellow or black (and maybe the blue if you are strong) will be good for banded leg curls.
Here are the resistance bands we have for reference:
Here are some other variations of a leg curl using a resistance band:
Single-Leg Lying Leg Curl With Resistance Band
Instead of attaching the band to both of your ankles, you attach it to a single ankle. You can also anchor the band to the opposite ankle if you don’t have something to anchor it to.
Standing Leg Curl With Resistance Band
This is the simplest variation. Put the band just above your ankles and begin lifting your foot against the resistance, alternating sides. Basically you have a low anchor point and you curl your leg as far back as you can toward your butt.
Seated Leg Curl With Resistance Band
Seated leg curls can be done with a chair as long as it has free space for your legs to move. You will anchor the band up above knee height, then loop the band around your ankle. Starting with your legs extended out straight, curl your legs down until your knees are at 90 degrees or less.
Another option is to anchor it up high above you (i.e. a pull up bar), then pull the band down and put your legs through it around your ankles then curl your legs. This would mimic a seated leg curl machine.
All in all, you will know if you are doing it right because you will feel tension and muscle engagement directly in your hamstrings, with no low back pain.
Leg curls are by far the best exercise to isolate, strengthen and develop your hamstrings. Band leg curls will improve your squats and deadlifts, and best of all, shape the back of your legs.
Banded leg curls primarily work your hamstrings. Your hamstrings are the posterior muscles that run between your hip and knee. The three muscles that make up the hamstring muscle group are the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris.
Depending on the type of leg curls you perform, your hamstrings will be worked a little differently and the range of motion will be greater or less. But in the end, any variation of the leg curl will work all three muscles of the hamstrings because they act on knee flexion, which is what a leg curl is!
Learn how to use bands in every way possible with our resistance band training e-guide...
As you can see, there are many reasons why resistance bands are beneficial - regardless if you’re looking to improve the strength, size, and function of the hamstrings. Banded leg curls target the hamstrings while protecting the joints to reduce injury while stimulating growth and strength. Making it a great option for at home or in the gym exercises.
You can finally isolate your hamstrings at home or in a hotel room without a bulky machine.
Related: Best Leg Curl Alternatives
More Band Resources:
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September 21, 2023
September 21, 2023
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