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Leg curls strengthen your hamstring muscles.
To give your thighs a strong overall workout, add leg extensions and leg curls to your exercise routine. Leg extensions focus on the quadriceps muscles at the front of your thighs, while leg curls hit the hamstrings at the back of each thigh. You can perform both exercises in your home gym, whether you own a leg machine or you use a resistance band.
Machine Leg Extensions
If your home gym includes a leg station, you can probably adjust the machine to perform both leg extensions and curls. Set the resistance pad in its lower position to do leg curls. The pad should rest just above your ankles as you sit in the machine's seat, with the backs of your knees positioned against the seat's front edge. Push against the resistance pad, engaging your quads to raise your legs until they're fully extended. Lower your legs slowly to the starting position. Only your lower legs, from the knee down, should move during the exercise. Keep your back, hips and thighs firmly against the machine's backrest and seat.
Machine Leg Curls
Set the resistance pad of your home leg machine at its higher level, then place the backs of your ankles on top of the pad. Your legs should be fairly straight in front of you as you sit in the seat. Push down on the pad, engaging your hamstrings to curl your legs back as far as possible. Only your lower legs, from the knee down, should move. Return slowly and with control to the starting position.
Resistance-Band Leg Extensions
To perform seated leg extensions with a resistance band, all you need is a chair and a resistance band. Secure one end of the band to the chair's right rear leg. Wrap the loose end around your right ankle. Alternatively, attach the loose end of the band to a cuff and then place the cuff around your ankle. Sit straight in the chair with both feet on the floor. Adjust the band, if necessary, so it's taut. Lift your right foot, engaging your quads, and extend your leg in front of you as far as you can, ideally until your leg should be close to parallel with the floor. Return slowly to the starting position. Try to keep your body as still as you can -- other than the lower leg you're exercising -- and don't let your thighs lift off the chair. Perform the exercise with both legs.
Resistance-Band Leg Curls
Anchor a resistance band to a spot near the floor -- such as a weight rack or the leg of a sturdy table -- then sit in a chair facing the anchor point. Tie the non-anchored end of the band around both ankles and position the chair so the band is taut when your legs are extended in the air in front of you with your knees flexed slightly. Bend your knees, engaging your hamstrings, and pull on the resistance of the band to move your heels as far back toward your body as you can. Try not to move your upper body and thighs, and keep your thighs and knees on the chair. Return slowly and with control to the starting position.
Speak with your doctor before attempting a new exercise routine, especially if you've been inactive or have any health issues. Warm up before performing your thigh exercises with five to 10 minutes of light cardio activity, then do some dynamic stretches. Your stretches may include walking with high knees or butt kicks for your quads, and lunges or straight leg kicks for your hamstrings. Perform 10 to 15 leg curls and extensions per set, using sufficient weight -- or a sufficiently tight resistance band -- so your final repetitions are challenging.