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Alternative Exercises to Leg Curls

author image Van Thompson
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.
Alternative Exercises to Leg Curls
Lunges Photo Credit Dana Bartekoske/iStock/Getty Images

Leg curls are highly customizable exercises that can be done in a wide variety of positions. Curls target your hamstrings while using muscles such as your quadriceps and glutes as stabilizers. If you can't stand the thought of one more leg curl, though, you can choose from a variety of other exercises that offer a similar workout.

Deadlifts for Strength

Deadlifts target much of your lower body, including your thighs, butt and back. To perform a deadlift, position a barbell on the ground about an inch from your shins. Stand up straight, then bend your knees while keeping your spine straight. Grasp the barbell in an overhand position, then slowly lift it until you are in a standing position. Your arms should be straight, and the weight should hit around the top of your thighs.

Breathing Through Yoga

Yoga poses can help you improve your balance and strength, and you can use them to directly target your hamstrings. Try a Downward-Facing Dog. Stand up straight, then slowly bend your torso down until your hands touch the ground. Balance on your toes, with your arms and legs both at diagonal angles. Next, try a child's pose. Sit with your calves underneath your thighs and bend your torso down, extending your arms straight out. You'll feel a stretch in your hamstrings. For both poses, focus on breathing slowly and steadily, and hold for at least 30 seconds.

Using Your Bodyweight

Bodyweight exercises use your body's own weight as the source of resistance and are ideal if you want to avoid the gym. Try a lunge. Step forward so that your front foot is about 3 feet from your back foot. While keeping your spine straight and bending your knees, lower your torso toward the ground so that both your front and back knees form 90-degree angles. Return to your starting position and perform five to 10 reps. Then try a squat. Stand with your spine straight, then bend your knees to lower your rear down and backward as if you're sitting in an invisible chair. Hold for one count, then rise back up and repeat five to 10 times. For an added challenge, try holding weights as you perform these exercises.

Stretching Your Legs

After you've finished your workout, try stretching your hamstrings. For an easy stretch, sit up straight with your legs extended straight out in front of you, and bend your torso down over your legs to touch your toes. Hold for 30 seconds. Next, lie in front of a wall corner such that the corner is level with your hips. Lift your leg, pressing it up against the corner until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.

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