Exercising muscles with weights provides a variety of health benefits to adults regardless of age. Stronger muscles look aesthetically pleasing and give you more endurance and speed, better balance, a higher rate of metabolism and a reduced risk of osteoporosis. Weighted reverse leg curls primarily work your buttocks and hamstring muscles. Consult with a personal trainer to determine if this exercise is appropriate for your level of fitness and strength, and ask your doctor about how weight training might benefit you.
Walking and running are cardiovascular exercises that primarily involve your leg and buttock muscles, but neither activity actually builds additional muscle or significantly strengthens muscles. According to the book, “Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach,” increasing muscle size and strength depends on overloading muscle fibers until they slightly tear, which forces your body to repair the fibers and leads to an increase in fiber diameter and load-bearing capability. Overloading muscles requires resistance, and weight training is a convenient and safe way to provide resistance.
Weighted Reverse Leg Curls
Most gyms have reverse leg curl machines, many requiring you to lie prone. The main principle is to hook the back of your lower legs around some form of resistance and pull the weight toward your buttocks, trying to bring your heels as close to your gluteal muscles as possible. Without a machine, you can kneel down, get your workout partner to hold your feet securely, and then lower your torso slowly to the mat into a pushup position and back up again. It’s like an abdominal crunch in reverse. According to the “Atlas of Human Anatomy,” doing a reverse leg curl against resistance primarily works out the gluteus maximus muscle of the buttocks and the hamstrings of the posterior thigh, but it also challenges the lower-back and calf muscles.
Gluteal and Hamstring Muscles
The gluteal and hamstrings muscles are essential for walking and running, particularly during the extension phase when your legs swing backward. Virtually all competitive athletes train their gluteals and hamstrings in order to run, jump, climb, kick or skate faster, although nonathletes and the elderly can benefit from the better balance, stability and endurance that the strong muscles provide. When at the gym, you should be able to do at least 12 to 15 repetitions of reverse leg curls if the weight is appropriate and your technique is good, according to the book, “Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance.” Aim for at least four sets of 15 repetitions two times per week in order to increase your strength.
Stretch all your leg and buttock muscles before and after each workout to reduce your risk of strains. Weight training is usually not recommended for people with significant heart issues, advanced arthritic conditions or high blood pressure.
- Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach; Dee Silverthorn and William Ober
- Atlas of Human Anatomy; Frank H. Netter
- Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance; William D. McArdle et al.