It's leg day, and you can't make it to the gym. Make do with the equipment you have at home. Although some exercises are tricky to perform without specialized gym machines, you can manage most of them with a little improvisation. Case in point: the prone, or lying, leg curl. Although usually performed with a gym machine, you can also do prone leg curls at home with a single dumbbell.
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Steps to Perform the Lying Leg Curl
Choose a lighter dumbbell than you think you’ll need at first, until you’re comfortable with the exercise. It'll take some finesse to get the hang of gripping the dumbbell with your feet.
Place the dumbbell on the floor, standing on one end. Lie down on the floor, on your stomach, with your legs straight and feet close to the dumbbell. Place your feet on either side of the dumbbell handle.
Squeeze the dumbbell between your feet and bend your knees to lift it off the floor. The top weight on the dumbbell will rest on the bottom of your feet.
Bend your knees slowly up toward your butt, keeping the bottoms of your feet facing the ceiling throughout the movement. Slowly lower the weight back down. Stop just before the dumbbell touches the floor; repeat.
Perform the exercise lying on a flat bench if you'd like more of a challenge at the bottom of the movement; the bench allows you to straighten your legs completely.
The lying leg curl targets the hamstrings, which are the muscles at the back of your thigh. You'll also engage your adductors, or inner thighs, as you squeeze the dumbbell tightly with your feet.
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Avoid hitching your hips up as you bend your knees to pull the weight toward your buttocks. Ensure you have a good foot grip on the dumbbell before you initiate the movement, too. It'll definitely get your attention should you drop the weight mid exercise.
A potentially safer alternative to the lying leg curl is a supine leg curl using a stability ball. Lie on your back with your feet on a stability ball. Raise your hips and bend your knees to pull the ball toward you. Extend your legs to complete one repetition.