How To

Prone Leg Curl


The prone leg curl, also known as the lying leg curl, is an isolation exercise that targets the hamstrings, located at the back of the thigh. It’s commonly performed on a leg curl machine where the individual lies face down (prone) and curls weights upward using the legs.

How to Do the Prone Leg Curl


  • Approach the leg curl machine and adjust the machine’s settings to fit your body. This might include adjusting the leg pad and the length of the lever arm.
  • Select the desired weight on the machine.


  • Lie face down on the machine’s bench, ensuring your knees are just off the edge of the pad.
  • Position the padded lever of the machine on the back of your ankles.
  • Grip the handles on the sides of the machine for stability.

Curling Phase:

  • Exhale as you bend your knees and curl your legs up towards your buttocks. Ensure the movement is controlled and driven by the hamstrings.
  • Curl as far as comfortably possible, aiming to bring the heels close to the buttocks.

Returning Phase:

  • Inhale as you slowly and controlledly extend your legs back to the starting position.


  • Perform the desired number of repetitions.

Muscles Used

Primary Muscle:

  • Hamstrings: The main muscles targeted during the prone leg curl. They consist of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus.

Secondary Muscles:

  • Calves (Gastrocnemius): Engaged during the curling motion.

Benefits of the Prone Leg Curl

  1. Targeted Hamstring Development: The prone leg curl effectively isolates the hamstrings, making it an excellent exercise for targeted muscle growth in the back of the thighs.
  2. Injury Prevention: Strengthening the hamstrings can help balance the strength ratio between the quadriceps and hamstrings, potentially reducing the risk of injuries like hamstring strains.
  3. Improved Athletic Performance: Strong hamstrings contribute to better performance in many sports, especially those that involve running, jumping, and sudden accelerations or decelerations.

Common Mistakes

  1. Using Too Much Weight: This can lead to using momentum rather than muscle engagement, reducing the exercise’s effectiveness and increasing injury risk.
  2. Incomplete Range of Motion: Ensure you fully extend the legs at the start and curl them as much as comfortably possible to maximise muscle engagement.
  3. Lifting the Hips: Keep your hips and thighs pressed against the pad throughout the movement.
  4. Rapid Movements: Perform the exercise with controlled, deliberate motions to maximise muscle engagement and prevent injury.

The prone leg curl is a valuable exercise for isolating and strengthening the hamstrings. As with all exercises, proper form and technique are crucial for safety and maximising benefits.

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