Hamstring Curls With Resistance Bands

The biceps curl of the lower body – the hamstring curl. It is also called leg curl by some people. Whatever the name, this exercise is great to isolate the rear part of the legs and give additional stimulus for the hamstrings. Leg curls are not a replacement for heavy lower body compound exercises like squats and especially deadlifts, but by implementing specific isolation exercises in your workout routine, it will also be quite beneficial for your compounds movements.

In gyms, you have to look for specific machines to work out your hams directly. Back in my gym days, these machines never felt quite right, regardless of whether I used the sitting or lying down machines. When I started implementing resistance bands in my training and tried hamstring curls, I was surprised how much activation I felt in the muscles and how easy the set-up was.

So say goodbye to waiting for machines at the gym to work on your hams and say hello to only needing a little resistance band to get great results. One little advice before we get started: Getting a set of bands with various resistance levels is a great idea. This way you can adjust the resistance much better and equally be able to do isolation and compound exercises. In case you still don’t have a set, check out our set right here: Resistance Bands Set

We will cover every important point to keep in mind on the hamstring curls. You will learn what steps to follow to get a perfect leg curl, including a how-to video with different band types. Followed by variations and background information about effectivity of resistance band training for hamstrings. To make it complete, we will discuss how you can incorporate leg curls into workouts and workout programs.

How To Do Hamstring Curls The Right Way With Resistance Bands?

To prepare your body and muscles for resistance training, always warm up. This way, you will be able to handle greater loads and minimize any risk for injuries.

Besides your body and a resistance band with the right resistance level, you won’t be needing anything else. I would suggest using a lighter band in the beginning. You will be doing the hamstring curl one leg at a time and the band will be doubled, so you don’t need very thick bands in this set up. And I really recommend wearing socks and shoes… You want to protect your skin from the friction of the band, trust me.

To only have to focus on the exercise and keep the balancing out of the picture, I like to place one hand on something to stabilize my body. You can use a door knob, a table or simply a wall will do as well.

The following steps explain how to do a correct leg curl:

  1. Stand on the band with one foot and wrap the band around the ankle of the other
  2. Hold the loose side of the band with one hand for stability
  3. Lock the knee of your working leg in place and curl the heel towards your glutes
  4. Return slowly to the starting position (resist against the pull of the band)
  5. Repeat for reps (Don’t forget the other side!)

Common Mistakes

⓵ Rushed reps – one of the biggest mistakes I see people doing – and it is not limited to the hamstring curl – is that they just go through the motion and usually rush their repetitions. Only if you really focus on the exercise execution, you will also reap the results the exercise promises. Keep your focus on the exercise speed and the control of the movement. Especially the negative part of the curl is very important for results. Really resist against the pull of the band while lowering your foot.

⓶ Partial range of motion – by doing just a fraction of the full range of motion in any exercise, you will also only reap a portion of the results and progress. It is especially true for isolation exercises where the range of motion is quite short anyway. Focus on bringing your heel towards your glutes as much as possible, and bring your shin at least parallel to the floor.

⓷ Too little workout volume – The hamstrings are one of the biggest muscles in our body. That’s why they also need quite some sets and reps until you build up enough stimulus for them to grow and become stronger. In the last section, we have a look at how to incorporate leg curls into workout programs.

To get your training with resistance bands to the next level, check out our full article on the general common mistakes people do when using bands: The Worst Mistakes You Can Do When Training With Resistance Bands

Alternative Ways To Do Leg Curls With Resistance Bands

The two best variations to the hamstring curl version we showed you so far are the lying and the sitting variation. It is great to change it up once in a while to keep the workouts engaging and to perform different movement patterns with your body. For both variations, you will be needing a door anchor to secure the band. If you don’t have one, check out this one right here: Door Anchor

Lying Hamstring Curl – with this variation you will need half the time, since you will work both legs at the same time. Also, this set-up is great to really focus on the muscle contraction and don’t have to worry about any balancing. To prevent yourself from slipping towards the anchor point, I recommend using a yoga mat.

Step-by-Step:

  1. Attach the band towards the bottom of a door with a door anchor
  2. Wrap the resistance bands around both of your ankles
  3. Lie down flat on your stomach on the floor
  4. Curl your feet towards your glutes without raising your hips or lower back
  5. Return slowly to the starting position (resist against the pull of the band)
  6. Repeat for reps

Small Extra Tip: A great wrap to use to really have the band secure around your ankles is shown in the following image. This way, you can walk forward safely and don’t have to worry about the band slipping around.

Hamstring curl leg wrap

Chair Hamstring Curl – This variation is quite challenging since it also incorporates a balancing aspect. Your abs will be active throughout the exercise to stabilize your body and keeping your feet off the floor. A huge advantage is that you can actually adjust the resistance by moving the chair position further away from the anchor point or closer towards it. This way you can really dial in the right level of resistance to get the job done.

Step-by-Step:

  1. Attach the band towards the bottom of a door with a door anchor
  2. Wrap the resistance bands around both of your ankles
  3. Walk back and sit down on a chair – Sit close to the front edge of the chair
  4. Lift your feet off the floor
  5. Curl your feet towards you until you reach at least a 90-degree angle in your knees
  6. Return slowly to the starting position (resist against the pull of the band)
  7. Repeat for reps

The BIQ App

Take training with resistance bands to the next level with our free app.

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How To Make Progress

Great methods to increase the resistance for hamstring curls are:

Shorten The Band – the easiest and most basic method to increase the resistance of a given band is to make it shorter. Simply by reducing the effective length of a band, you will increase the tension during the movement and therefore the resistance.

Adding a lighter Band – I always have the lightest band of my set ready to be used during my workouts. If I feel that the sets get too easy, I simply add this little bad boy to the band I currently use and see how well I can handle the adjusted resistance.

BUT: Increasing the resistance is not always the right answer to make progress. You need to give your body time to adjust. Muscles get used to a given resistance quite fast, but our joints and tendons need much more time to adjust and become more stable. Luckily, there are various methods to increase the intensity without adding resistance.

Slow down the reps – moving greater loads is one way to increase the intensity of an exercise, another great way is to increase the total time under tension. Try slowing down the exercise speed and see how well your muscles can handle the new stimulus. Usually you will have to lower the resistance drastically to be able to perform the same number of reps.

Paused reps – this one is my personal favorite – especially for isolation exercises. By simply adding a pause in the full contracted position, you will really test your strength. This method is also great for your joints and tendons.

Can You Train Hamstrings Effectively With Resistance Bands?

Resistance bands used to be only tools for injury recovery and mobility work. But this is a thing of the past. Nowadays, you can very easily and cheaply get a set of resistance bands which will be able to generate enough resistance to build muscles, strength or help you to burn fat. This is not different when it comes to hamstring training. I would even argue that bands are superior to weights for this exercise. Especially the setting up is very simple, and the peak contraction is amazing.

So my answer is Yes, Yes, Yes. But I’m also a big fan and experienced the benefits already. You should simply try it and make your own decision. I promise you will be satisfied.

Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work

The quick and dirty reasoning is: your muscles (anybodies muscles) simply don’t care where the resistance comes from – it simply responds to a load by adapting and becoming stronger.

So there is no difference between the resistance which is created by weights and gravity, compared to the resistance generated by the tension created by bands when you stretch them.

To get in depth information about this topic, check out our full article: Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work

Benefits Of Training With Resistance Bands

There are quite some benefits resistance band training brings along. We wrote a full article on this topic, and you can check it out right here: Benefits Of Resistance Band Training

But here is a sneak peek and some hamstring curl specific benefits:

  • Greater Peak Contraction! – Since bands have linear variable resistance, you will get a greater peak contraction and therefore a greater muscles stimulus.
  • No Cheating! – By using resistance bands, you will be forced to do the exercise with good form because of the constant tension bands create.
  • Train anywhere! – You can literally do your workouts anywhere and bring the bands, even on work trips or vacations, along. This way, you can plan your workouts much more flexible around your private life and don’t have to compromise.

What Muscles Are Used In A Resistance Band Leg Curl

The leg curl is an isolation exercise for the hamstrings. Therefore, the hamstrings are the main muscles which will be working. The hamstrings are responsible for bending or curling your leg. They are the direct counterpart of the quads, which make up the front of your upper leg. Besides the hamstrings, the calves will be also active during this exercise to support the movement.

Main Working Muscles:

  • Hamstrings

Supporting Muscles:

  • Calves

Workout Plan

Only doing an isolation exercise for your hamstrings probably won’t give you the results you’re looking for. Especially when it comes to the lower body, compound exercises like deadlifts and squats are of the utmost importance.

The only way to really make progress in the long run is by following a thought out and structured workout program. But creating it yourself can be quite a hustle and will cost time to research. That’s why we did all that for you and put it all in an app. You can have workouts, challenges and complete exercise library available in your pocket at all times. Find out more here: BIQ Training App

The BIQ App

Take training with resistance bands to the next level with our free app.

  • 800+ Exercises
  • all band types
  • different training goals & workouts
  • challenges
  • much more

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