5 Leg Curl Alternatives for a Strong and Flexible Hamstring

Leg Curl Alternative exercises are a great way to strengthen your hamstrings. (Image via Unsplash / Amol Sonar)
Leg Curl Alternative exercises are a great way to strengthen your hamstrings. (Image via Unsplash / Amol Sonar)

If you’re looking for leg curl alternatives, try out exercises that target your hamstrings. Your hamstrings—consisting of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus muscles—are located at the back of your thighs and are responsible for extending (straightening) your knees and flexing (bending) your hips.

Stretching out your hamstrings before and after a long run will help prevent injuries. Leg curls help strengthen them, so they can handle intense cardio workouts.

If you strengthen your hamstrings, you’ll be able to do more lower-back exercises, including squats, deadlifts, and lunges. Stronger hamstrings will help you prevent injuries, stay focused on your workout, and improve explosiveness and power.

5 Best Leg Curl Alternative Exercises

Here are a few leg curl alternatives that will strengthen both your core and hamstrings:

1) Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are an excellent leg curl alternative exercise that will target more muscles than leg curls. You’ll use your entire body, including your lower back and core muscles.


Here's how to do it:

  • Stand with your feet together and your knees bent slightly and hold the kettlebell with both hands on its handle.
  • Start it between your knees, then swing it up until both arms are straight in front of you, fully extended.
  • Swing the kettlebell back down between your legs and behind you while keeping it close to your body so it doesn't hit anything.
  • Do this for 5-10 reps until you finish the move.

2) Good Mornings

Good mornings are a great leg curl alternative exercise to strengthen your core and hamstrings. They can be done with a barbell loaded with weight plates or without weights.


Here's how to do good mornings:

  • To get into position, stand under the barbell rack and bend down, so your stomach is parallel to the floor.
  • Then straighten your body again, returning to the standing position.
  • Use a heavy weight for an explosive move to get your body standing back up straight again or use a slightly lighter weight for a slow raise.
  • Either way, both are beneficial for different reasons.

3) Reverse Lunges

Reverse lunges are a great leg alternative exercise for targeting your hamstrings. Adding some weight to your lunges can really help you build strong, lean legs. A sandbag, kettlebell, or baby (if you have one) will do the trick!


Here's how to do reverse lunges:

  • To do the reverse lunge, start by stepping backward as far as you can manage, then bend your knee until it is just above the ground.
  • Make sure your back is straight and that your core is tight.
  • Point your toe forward and ensure that you keep your leg aligned with your body so that it doesn’t go outside or inside shoulder width.
  • Focus on keeping everything aligned for maximum effectiveness.

4) Single-Leg Extension

This is a great leg curl alternative exercise to do at home. If you want to challenge yourself even more, add weights to your workout. Take a barbell and place it on top of your hips, with plates on either side, so that it rests there when you do your hip thrusts.


Here's how to do it:

  • Lie on your back with your knees slightly raised and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Raise one leg until it's straight, and lower it back down, then repeat with the other leg.
  • As you lift your hips, feel the pull in your core and hamstrings.
  • If you feel strain in your neck, focus on keeping it relaxed.

5) Single-Leg Deadlift

The single-leg deadlift not only strengthens your hamstrings, glutes, and other muscles in your posterior chain but also improves your balance.


Here's how to do a single-leg deadlift exercise:

  • Stabd with your feet together, then hinge forward at the waist, keeping your back and neck straight.
  • While hinging forward, raise your left knee as high as possible without moving your hips.
  • Slowly lower back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps. Repeat on the other side.


Of course, leg curl alternatives should always vary. Never do the same type of hamstring exercises for more than a few consecutive weeks. Your body and mind will adjust to the movements, and you'll stop seeing results.

By alternating between these different types of workouts, you'll keep your body guessing and constantly challenge yourself as your body keeps building strength.

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Edited by Susrita Das