Sunday, June 8, 2014

Lying Leg Curl

  This is the most drooled on piece of equipment at the gym.
  Main Muscle Group: Hamstrings
  Secondary Muscle(s): None
  Exercise Type: Strength
  Equipment Required: Machine
  Co-ordination: High, this is awkward to position yourself correctly and look ‘cool’
  Mechanics: Isolation
  Force Type: Pull
  Experience Level: Beginner

Now what:
1.     The lying leg curl is a great exercise to isolate the hamstrings. Set up for the leg curl by selecting the heft you want to heave on the stack and adjusting the padding to suit your leg length.  I am tall, but often think I follow a giraffe on this machine, people will not judge you on the specs that you leave the machine, so be honest to avoid injury.  (Ankle adjustment low to embellish long legs and 50kg left to heave on leg curl stack is not going to fool anyone when you are 160cm tall and 60kg in structure. Just saying… we have camera surveillance. I see all!)
2.        Lay face down on the machine. As mentioned often, “This piece of equipment is the one that gets the most action or attention in the gym”, apart from the abductor, adductor… that deserves another blog entirely.
3.        The padding should be positioned just above the back of your ankles. If it's higher than that, adjust the length, measure your height, and acknowledge that what you see in the mirror actually has shorter limbs.

4.        Tense up the hamstrings by taking the weight slightly off the stack. This is the starting position for the exercise.
5.        Squeeze the hamstrings and curl the mass up as far as conceivable.

6.        Squeeze the hamstring hard, and then slowly release the movement back to the starting position.
7.        Repeat for desired reps or as requested by personal trainer.
Performance pointer:
1.     Common mistakes with the leg curl;
    ·      Moving the weight up and down too fast
·      Not using a full range of motion.
·      Not controlling the weight throughout the set. Don't use momentum to move the weight up, and don't allow it to drop back down quickly.
2.    Always use a full range of motion by curling the weight up as far as possible and lowering it as far as possible   without the weight dropping on the stack.

In all honesty, this exercise has recently been given a bad wrap.  It is a piece of equipment available in the gym, so I just want to ensure that we are using it correctly.  Personally, I like this.  I am focusing on a particular muscle, if I keep belly to the pad, and concentrate on no back arch; I think I am all good. 

By the way, did anybody else notice how awkward it is to get in and out of this machine? Between this and the 45% leg press, I definitely left grace and co-ordination at the door.  Dare you to do it gracefully. The only time your hamstrings will ever work in isolation is when you do this exercise. The hamstrings are meant to act in unison with the glutes and lower back, so training them alone only leads to imbalances, especially in the posterior chain—the interrelated muscles on the back side of your body that are responsible for explosive speed and power. And ‘apparently’, that's not just bad, it's a catastrophe, because a faulty posterior chain can leave you with an excruciating hamstring pull—even if you're just out for a jog.

How about the weighted 45- degree back extension? Use a back extension apparatus while holding a weight plate to your chest. This exercise works the hamstrings, spinal erectors, and glutes together. While you'll probably never find yourself in a leg-curl position outside the gym, you'll always be bending forward to pick things up off the floor, (if you are clumsy like me), and the back extension trains all the muscles that make that possible.  (There is a great one-legged extension for the back that I am sure I will share in the month to come.)

Rumor is out that a ‘dead lift’ is also a good alternate exercise; heavy barbell weight, stretch down calf, a nice movement, but you are inviting other muscles to play so it is definitely not isolated.

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