It is the final week of the “Gain Muscle not Fat” Challenge!
Our group is growing day by day and I am beyond excited to repeat this challenge all over again. Before we do that, we still have to push through this last week of torture though. This week is quite different and the workouts are focused on building muscle while burning a lot of calories. You might be very sore, so listen to your body and take extra rest days.
If you haven’t tried these variations of hamstring curls, make sure to do so! You will be very sore though, so don’t forget to stretch thoroughly and use a foam roller afterwards.
Hit your Hamstring Curls
Hamstring Curl is one of the best exercise to isolate the back of the thighs – hamstrings. Strengthening this muscle is crucial for healthy knees. The hamstrings help to bend your knees and are the antagonists to your quadriceps – the front of your thighs. To protect your joints, you should strengthen both muscles, along with your glutes, to create balance in your lower body.
I will shortly cover the different variations of Hamstring Curls, but today, I would like to focus more on Hamstring Curls on the Balance Ballor using a towel.
Basic Hamstring Curls using a machine
This is the most basic of all hamstring exercises. It is very effective to build strength safely and you will solely work your hamstrings. Make sure to contract your core and glutes at all times, as those will get activated as well. As you curl the weight up, don’t let your foot drop down quickly but resist the weight. This is the eccentric part of the motion (because the hamstrings get stretched in this position) and contributes to muscle growth and strength.
Home Hamstring Curls
If you don’t have access to a machine, you can do single-legged or bilateral hamstring curls with ankle weightsor resistance bands. These are very effective to build shape and strength and should not lack in your workouts. They will also target your glutes and you don’t need much weight for these to feel the burn.
Hamstring Curls with Dumbbells
You can perform these either at the gym or at home. Make sure to put a pillow below your feet, so that you don’t damage your floor if you let the dumbbellfall down accidentally. Squeeze your hamstrings really tight, as if you were using the machine.
Hamstring Curls on the Balance Ball
Hamstring Curl on the Balance Ball is my favorite exercise to target the hamstrings, build core strength and the glutes. This exercise is much harder than the other versions above but it is worth practising it. Anything that our body has trouble performing is actually what might be the best for your health. Think of single-legged squats, hand stands, those exercises require full body balance and strength and will contribute to your every day life as well (so-called “functional training”).
I recommend you try this exercise and perform 5 repetitions maximum. Even if you can only do one full repetition, you will get better as you progress.
The key to this exercise is to push through your heels at all times and keep your pelvis tucked in. You should never try to lift your hips as high as you can, as that will put a lot of pressure on your lower back. Instead, keep your hips low but contract your core and glutes very tight, the whole time.
As soon as you feel you cannot hold the position anymore – stop. Do regular hamstring curls or glute bridges instead, to build up strength. But don’t give up on this exercise – it will give your hamstrings a really nice curvy shape and reduce cellulite as well. Just keep practising!
Single-legged Hamstring Curls on a Ball
This is the single-legged version and it is by far the most challenging hamstring exercise in existence. If you can lift really heavy during deadlifts, you will find that this exercise performed bodyweight will leave you breathless after 4 repetitions.
Hamstring Curls using a towel
This exercise is the home variation if you don’t have a balance ball.However, this is actually far more challenging than the version on the ball.
Here, the leverage is different, as your legs are closer to the floor. You have no option to “cheat” and use other muscles to perform the exercise.
Your hamstrings, core and glutes will be on fire. If you have trouble performing this exercise, don’t extend your legs thus far and keep the movement closer to your body. Also, you can build up strength by performing elevated glute bridges and regular hamstring curls.
Lastly, I would like to share this video, explaining proper form for the hamstring curls on the balance ball:
Again, don’t give up on this exercise and keep practising. Challenges like this make fitness fun.
Focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like!
Have you tried these exercises before? Let me know what you think in the comment section. If you found this article useful, share it on social media please! I would like to help as many people as possible.
Wish you all a wonderful day!