Let’s say you show up at a gym and you look at your program for the day. For some reason it says you’re supposed to find a seated hamstring curl machine, or in a pinch a prone (laying face down) hamstring curl, because apparently the only way you can work your hamstrings is by sitting or laying down.
You look around and find there isn’t a hamstring curl machine in the place. I mean, what is this place, a Pilates studio or something!?!??
So what are you going to do? Your trainer told you to use a machine to isolate your hamstrings for that deep juicy burn, but you can’t find a way of getting the job done.
Say no more, fam. I got your hook up right here.
Today I’m going to show a bunch of different ways you can isolate your hamstrings without a machine, and in many cases get a much better workout. I’d be remiss to say you couldn’t also get the hamstrings to work with some good deadlifts, but apparently that’s not an isolation movement, so let’s try some different stuff.
Stability ball hamstring curl
This involves getting a bit of a glute bridge, and also some level of balance and control from your upper body so you don’t fall off the bench, but it can still give you some solid squeeze on those hammies. There’s also the one-legged version too.
Glute Ham Raise
There’s a couple of ways you could do this. The first is with a simple back extension machine, which most facilities will tend to have.
Another uses a dedicated glute ham raise machine, which for some reason Crossfitters insist on using backwards as some kind of ab training thingy.
TRX Hamstring Curl
This one needs a TRX as the name implies, but it can be something you could pack with you if needed, but even then most clubs have one or two kicking around somewhere.
To go one step higher, you can include a static row hold as in this example.
Nordic Hamstring Curl
There’s a bunch of ways you could do these one, and they all suck holy hell when they’re done properly.
This version involves a lat pulldown machine, or any device where you have a seat and also a knee pad above. You kneeling on the seat and hook the back of your feet under the knee pads, and then get to work roasting your hammies.
Having a small box to land on with your hands makes it a lot easier to keep in a relatively neutral position.
You can also do this off the floor as long as something holds your feet down on the floor.
Here’s a band assisted version of the same movement.
You could even do it with a partner if no other equipment is available.
Terminal Knee Flexion
And finally, for the simplest set up, yet for some reason mind-numbingly most difficult variation available, we have the terminal knee flexion. The biggest challenge for this is to contract the muscle to get it to shorten as much as possible, and also to get the most tension possible into that shortened position while avoiding the type of cramping that can rip a tear in the space time continuum of your entire life. You could do this off a box, or simply just raise your foot off the floor as high as possible.
So here’s a quick post outlining 11 different hamstring curl isolation movements you can do without a hamstring curl machine. If you absolutely need to train a knee flexion movement there’s a ton of ways to do it.
I outline some of these as well as about 190 other exercises in my High Tensile Strength product, with 6 months of semi custom workouts, gym based and also bodyweight based options, and ways to make you into the dedicated gym ninja who moves like a cheetah and lifts like Godzilla, while looking as dead sexy as possible. Pick up your copy today and get your hamstring curls on.