8 Alternatives to Leg Curls

6 Min Read


Leg curls are a popular exercise for targeting the hamstrings, a crucial muscle group for lower body strength and stability.

However, not everyone has access to a leg curl machine or finds the exercise comfortable or effective for their fitness goals.


Fortunately, there are numerous alternatives that can effectively work the hamstrings and surrounding muscles.

In this article, we’ll explore eight alternatives to leg curls that you can incorporate into your workout routine to build lower body strength and enhance overall performance.

Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs):

Romanian deadlifts are an excellent alternative to leg curls as they target the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back simultaneously.

To perform RDLs, stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs with an overhand grip.

Keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent, hinge at the hips, pushing your buttocks back as you lower the weight towards the ground.

Lower the weight until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then return to the starting position by squeezing your glutes and pushing your hips forward.

Glute-Ham Raises:

Glute-ham raises specifically target the hamstrings and glutes while also engaging the lower back and core muscles.

You can perform this exercise using a glute-ham raise machine or with a partner holding your ankles.

Start by kneeling on the pad with your feet secured, then slowly lower your torso forward until it’s parallel to the ground.

Use your hamstrings to pull your torso back up to the starting position, keeping your back straight throughout the movement.

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts:

Single-leg Romanian deadlifts, also known as single-leg RDLs, are an excellent unilateral exercise for targeting each leg individually while improving balance and stability.

Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand, stand on the opposite leg, and hinge at the hips to lower the weight towards the ground while keeping your back straight and the non-working leg extended behind you.

Focus on using the hamstrings and glutes to return to the starting position.

Nordic Hamstring Curls:

Nordic hamstring curls are a challenging bodyweight exercise that primarily targets the hamstrings.

To perform this exercise, kneel on a mat with your feet secured under a sturdy object or have a partner hold them.

Slowly lower your torso towards the ground, keeping your back straight, until you’re almost parallel to the floor.

Use your hamstrings to pull yourself back up to the starting position.

Stability Ball Leg Curls:

Stability ball leg curls are an effective alternative to traditional leg curls that also engage the core for stability.

Lie on your back with your heels resting on a stability ball and your arms extended by your sides.

Lift your hips off the ground to form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels, then use your heels to roll the stability ball towards your buttocks before extending your legs back out.

Slider Leg Curls:

Slider leg curls are a challenging exercise that requires minimal equipment and primarily targets the hamstrings and glutes.

Begin by lying on your back with your feet on sliders or a smooth surface such as a towel.

Lift your hips off the ground and slowly slide your feet towards your buttocks using your hamstrings.

Extend your legs back out to complete one repetition.


Step-ups are a functional exercise that targets the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes while also improving balance and coordination.

Stand facing a sturdy bench or step with a dumbbell in each hand.

Step onto the bench with one foot, driving through the heel to lift your body up.

Step back down and repeat on the opposite side.

Reverse Lunges:

Reverse lunges are a dynamic exercise that targets the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes while also improving hip mobility.

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand.

Take a step backward with one foot and lower your body until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles.

Push through the heel of the front foot to return to the starting position, then repeat on the opposite side.


Leg curls are a staple exercise for targeting the hamstrings, but they’re not the only option for building lower body strength and stability.

Incorporating a variety of alternatives into your workout routine can help prevent boredom, reduce the risk of overuse injuries, and target the muscles from different angles for optimal development.

Whether you prefer bodyweight exercises, free weights, or machines, there’s an alternative to leg curls that can help you achieve your fitness goals and improve overall performance.

Experiment with different exercises to find the ones that work best for you and enjoy the benefits of a stronger, more functional lower body.

Share This Article
Leave a comment