Leg curls are an excellent knee-strengthening exercise. They target your hamstrings, which are the muscles at the back of your thighs. Strong hamstrings support knee joints, which leads to improved joint stability and reduced injury risk. Leg curls also improve flexibility, which contributes to healthier knees. By doing leg curls with proper form as part of consistent leg workouts, you will improve your knee strength and health. Just make sure to include a range of leg exercises to strengthen your quadriceps and further stabilize your knee joint.
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How Do Leg Curls Strengthen Your Knees?
Leg curls improve knee strength by building your hamstrings. Your hamstrings are responsible for bending your knees and extending your hips. By working on the strength and flexibility of your hamstrings, you can improve overall knee health and prevent injury. Stronger, denser muscles in the hamstrings stabilize your knee joint, which reduces stress on knee tendons and ligaments. Additionally, resistance training strengthens these essential ligaments and tendons.
- Leg curls improve hamstring strength and flexibility.
- Stronger hamstrings stabilize the knee joint to reduce injury risk.
- Consistent leg workouts also strengthen knee tendons and ligaments, which leads to stronger knees.
- Work all the muscles in your legs equally to build stronger knees.
It is important to build the muscles in your leg evenly for pain-free knees. Although leg curls are excellent for strengthening your hamstrings, you must build the quadriceps muscles in the front of your thigh as well. Building your hamstrings without strengthening your quadriceps can actually increase your injury risk. Below, we’ll provide the guidelines for a complete knee-strengthening workout.
How to Do Leg Curls Properly for Knee Health
To do leg curls properly, you’ll need to use a leg curl machine. There are three types of leg curl machines: lying, seated, and standing. Whatever type of machine you use, follow these steps to get a knee-strengthening hamstring workout.
- Adjust the machine so that your knees align with the pivot point.
- Position the leg pad so the pad touches the back of your legs just above your ankles.
- Hold the handles to maintain your upper body position during the exercise.
- Inhale, engage your core, and keep your back straight.
- Curl your legs by bringing your heels toward your buttocks. Exhale during this movement.
- Once your legs are bent, slowly extend them until you are back to the starting position. Don’t allow the weight to fall or pull your leg.
- Begin with a weight that you can move in a slow and controlled manner throughout the exercise
- Repeat for your desired reps and sets.
If you don’t have access to a leg curl machine, consider doing Nordic hamstring curls instead. Despite popular belief, Nordic curls are not bad for your knees.
How to Build Stronger Knees with Your Leg Workout
Leg curls alone are not enough to guarantee better knee health. It’s important to incorporate a variety of exercises into your routine for optimal results.
Balance Your Workout Routine
When it comes to knee health, balance is key. Focusing solely on the hamstrings without addressing the muscles on the front of your thigh, the quadriceps, can lead to muscle imbalances. This can increase your risk of injury and negatively affect your overall knee health.
- Although leg curls are great for hamstring strength, you must work your quadriceps for better knee health.
- The quadriceps are the muscles on the front of your thigh.
- Use squats, split squats, lunges, and leg presses to build overall knee strength.
To create a balanced workout routine, consider incorporating exercises that target both the hamstrings and quadriceps. Some great options include squats, lunges, and leg presses. These exercises will not only help to strengthen your knees but also promote overall lower body strength and stability.
Work Out Consistently
To get the best results, perform a lower body workout 2 times per week. This workout should include hamstring exercises like leg curls and Romanian deadlifts, as well as quadriceps exercises like squats and lunges. It’s also a good idea to work out your calves with calf raises and jump rope.
- Do a leg workout twice per week.
- Each leg workout should contain 4 to 5 exercises.
- The workout should include different movements that target the hamstrings, quads, and calves for total knee health.
- Add weight to your exercises as you get stronger, to continually strengthen your knees.
Choose 4 to 5 exercises for each lower body workout. Then, do 3 to 5 sets of each exercise. To build strength, perform 5 reps during each set. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets. By tackling twice-weekly leg workouts with a variety of leg exercises, you’ll begin to see results. Gradually increase the resistance of each exercise as you get stronger. Add enough weight so you are challenged but do not add so much that it causes knee pain.
Don’t Forget Flexibility
While strength is important for knee health, so is flexibility and mobility. Tight muscles can limit your range of motion and contribute to poor joint mechanics, increasing the risk of injury. To improve flexibility and mobility in the knee joint, incorporate stretching and mobility exercises into your routine. This can include static stretches, dynamic stretches, and foam rolling for the hamstrings, quadriceps, and other surrounding muscles.
- After each leg workout, spend 10 to 20 minutes stretching your leg muscles.
- Choose a variety of stretches for your hamstrings, quads, and calves.
- Always stretch after working out—never use stretching as a warm-up for strength training.
It is always best to stretch after a workout, instead of before strength training. Stretching before you do resistance exercises, such as leg curls, can actually cause injury. So, warm up with dynamic movements and light cardio. Work out, then stretch your hamstrings, quads, and calves. Stretching the muscles reduces pain and limits your risk of a knee injury.
Use Proper Form
No matter which exercises you choose to include in your knee-strengthening workout routine, it’s essential to use proper form and technique. This will help to minimize the risk of injury and ensure that you’re effectively targeting the intended muscles. To learn the proper form for new exercises, work with a personal trainer. Then, focus on maintaining this form throughout each workout.
- Learn and practice proper form for each new leg exercise.
- If the weight is too heavy for you to lift with proper form, switch to a lower weight.
- Improper form creates the risk of a knee injury, which defeats your goal of knee strength.
Maintaining correct form is always more important than how much weight you lift. You will get a better workout by lifting less weight with proper form than you will by lifting heavier weight with poor form. Take each rep slowly and remember to exhale during the most strenuous movement of the exercise. This will build strength and greatly reduce your injury risk.
Do Leg Curls Build Stronger Knees?
Leg curls play a useful role in knee strength. Here are the most important points to remember:
- Leg curls contribute to knee strength by strengthening your hamstrings.
- Your hamstrings stabilize and protect the knee joint.
- In addition to leg curls, it’s important to do other exercises for knee health.
- Squats and lunges strengthen the quadriceps muscles that also protect the knee.
- Perform a complete leg workout twice each week to build stronger knees.
- Stretch after each leg workout to improve knee health and eliminate pain.
- In order to prevent injury, focus on proper form during leg exercises.
Keep these facts in mind when you begin a fitness program. By building your leg muscles with a consistent workout plan, you will strengthen your knees for long-term health.