The Hammer Strength leg curl is a fantastic addition to a lower body strength program. I generally believe that compound movements like squats, deadlifts and the variations, and lunges are going to be the most beneficial for any kind of strength, aesthetic or athletic program. However, hamstrings can usually benefit from assistance work and that’s where this machine excels.
Like other Hammer Strength brand equipment, this is a plate loading machine. This means it feels good and smooth and is fun to work on. It’s easy to increase your weight from set to set by just adding another plate.
The Anatomy of Hamstrings
The hamstrings are made of three muscles: the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitoneinosus. This group of muscles crosses the hip joint and the knee joint. They provide knee flexion, hip extension and rotation.
Why Strong Hamstrings Are Important
Hamstrings make up a large percent of the muscle in our lower body, and act on the hip and knee joints, so you can see how healthy hamstrings are largely involved in having a healthy posterior.
Hamstrings provide strength and power, which is crucial for athletes, first responders and military personnel. Additionally, they’re important for anyone who moves – walking, going up stairs, picking things up all involve hamstrings.
Hamstrings are crucial for deceleration, so having strong hamstrings can help prevent injury in athletes. Sprinting, turning, cutting, and athletic movements like those rely only the hamstrings heavily.
Finally, importantly to everybody in everyday life, strong musculature around your knee can prevent and improve knee pain. Continue reading to learn how to use the Hammer Strength leg curl, and how to incorporate it into your program.
How to Use the Hammer Strength Leg Curl
Start by placing a weight on the machine, which will be on the left side as you are facing it. I suggest starting with a 25 to get a feel for it.
Adjust the back rest so that your knees bend approximately where the machine “knee joint” rotates as well. You’ll see this pivot point to the right of your right knee when you sit. If you need to sit and try it out, and then stand and adjust, that is fine. Take the time to get a good setup.
Once you are set up well, extend your legs straight and set your feet on top of the foot pads. They will fit behind your ankles.
From here, think about bending your knees and dragging your heels back toward your glutes.
Control your legs back to the starting position.
Do a set of 8-12 reps just to feel out the weight. From there, you can adjust up or down, or keep it right there if that’s a good weight.
How Many Sets and Reps Should I Do on the Leg Curl?
As with any strength protocol, you want to work up to a weight that’s not a max but an honest challenge. I hope the first set is light and functions as a warm up. From there, aim to take a couple more sets to work up to a working weight.
Set 1: 25 pounds, 12 easy reps. Rest a minute!
Set 2: 35 pounds, 10 easy to moderate reps. Rest!
Set 3: 45 pounds, 10 reps, was a good challenge.
Rest, and stay at this weight for two more working sets.
How Long Do I Rest Between Sets?
Rest 1-2 minutes. You will probably be doing this after your big, compound lifts like squats and deadlifts. For those heavy sets, you’ll rest up to 3 minutes. On this leg curl, you can rest 1-2. Don’t wait so long that you get cold between sets, but don’t treat it like an endurance protocol, where you rest 0 seconds.
If you are working alone, I suggest timing your rest. Most people don’t rest long enough, and are surprised when their estimated minute rest is 21 seconds or so.
Does Your Gym Have the Hammer Strength Leg Curl?
If your gym doesn’t, it is worth asking if they can get one. You can see specs for the machine from the Life Fitness Hammer Strength webpage here. If they don’t have one, ask a trainer what machine functions similarly. If you need substitute exercises, ask me too!
Want to work your abs too? Try the 10 best ab exercises.
Want to Chat About Your Training?
I’d love to talk to you about your training! If you’d like to do a consult, please message me here! If you are looking for an Austin personal trainer, I’d love to talk. I have many happy remote clients too.
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.