7 Dynamic Alternatives to Leg Curl

Hate going to the gym when it’s your leg day? Or are you looking for alternatives to leg curl1 at home? Well working out your legs and feet are very important since they are responsible for your entire mobility. Working out your legs boosts the production of testosterone which helps your body in protein synthesis2.

Thus, ignoring your legs means you’re impeding your progress. You’re a google search away from finding the best exercises for your leg day. But among the most popular suggestions are the Leg Curls.

Moreover, keeping your legs and feet healthy comes with other benefits as well. Like taking legs and feet pics and posting them on social media to motivate others for this exercise. 

So here are the 7 alternatives to leg curls that you can add to your daily life.

1. What Are Leg Curls?

Well, it’s an isotonic exercise3. For performing leg curls, you need special equipment which is a leg curl machine. This exercise very specifically targets your hamstrings and also plays a vital role in engaging the core.

If you’re still not convinced, then let me tell you that hamstrings are those groups of muscles that help you in running or doing any activity where the entire range of motion is required.

So having stronger hamstrings is the tonic against cramps, strains, and other muscular injuries. But opting for a leg curling machine is indeed costly, as it’s much more reasonable to buy dumbbells or kettlebells owing to the variety of exercises they offer. So if you’re a beginner or want a change in the everyday exercise you do then here are some top alternatives for leg curls.

2. Alternatives to Leg Curls

2.1 Donkey Kicks

Although the name sounds funny, trust me this is a recommended exercise for all levels. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate or an expert as it requires no equipment. You can add this simple bodyweight exercise to your fitness regime to hit those hamstrings while working your core and lower body.

Let’s hop straight into doing this. Follow these simple steps:-


  1. As the name suggests, get on all your fours (exactly like the animal on its fours).
  2. While bending your knees, keep your back straight. Avoid any hunch in the spine.
  3. Keep your arms straight with your palms touching the ground. Keep your knees at shoulder width.
  4. Look straight, not up or down. Remember that its name suggests kick. So squeezing your glutes, kick with adequate force by straightening your leg.
  5. Follow this process in sets with alternative legs to get those hamstrings working. If you’re a beginner then take caution of not kicking too hard to strain your legs.

Best Rep Range: 8 to 12 per leg

Pro Tip: Keep your core tight to protect your back from straining. You can use resistance bands to further increase the difficulty.

2.2 Single-Leg Deadlifts

This is another bodyweight exercise with no equipment needed wherein you not only target your hamstrings and core but also attain greater body stability and flexibility. This exercise requires no equipment, however, you can spice up things with some variations using a dumbbell or a kettlebell.

How To Do A Single Leg Deadlift | The Right Way | Well+Good

Let’s dive straight into learning how to perform this exercise. Follow these simple steps:-


  1. Stand on your feet with very little gap between them. Put your entire body weight on any of your feet.
  2. Now keeping your core tight and arms by your side, bend forward by raising your other leg.
  3. Keep in mind that your back must be as straight as possible and feel your hamstrings being stretched.
  4. Return slowly to the same position once your spine, hip, and the other leg are in a straight line. Repeat this with the other leg as well.

Best Rep Range: It varies as per your stability and strength. Perform 8 to 16 reps per foot if you’re a beginner.

Beginners Tip: If you’re completely new to this or lack sufficient body balance then you can do this by taking support of a table or a raised platform.

2.2.1 One-Leg Romanian Deadlifts

This is just an add-on to the single-leg deadlifts4 because you know that they’re so much fun to perform. Follow the same steps as in the case of single-leg deadlifts. Just add a dumbbell of a suitable weight or a kettlebell in your opposite hand i.e. opposite to the leg you are raising.

Best Rep Range: 10 to 16 reps per foot

2.3 Alternating Leg Reverse lunges

They are unlike other exercises which are complex to perform. They are beginner friendly while they allow for variations for the intermediate and experts. You might not have expected them to be enlisted here but believe me, they deliver outstanding results in comparison to leg curls. They require no equipment and can be done at home.

Let’s begin to learn them. Follow these simple steps to ace your lower body:-


  1. Stand on your feet with a little distance between them.
  2. Begin with your weaker leg and step your dominant leg backward 
  3. Keeping your torso and core upright, just bend your lower body.
  4. Ensure that the entire weight I on the front foot while the back foot’s knee is bending in a straight line.
  5. Return to the normal position and do the same with the other leg.

Best Rep Range: 8 to 16 times per leg.

Pro Tip: Keep your core tight to maintain a strong balance.

2.4 Glute Bridge

This is another popular exercise suggested by fitness coaches to absolute beginners. But the other part of the audience need not skip this part because it also has an advanced variant to get your hamstrings burning. Moreover, it’s a great exercise to work your pelvic floor. So you’re taking care of your physical as well as sexual health. In addition to that, it requires no equipment.

So let’s have a look at how to perform them. Follow these simple steps: –


  1. Lie down flat on the floor by your back and keep your arms at your sides.
  2. Place your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent towards the ceiling.
  3. Now keeping your core and upper body tight, try pushing your body slowly off the ground by thrusting your hips while you inhale. Return to the same position as you exhale.
  4. Please try not to exert any force from your hands or your upper body. Just keep your core tight and let the lower body and the hips do the work.

Best Rep Range: 8 to 16 reps

Increasing the Difficulty Level: – If you want to go to an even higher level then you can do the same exercise with one leg. Keep your other leg straight up in the air as if it’s making a 45-degree angle with the ground. Do the same with your other leg as well.

2.5 Good Mornings

Another magical spell comes right from the basket of exercises. This exercise requires only one piece of equipment in the form of some weight. You can begin with some lightweight object if you have just started otherwise a barbell is mostly chosen for this.

Despite being underrated, it has been embraced by many people who exercise on a regular regularly

The Good Morning

So let’s hop into learning to perform this. Follow these simple steps to get started: –


  1. Begin with standing by keeping your feet at shoulder width.
  2. Load a barbell or any weight on your shoulders. Don’t go too heavy initially. If you haven’t mastered the entire motion then it may adversely impact your back.
  3. Avoid any bend on the back and by looking straight slowly lower yourself.
  4. Don’t keep your knees very tight while your hip thrusts.
  5. Go as low as your body allows you to but as soon as your torso is flat and parallel to the ground, stop. Return slowly back to the starting position.

Best Rep Range: 8 to 15 reps

Beginner’s Tip: Choose a weight that is evenly distributed. You can avoid the weight for some time unless you learn to perform it in the correct form.

2.6 Nordic Curls

If you’re thinking of working out with a partner, then this exercise is just right for you. While those going solo need not be worried. You guys can take the help of any furniture to tuck in your feet so that you get the desired counter resistance.

Hamstring exercises - Norwegian curl | Nordic curl | Glute Ham Raise

Let’s get a tighter hold on those hamstrings. Follow these simple steps: –


  1. Ask your partner to hold your feet while you’re kneeling. Others place their feet under a sofa or couch just to ensure that there is resistance while the body moves.
  2. After you slide in your heels, slowly let your body fall and gently feel your hamstrings being stretched.
  3. Once you’re at the tipping point where your hams can’t hold your body any longer, fall to the ground. Use your arms to support yourself.
  4. Again use your arms to generate that extra push and return to the starting position. In a controlled manner repeat the same process.

Best Rep Range:  8 to 12 reps is an ideal target for beginners. You can hereafter aim for even higher.

Pro Tip: Keep your core tight during the entire range of motion. Go slowly as you fall d stress to the hamstrings.

2.7 Kettlebell Swings

No fitness workout can be designed without including the majestic Kettlebell swings5. If you have kettlebells available, then put them to use my friend. Beyond targeting your core and hamstrings, this exercise targets many other muscles at once. Because of its versatility, even the best fitness experts recommend it for all levels of fitness freaks.

So time to get swinging. Follow these steps to get your body moving: 


  1. Choose a kettlebell that you can raise to your chest with both hands. If you’re unsure, start with a lighter one to get the flow.
  2. Stand with both your feet at shoulder width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent.
  3. Holding your kettlebell at knee level, slowly swing it up until your arms are straight and fully extended up to your chest.
  4. Bring the kettlebell down with the same swing whilst engaging your core. For extra momentum, you can swing it back past your hips.
  5. Don’t keep the weight down once you reach the starting position and slowly repeat the same until your body acquires that flow.

Bes Rep Range: Initially 5 to 10 reps should be performed slowly to get acquainted with the pressure. Thereon one can practice as per his proficiency.

Pro Tip: This exercise requires vigor to be maintained throughout the motion. So go slow if required.

3. Conclusion

So, here comes the end of the best-picked alternatives that can help you unlock super strength in your hamstring muscles. You don’t need to go for all of the at once. Except for the last one, almost all of these require only one piece of equipment. I’m kidding because there’s no equipment better than your body weight.

Now you can’t give an excuse for not having a leg curl machine. You can perform these anywhere.

So hurry up and work for your body strength.

Tell me which one are you beginning with today? Mention them in the comments below

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  1. Wright, Glenn A., THOMAS H. DELONG, and Gale Gehlsen. “Electromyographic activity of the hamstrings during performance of the leg curl, stiff-leg deadlift, and back squat movements.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 13.2 (1999): 168-174. ↩︎
  2. Haselkorn, R. O. B. E. R. T., and LUCIA B. Rothman-Denes. “Protein synthesis.” Annual Review of Biochemistry 42.1 (1973): 397-438. ↩︎
  3. Crawford, MICHAEL H., MICHAEL A. Petru, and C. H. A. R. L. E. S. Rabinowitz. “Effect of isotonic exercise training on left ventricular volume during upright exercise.” Circulation 72.6 (1985): 1237-1243. ↩︎
  4. Liebenson, Craig. “Learning the single leg dead lift.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 19.4 (2015): 732-735. ↩︎
  5. Lake, Jason P., and Mike A. Lauder. “Mechanical demands of kettlebell swing exercise.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 26.12 (2012): 3209-3216. ↩︎

Last Updated on by laibaarif


Rishi Jain
  1. Someone who has a heavier lower body it sometime really becomes dificult for me to properly include leg curl and many YouTube videos doesn’t gives a option for a alternative exercise but you have really helped in this matter.

  2. Working out the legs and feet is very important since they are responsible for entire mobility. Also, it boosts the production of testosterone, which helps our body with protein synthesis. Leg Curls are the most popular and suggested exercise. But sometimes it becomes difficult to properly include Leg Curl, especially for those with heavier lower bodies. This article is really helpful for suggesting effective alternatives to Leg Curl. Detailed methods for these leg-day alternatives are explained. It’s like a guide to happy and strong legs.

  3. Working out legs and feet is very important since they are responsible for entire mobility. Also, it boosts the production of testosterone, which helps our body with protein synthesis. Leg Curls are the most popular and suggested exercise. But sometimes it becomes difficult to properly include Leg Curl, especially for those with heavier lower bodies. This article is really helpful for suggesting effective alternatives to Leg Curl. Detailed methods for these leg-day alternatives are explained. It’s like a guide to happy and strong legs.

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