Leg Curl Alternative: 7 Best Exercises

Leg curl alternative, effective exercise to build your core and hamstrings. Before finding any leg curl alternatives, you must know if those exercises would work for your core or not.

This article will help you find some effective leg curl alternatives that will meet your requirements.

Leg Curl Alternatives:

Core and hamstring exercises are the roots of your daily activities, and you can walk and run because of these two parts of your body. Building them is pivotal for maintaining that strength and power in your body.

Here are some leg curl alternatives you may try if leg curl core and hamstring workout are not your thing:

1. Stiff Leg Deadlifts

One of the best leg curls alternatives that are not that difficult to perform. Have you ever done deadlifts?

If yes, then you will catch stiff leg deadlifts easily. Like your normal deadlifts, it also involves reaching down and getting up concept, but the difference would be more comprehension by learning the steps.

How to:

  • Step 1: To start the position, take a barbell, and find a stool or any other bench that would be sturdy. Place your barbells on the stools at rest so they catch mid-height of your shins.
  • Step 2: Then go down and get back to grab the barbell just like your normal deadlifts. Make sure your arms should be exactly as you are hip-width apart, and your palm should be facing towards the ground.
  • Step 3: Then lift the barbell towards your waist height, then lower it towards the ground (down) again.
  • Step 4: You have to control your breathing properly, breathe in a while lowering the weight (barbell), and breathe out in case of lifting the weight. Then return to the starting position and repeat it as much as you can.
  • Step 5: While performing all the steps of the stiff curl alternative, ensure the activation of your core and hamstrings (or the whole posterior chain).
  • Step 6: Focusing on any one specific muscle of your body is quite difficult, but you can follow the trick of squeezing that particular muscle while exercising.

Squeezing would also help you in activating your posterior chain and improve strength. Claim the benefits from all the movement in this type of leg curl alternative by repeating the exercise 10-15 times (according to professional advice).

Many people try it as an alternative to prone leg curls. So, give a try to this one.

You could also give the Romanian deadlift or lying leg curl a try for a movement leg curl alternative exercise that requires no leg curl machine.

Leg curl alternative
Photo by Total Shape

2. Kettlebell Swing

An outstanding Nordic hamstring curl alternative or leg curls alternative (and hamstring exercise) works more effectively than leg curl exercises.

Kettlebell 1swings are one of the best leg curl alternatives (without a leg curl machine) is a full-body intense workout that works for your whole body covering every possible muscle group.

How to:

  • Step 1: Stand straight (shoulder-width apart) and bend your knees slightly on the floor toward the forward direction. Hold the kettlebell perfectly through its handle and then between your knees space.
  • Step 2: The whole exercise would require one strong movement, so be ready for the same.
  • Step 3: Start by swinging the kettlebell in the upward direction in one single move. Keep the kettlebell in between your knees.
  • Step 4: For a better intense workout, you should try moving the kettlebell up towards your head and bringing the same above your head so that the kettlebell would not be in front of your chest.
  • Step 5: Then get back your kettlebell down and between your legs. Then don’t stop and move to your next swing.
  • Step 6: Now, return to the starting position and repeat the swings at least 5 times. You can do 5-10 repetitions for better whole-body leg curl alternative results.

Tip: You should activate your core and hamstring muscles from the starting position to hold the weight of your muscles while performing this movement exercise.

Make sure the with should be of appropriate weight and not more or less than your strength level.

Kettlebell swings are the best hamstring exercise for working out with momentum and improving the posterior chain.

3. Single Leg Hip Extension

Another great leg curls alternative that requires no equipment at all. You can perform this exercise without hitting a gym and staying at your home.

How to:

  • Step 1: Lie on the floor facing upwards with your feet flat on the floor, causing your knees to raise a little bit.
  • Step 2: Raise your leg (any side) in the upward direction to hold it in the air so that it will be fully extended (that’s easier for performing the exercise).
  • Step 3: Then slightly raise your knees upwards in the air, and then lift down slowly towards the ground. And for your hands, place them on the floor facing towards the ground on the sides of your body.
  • Step 4: Pull your core and hamstring muscles while you are extending your hips upwards. You are lifting your hips in the wrong direction. In case there is a strain on your neck, note this thing.
  • Step 5: Perform this bodyweight leg curl alternative, exercise with a repetition of 5-10 (or as per requirement).

This workout would be a boon for your legs and knees for your upper back (and lower back (glutes and hamstrings). Use can also try a resistance band while performing this exercise to do a hard, sweaty exercise.

4. Good Mornings

Good mornings also effectively build your core and hamstrings, but you have to involve your upper body (upper back mainly) in it.

You will get strong hamstrings 2and legs by performing this exercise. Additional resistance is required for the performance of these exercises. For that, you can use weights and barbells.

How to:

  • Step 1: Bent down facing down towards the floor, making your stomach parallel to the ground or floor. Then slowly raise your upper body, making your lower back stand straight in a position.
  • Step 2: Make sure your whole body is in a straight line keeping all the parts straight is straight and not bent (or sliding around). Now return to the starting position and start to perform repetition.
  • Step 3: You must use weight (plates) in your barbell for strong hamstrings and core and give explosive moves.

This exercise is all about explosive and strong movement as they build a high amount of strength and power. Just like a leg deadlift, it will work pretty well as a leg curl alternative.

 5. Russian Leg Curls

There is no requirement for any legs curl machine or other Russian leg curl tools—one of the best ways to move your body and keep your leg (or feet) stable. This is the best replacement for leg curls.

How to:

  • Step 1: Start with a  kneeling position (or bend your knees down), and the top parts of your feet should touch the floor or ground.
  • Step 2: Slightly low down your upper body towards the ground, just like you do in push up where your hands touch the ground.
  • Step 3: Then use your hands to push your back in the upwards direction back to starting position. Repeat the same according to your strength and capacity.
  • Step 4: To avoid any strain on your back, just let your core activate properly while keeping your back straight.

This exercise would be super difficult initially if you’re a beginner as it is one of the best leg curl alternatives.

6. Donkey Kicks

The most famous and effective legs curl alternative exercises for your hips and lower back. The donkey kicks are the best bodyweight exercises to build your hamstrings, core, and overall lower body.

You can consider it the best hamstring training.

How to:

  • Step 1: Bend your knees and keep your back straight and palms on the ground facing downwards to the floor to take the position. Your core should be tight and not slide around, to maintain proper resistance and strength.
  • Step 2: Keep your hands and feet (knees) shoulder hip-width apart. Then raise your hips and kick your legs (keeping your feet straight) and lower your body to push your hips muscles back.
  • Step 3: While you push your hips, it activates your buttock (or glutes muscles). Use your bodyweight and kick back forcefully, making a 90-degree angle in between your thighs and back.
  • Step 4: Repeat the position at least 15-20 times for better core and strong hamstring workouts. Using a resistance band would also result in a good donkey kick workout.

Work your hamstrings by performing this one for your glutes (and hips) and hamstring muscle group.

7. Reverse Lunges

Reverse lunges (alternative to leg curls without a leg curl machine) are very helpful to target your hamstrings. You could lunge using some lighter weight as well.

You can use a kettlebell or any sandbag (you can also use a resistance band).

How to:

  • Step 1: Take a straight stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then take your knee (or legs) a little backward and bend your knees is floating just above the floor(also lower your hips).
  • Step 2: Don’t forget to activate your core muscles while making your back straight. Your toe should be facing straight without a slight movement (left or right).
  • Step 3: Then take your hips back along with moving your body to the starting position. And don’t forget to keep your back straight while performing lunges.
  • Step 4: After performing all the steps properly, return to the starting position of the exercise and perform again.

You may first start with your left leg (any one leg of your choice) and perform alternatively. Follow the alignment (straight line) of your body together to perform more effectively without obstruction.

Repeat reverse lunges (glutes and hamstring exercise) at least 10-15 times for a better notable result.

Leg curl alternative
Photo by Monstera

Read more about leg curl alternatives

8. Stability Balls Hamstring Curl

A beautiful and effective stability ball hamstring curls for your lower body. This exercise is as easy as it sounds. Follow the steps to do this exercise:

How to:

  • Step 1: Place your palms down towards the floor and place your feet on the stability ball holding the balance on the floor.
  • Step 2: Make a 90-degree angle with your knees on the ball so that the ball is almost touching your buttocks (or hips).
  • Step 3: Lie down, keeping flat on your back, and your hand should be on the side of your body, maintaining a proper straight position.
  • Step 4: Take one straight move, and extend both your hips and legs, allowing the ball to move to form your body (legs and feet) straight out.
  • Step 5: Then get back to your starting position and repeat. This stability ball hamstring curl workout will increase your access to a leg and build your strength.

Benefits of Leg Curl Alternatives:

  • Strengthens your lower and upper back.
  • Great for the hamstring muscles group.
  • Builds your flexibility and toning of muscles
  • Builds your feet, legs, and hips muscles.
  • Improves lower back (or hips) flexibility movement.
  • Improves knees diseases or weakness.
  • Improves blood flow through feet, hips, legs, and knees (or lower body).


Finding perfect leg curl alternatives without a leg curl machine could sometimes be tough, but there are many exercises as an alternative to a leg curl.

You could perform any exercises that require no leg curl machine and build your muscle strength, especially your core, glutes, and hamstrings.

It would be best if you learned how to follow the correct posture to prevent any muscle strain or pain. Get yourself started with these outstanding alternatives to leg curl.

Go ahead and explore these best leg curl alternatives for fitness and strength.

You will build more muscle and strength by practicing this exercise regularly.


Q. Are leg curls necessary?
  • Research does suggest that the lying leg curl is better at activating the lower lateral and lower medial hamstrings compared to the semi-stiff leg deadlift, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a required movement.
Q. Is leg curl bad for knees?
  • They can actually help relieve knee pain, according to Schumacher. Strengthening your hamstrings helps build stability in your knee and pelvis. This helps improve your knee alignment (and reduces your injury risk) when you do other forms of exercise, like walking or running.
Q. Is leg curl or leg press better?
  • In terms of total lower body strength output, it is the leg press that is the clearly superior choice – as it activates not only the quadriceps femoris but a variety of other muscle groups that contribute to the strength and power of the exerciser’s legs.

Read more from us here.

6 Best Exercises To Strengthen Your Calf Muscles
Icy Health
  1. Levine, Nicholas A., et al. “Effects of kettlebell mass on lower-body joint kinetics during a kettlebell swing exercise.” Sports Biomechanics 21.9 (2022): 1032-1045. ↩︎
  2. Danielsson, Adam, et al. “The mechanism of hamstring injuries–a systematic review.” BMC musculoskeletal disorders 21 (2020): 1-21. ↩︎

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