10 Best Leg Curl Alternative Exercises

leg curl alternative

You have a lot of reasons for exercising your body. First, a good body exercise makes you strong and healthy. Second, you need exercise to keep fit and have the right posture. While working out, you could develop many muscles in your body.

It depends on the body part you are working on. For the lower body part, a leg curl workout is great. This workout develops the muscles on your hamstrings. And for the best results, you will need a leg curl machine.

But not everyone has access to this machine. Or even worse, not everyone likes the leg curl workout.

So, what options do such people have? We know how important it is to develop your whole body. And in this post, we’ve brought you a few leg curl alternatives to use.

This means you can now develop your lower body without the leg curl machine. And you will still have impressive results. Read on for more information.

Top 10 Leg Curl Alternatives

10 Best Leg Curl Alternative Exercises

1. Shift-Legged Deadlifts

This is one of the best leg curl alternatives. It offers extra benefits besides working on your hamstring muscles. It strengthens your lower back, abs, and glutes. You don’t get these extra benefits if you use a leg curl machine.

This leg curl alternative is also versatile. Usually, you will perform it using a barbell. But you can also use dumbbells to perform it. It is a simple lower body workout but you will need more practice. Especially if you’re looking to perfectly perform it.

Without complicating issues, let’s look at how to perform the shift-legged deadlifts. Simply follow the steps below:

  • Place the barbell on an exercise step. Make sure the bar is at your shin height.
  • Put yourself in a position close to the bar. Make sure you’re close enough that your shins are almost touching the bar.
  • Make yourself steady by contracting your thighs and core muscles.
  • Keep your knees straight and bend at your hips. Reach down for the handlebars. Keep your back straight at this phase.
  • Position your hands so they are wider than your shins widths. Then grab the handlebars with an overgrip.
  • Stand up straight. Do this until you have fully extended your hips. Stand for a second before bending over again.
  • Place the barbell back down on the exercise step. But keep your knees locked and bend at your hips.
  • Repeat this exercise as many times as you can.

2. Kettlebell Swings

This leg curl alternative works out your posterior chain. It also requires much practice if you want to perform it perfectly.

It benefits you in a few ways. First, it builds your power. Also, it improves your muscle endurance and aerobic capacity.

As such, it is more than just an alternative to the leg curl workout exercises. As its name suggests, you will be swinging a kettlebell around.

Therefore, you will need to take precaution measures to avoid causing accidents and injuries.

Stand with your feet apart. Stand such that your feet are between the width of your hips and outer shoulder. Then hold the kettlebell with a slightly loose grip. This is necessary to allow the kettlebell to freely swing within your grip.

Hold your arms out in front of you. Make sure they are parallel to the floor. Also, keep your elbows locked so your arms are straight. Swing the kettlebell forward, reaching a peak height above your head.

Swing the kettlebell down, but go into a squatting position as it passes between your legs. Repeat these motions as many times as possible.

This exercise targets your hamstrings, lats, and glutes. As such, it is a very effective leg curl alternative.

3. Single Leg Hip Extensions

This exercise might be the most home-friendly since it requires no special equipment to perform. It only needs you to lie down flat on the floor with no objects obstructing you. You might wonder if this exercise can yield results.

Well, this exercise works on your hamstrings, and it makes your body weight for the workout. Doing this exercise is very simple — just lie down flat on your back. Then bend your knees at 90° so your feet are on the ground.

Make sure your feet are hip-width apart. Straighten one leg and hold it in that position. At this point, use the other foot as the stabilizer. You can now raise your hips and lower back and keep your body weight on the stabilizer leg which you’ll use to keep balance.

Keep your raised leg and lower back in that position for at least 3 seconds before shifting to the other leg. Slowly lower yourself and repeat with the other leg.

4. Glute Ham Raise

This is yet another alternative to the leg curl. Besides working on your hamstring muscles, it also gives you posterior chain development.

And it is a carryover to weightlifting and powerlifting. For the full version of this great exercise, most likely you will need a glute-ham developer (GHD).

But you can still perform it at home, especially if you don’t have time for the gym. Have it in mind that this exercise will need you to hook your legs onto a stationary object.

As such, you can have a friend over to your place. He/she will need to hold your legs in place, parallel to the floor and steady.

For knee comfort, you will need some cushioning gear. You start while in a kneeling position. Fold your arms across your chest. At this point, your knees are 90° bent and you are perpendicular to your knees and the floor.

Brace your core then lower your torso forward until you are horizontal. At this point, you’re no longer perpendicular to the ground. Again, keep your core tight and pull yourself back up to your starting position!

These exercise motions also give your lower back and glutes some good workouts, hence the name glute-ham raise.

This leg curl alternative might be the most difficult. But it takes good practice and warmups to find it easy to use with time.

For more challenges and impressive workout results, you can hold some dumbbells on your chest with your arms folded.

With continued use, this workout becomes simple. And you should warm up first if you want to avoid having sore legs after the exercise.

5. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are a great alternative to the leg curl for a few reasons. First, they target your hamstrings, just like the leg curl. Also, deadlifts work on your abs, glutes, and posterior trap muscles.

The deadlift is a common weightlifting exercise. It involves the use of a barbell, and it engages your leg muscles.


For beginners, you will need to start with a lighter weight as you work your way up. Performing this exercise is very simple. Just follow the steps below:

  • Stand near the barbell such that your midfoot is under it. Your shin should not touch the bar. Make sure your heels are hip-width apart, and your toes slightly pointing away from each other.
  • Bend over and grab the bar with your arms straight. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Keep your knees locked so you only bend over at your hips.
  • Lower your body by bending your knees. At this point, your shin might touch the bar. Just make sure the barbell doesn’t roll over from the midfoot position!
  • Make your lower back straight and lift your chest. Gasp for as much air as you can then hold your breath.
  • Lift the bar and weight off the ground, but make sure the bar is in contact with your legs. Carry out this step until you have stood up straight.
  • Go back to your starting point and repeat the whole process. You can do this exercise as many times as you can.

6. Stability Ball Hamstring Curls

You will need a stability ball for this particular exercise. One advantage of this leg curl alternative is that stability balls are readily available at an inexpensive price point.

Also, you don’t need to go to the gym for this exercise!

You simply lie flat having your back entirely on the ground and have a stability ball under your legs.

Make sure you’ve bent your knees at 45° before placing your stability ball underneath your legs.

Raise your hips as you pull your stability ball closer to the lower part of your back.

Once you reach the peak position, you should make sure that you bend your knees at 90°. You can then slowly lower your lower back as you push your stability ball to the starting position.

This is a very simple exercise that targets your hamstrings and core muscles.

It is ideal for people who don’t go to the gym often but still want to work on their lower body muscles. As such, it is another effective leg curl alternative.

7. Single Leg Stiff-Legged Deadlifts

You already know that deadlifts are ideal for strength, power and fitness athletes.

But what you might not know is that single-leg stiff-legged deadlifts are similar to regular deadlifts only that you will be using one leg at a time.

This creates additional difficulty, but with greater reward. Some of the benefits of this leg curl alternative include excellent hamstring developments.

Also, you get to develop your lower back and glutes if you perform this exercise.

As such, this exercise not only develops your posterior chain but gives you impressive strength and power as well. Besides, this alternative also prevents injuries and imbalances during unilateral movements.

Single Leg Stiff-Legged Deadlifts

You can follow the steps below if you want to perform the single-leg stiff-legged deadlift:

  • Position yourself near a barbell so your midfoot is under it.
  • Bend over to reach for the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart. Make sure you are bending at your hips, and not your knees.
  • Fold one leg and lower your body by bending the other knee. Grab the barbell with an overgrip.
  • Make your lower back straight and lift your chest. Gasp for as much air as you can then hold your breath.
  • Lift the bar and weight off the ground, but make sure the bar is in contact with the leg you’re standing on. Carry out this step until you have stood up straight.
  • Go back to your starting point and repeat the whole process but with the other leg. Repeat these motions as much as you can.

This exercise is similar to the deadlift but you will be using one leg when lifting the barbell and the weight.

If you’re a runner, you might find this exercise great in terms of individually training your legs. When taking a step, only one leg goes in front of the other.

As such, this exercise will build enough power for each leg so you can run better without relenting.

8. Bridges

This is another leg curl alternative that does not require any special gym equipment. But it remains to be a very effective exercise that develops your hamstrings and lower body muscles.

However, this leg curl alternative is more of a stretch than a high-intensity workout.

But the benefits are impressive, and doing it is also simple. Begin by lying flat on the ground, and make sure the soles of your feet are resting on the ground as well.

Raise your hips while using your glutes and hold your position for 3 seconds once you’ve reached the peak.

You can then slowly lower your hips back to the ground. For impressive results, you should perform this exercise 10 to 15 times per set.

To add some difficulty for more impressive results, you can add some weights and place them on your stomach.

This exercise trains your hamstrings, and you can do it anywhere. As such, it’s a very portable leg curl alternative.

9. Dumbbell Lying Leg Curls

Sometimes, you might not have access to a leg curl machine because you are at home. If you wish to replicate the exercise from a leg curl machine, you have the option of performing dumbbell leg curls.

This option also yields impressive results but at a barer bone approach.

A leg curl machine works by applying weight to your legs. That’s how it trains your hamstrings. You can replace the weights of a leg curl machine by dumbbells.

You start by lying down on the floor with your stomach. And place a dumbbell between your feet. Secure the dumbbell to make sure it does not slip off.

Bend your knees so you can raise your feet that have the dumbbell between them. Once you have bent your knees at 90°, you can slowly lower your feet together with the dumbbell back to the starting position.

Repeat raising and lowering your feet as many times as you can.

This is one of the simplest leg curl alternatives. It requires no special practice and takes a short time to learn.

As such, it is a very convenient method for people looking to start working out their hamstrings right away!

10. Good Mornings

This particular exercise requires you to have a bar. The great news is that you don’t have to use weight plates for this one. A bar weighs 45 pounds, and that’s enough weight to get you going and firing those hamstring muscles.

Therefore, beginners can find this leg curl alternative very simple. You will begin this exercise by standing up straight.

Then place the handlebars over your shoulders. Make sure the handlebars comfortably sit on your shoulders.

Make sure your feet are hip-width apart for excellent stability. Lean forward and bend over at your hips.

Your hips will be moving slightly backward during this phase. Keep your head looking forward during this whole time.

Make sure you’ve bent over so your upper body and lower body are making 90°. Don’t bend over any further once you’ve reached this point.

You can now slowly push your body up to the starting position.

Be sure to use your glutes and hamstrings to push the upper parts of your body up to the standing position (starting position).

Do this exercise slowly but steadily to let your lower body muscles workout. This is another simple leg curl alternative that is ideal for beginners.


The leg curl alternatives are great for people who would like to have impressive results from the leg curl workouts but can’t access the machine.

Some of these alternatives require no special equipment, making them inexpensive but effective options. Ripping the benefits from leg curl workouts doesn’t have to tie you to using the leg curl machine.

You can still achieve the results you’re looking for by using the alternatives that we’ve discussed in this post.

Besides, these methods fire up your hamstring muscles hence exercising them for strength and power!

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10 Best Leg Curl Alternative Exercises

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