15 Best Seated, Lying & Standing Leg Curl Alternatives

Working out your leg muscles involves repetitive and heavy work. Among the many tedious leg exercises, the curls can make the leg workout interesting as it makes you move in a different way.

The curls are more effective in targeting your hamstrings and quads than many exercises, but these would need a proper gym machine to perform. You cannot confidently add them to your routine if you don’t have uninterrupted access to the gym, if you prefer working out from the home gym, or if you travel a lot.

Don’t get disheartened, even if you can’t access a leg curl machine or a leg curl machine alternative, you can achieve similar results by performing the leg curl alternative exercises mentioned in this article.

Here we have put together detailed descriptions of the exercises that you can perform instead of curls. Every exercise mentioned here is an effective alternative to seated leg curls or lying and standing leg curls.

15 Best Gym and Home Friendly Seated, Lying & Standing Leg Curl Alternative Exercises

Leg Curl Alternatives

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The exercises you see here are the best alternatives to the leg curls that can be performed without the leg curl machine. Some of these exercises can be performed just by using your body weight while the others need some home gym equipment like free weights, bench, etc.


Level: intermediate/advanced

Equipment needed: barbell

Repetitions per set: 3-6

One of the best compound movements that work on almost all muscle groups in your body with the focus on the posterior chain. These are a great alternative to leg curls.

As the deadlifts are usually done with heavily loaded barbells, you need to have a barbell and lots of weight plates to perform them. It would be safer and noiseless if you have a floor mat installed at your home gym.

To effectively target your hamstring muscles and to avoid injuries, you need to perform the deadlifts in a proper form. Here are few tips to perform correct movement and improve your form.

  • Keep the loaded barbell on the floor within the grasp
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Stand close to the barbell so that the mid-section of your feet is exactly below the bar
  • Grab the bar just outside your legs
  • You can choose either overhand, underhand, or mixed grip. A mixed grip will allow you to lift heavier.
  • Squeeze the bar hard and lift it with driving your hips forward
  • Keep your chest out and spine neutral
  • Your head should be steady throughout the movement
  • Lower the weight with utmost control
  • Keep your core engaged and feel the hamstring getting worked out.


Level: intermediate/advanced

Equipment needed: barbell/dumbbell (optional)

Repetitions per set: 5-10

Arguably the best exercise for legs, squats can be done with or without any equipment. And it is a great seated leg curl alternative. If squats are your go-to exercise for working on your quads and hamstrings, then you have the option to work on them anywhere, anytime, using just your bodyweight.

If you are a beginner or someone who is performing squats as a part of a conditioning routine or cross-training exercise, then you can stick to free squats. If you are a serious lifter, powerlifter, or training for muscle gain, you need to perform weighted squats for good results.

If you are performing barbell squats, then it is recommended you use the power rack or squat rack for your safety.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Pointing your toes outward and extending the hands in front helps you with balancing.
  • Look in front, keep the back neutral, and lower your body by thrusting the hips down.
  • While lowering your body, do not let your knees move far too forward
  • Squat as low as you can, keeping your knees over ankles press weight on the heels
  • Keep the core engage and use the thigh muscles to lift your body back to starting position

Glute Ham Raise

Level: intermediate

Equipment needed: glute-ham bench

Repetitions per set: 6-10

As the name suggests, the glute-ham raise exercise is aimed at your glutes and hamstrings. These are a great alternative to leg curls if you don’t have access to the curl machine. However, you might need a glute-ham bench to similar equipment to perform these safely.

You need to secure your lower part of your legs in order to perform glute ham raises. If you don’t have a glute-ham bench, you can use a loaded barbell or ask your workout partner to hold your legs in position.

  • Get into the position by securing your feet flat against the glute-ham bench platform, fix your ankles below the foam roll padded posts, and resting your knees on the pad.
  • If you are doing it on the floor, then rest your knees on some cushion and lock the ankles using a loaded barbell or ask your workout partner to hold them still.
  • Keep your body straight from the knee perpendicular to the floor and keep the hands folded.
  • Engage your core, hams, and glutes and slowly lower your body towards the floor till your torso is parallel to the ground
  • Use your glutes and hamstrings to lift yourself back to the starting position.
  • The whole movement should be done in a slow and controlled motion.

Kettlebell Swing

Level: beginner/intermediate

Equipment needed: kettlebell

Repetitions per set: 8-12

These are some of the best strength-generating compound exercises that can work on your glutes, hams, core, and stabilizing muscles of your arms and shoulders.

To perform this alternate exercise for leg curls, you just need a kettlebell and a place wide enough to swing it. You can choose the weight of the kettlebell depending on your fitness level and availability.

Although it is a type of exercise that you perform with a comfortable and comparatively lighter weight, you need to be careful about the form as it involves swinging the weight close to your body.

  • Stand tall holding the kettlebell firm by both hands
  • Spread your legs apart more than the shoulder width so that the kettlebell can pass through them easily
  • Keep your knees slightly bent and move your hips out
  • At the starting position, the kettlebell would be right below your shoulders and your arms perpendicular to the floor
  • Swing the bell forward till your arms are parallel to the floor, and then swing down and backward till you can
  • Perform the optimum number of repetitions
  • You can add variation by putting your leg out as you swing the kettlebell backward and bring them together while you pull the bell forward.

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Good Mornings

Level: beginner/intermediate

Equipment needed: barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell

Repetitions per set: 8-12

The good mornings can be done by anyone with any experience and body type. These are effective in working on your hamstrings, lower back, and core.

This exercise might look very easy to do, while that might be true, these are not ineffective. When done correctly, the good mornings are a great lying leg curl alternative and standing leg curls alternative.

You can perform good morning using any type of weight like dumbbells, kettlebells, etc., but it is recommended to use the barbell. You can use a loaded or unloaded barbell as per your fitness level and preference.

  • Stand tall with your feet shoulder apart.
  • Keep the appropriately weighted barbell on your shoulder
  • Inhale, engage your core, now while exhaling thrust your hips backward while you bend forward till your torso is parallel to the floor
  • Inhale while you come back to starting position

Single-Leg Hip Extension

Level: beginner/intermediate

Equipment needed: none

Repetitions per set: 8-12

Hip extensions are a great way to work out your glutes, hams, quads, calves, and lower back without any equipment. As they work on the quads, you can use them as a seated leg curl alternative too.

You can use a bench or stability ball for improved effectiveness. The single-leg hip extensions can replace all types of leg curls.

  • Lie on the floor flat
  • Bring right foot closer to your hips keeping it flat on the floor
  • Thrust your hips up by pressing the right foot into the ground
  • Slowly lower your body to the starting position
  • Perform the set number of repetitions, then perform the same number of reps with the other leg

Stability Ball Hamstring Curls

Level: intermediate

Equipment needed: stability ball

Repetitions per set: 10-15

The stability ball adds the balance challenge to the workout. Along with making your workout fun, the stability ball also enables you to engage your stability muscles.

  • Put your heels and the calves on the stability ball lying flat on the ground.
  • Lift your torso up till you bring your body in a straight line. It will be your starting position.
  • Bend your knees lifting your hips up and bringing the stability ball closer to your hips
  • Extend your knees to get back in the starting position. This completes one rep of the exercise.

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Cable kickbacks

Level: beginner/intermediate

Equipment needed: cable pulley machine

Repetitions per set: 10-15

The primary muscle group worked by the cable kickback exercise is your glutes, but it also helps to work on your hams and quads.

You need a cable pulley machine or the cable pulley attached to the power rack to perform this alternative to seated leg curl. This exercise will help you shape your glutes and strengthen the core.

  • Stand near the cable pulley machine facing toward the machine with your feet together.
  • Wrap the ankle strap of the cable pulley to your right ankle
  • Hold the rack for support
  • Bend your knees slightly and engage the core
  • Kick your leg back slowly till your leg is parallel to the floor
  • Perform the prerequisite reps and repeat the same with the other leg

Dumbbell Lying Leg Curls

Level: beginner

Equipment needed: dumbbell

Repetitions per set: 10-15

The movement involved in dumbbell lying leg curls is similar to the lying leg curls just the difference is instead of the machine, you use the dumbbell for resistance to the motion. Thus, they prove to be one of the great lying leg curl alternatives.

Not only the motion but the muscles worked by the dumbbell lying leg curls are similar to that of lying curls. You target your glutes, calves, and hamstrings effectively.

  • Lie face down on the floor and keep a dumbbell near your feet
  • Pick the dumbbell by holding it between your feet
  • Curl your legs holding the dumbbell till your feet are above your knees
  • Slowly move back to starting position

Floor Hamstring Raises

Level: beginner/intermediate

Equipment needed: none

Repetitions per set: 6-12

When you have a small home gym, you can only keep a small number of pieces of equipment in it. It is not likely that you would have a glute-ham machine in it.

You can perform floor hamstring raises without the need of any machine and can achieve a similar muscle workout as the glute-ham raises.

For performing floor hamstring raises, you need either a heavily loaded barbell or workout partner to hold your legs in position. The complete move should be performed with utmost control.

  • Put a heavily loaded barbell on the floor.
  • Get on your knees and lock your ankles under the barbell
  • Keep sufficient cushions under your knees and between your ankles and the barbells for comfort
  • If you don’t have a barbell or sufficient weight plates, you can ask a workout partner to hold your feet
  • This will be your starting position, from here, engage your core and slowly lower your torso from the knees towards the floor without bending the body.
  • Go back up slowly to the starting position.

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Sliding Leg Curl 

Level: intermediate/advanced

Equipment needed: none

Repetitions per set: 6-12

It is a good exercise to work on your posterior chain muscles, especially the hams and glutes. All you need to perform this leg curl substitute is a sliding board. You can also make some do it yourself arrangements instead of the sliding board.

This is a great exercise for your hamstrings. The sliding leg curls work on your hamstrings in a unique way. You can easily perform these curls at a higher frequency and accelerate your muscle hypertrophy gains.

  • Lie on the floor or the exercise mat with your back flat against the ground and your knees slightly bent.
  • Keep your heels on the sliding board or the disc.
  • Using the sliding board, slide your feet slowly towards your hips along the ground.
  • While sliding the feet towards the hips, simultaneously lift the hips to form a straight line from your head to the knees.
  • Slowly slide the feet back to original position lowering your hips to complete one repetition.

Hamstring Curl with Resistance Band

Level: beginner/intermediate

Equipment needed: resistance bands

Repetitions per set: 8-12

Resistance bands can be a great alternative to free weights and cable pulley machines to perform many exercises. They do the job of offering the needed resistance to your movement almost as effectively as the weights.

With resistance bands and a post to fix them at a knee-height above the floor, you can mimic the movement you perform with the lying leg curl machine. The hamstring curls with resistance bands are a great substitute for leg curls to stimulate your hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

  • Fix resistance bands of appropriate strength on the power rack post or a hook on the wall near the knee height from the floor
  • Tie the other ends of the resistance bands on your ankles and lie on your stomach with your feet a little apart
  • The starting position should be in such a way that there is a little tension on the resistance bands.
  • Now lift your feet and pull them towards your hips bending from the knees keeping the thighs and torso flat on the ground.
  • Slowly move your feet back to starting position in a controlled motion.

Single-Leg Deadlift

Level: intermediate/advanced

Equipment needed: barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell

Repetitions per set: 8-12

The primary muscle worked in the single-leg deadlift is the hamstrings. It also works on your quads, lower back, and glutes. Thus, it can be a great lying leg curl alternative exercise or a hamstring curl alternative that can be done at home.

You just need some weight like dumbbells or kettlebells to perform single-leg deadlifts. You can even perform this exercise without any equipment.

  • Hold a dumbbell each hand or hold a kettlebell by both
  • Stand with one leg straight firm on the ground and second leg little lifted from the ground slightly bent the knee
  • Start bending at the hips, lower your torso while lifting your free leg back till your torso and free leg is parallel to the floor
  • Slowly return to starting position in a controlled motion

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Level: beginner/intermediate

Equipment needed: barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell (optional)

Repetitions per set: 8-12

Lunges can be done with or without equipment. As a resistance, you can use any type of weight, a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells.

Lunges are a great alternative to all types of curls as they target both quads and hams along with your glutes and calves.

  • Stand tall with or without the dumbbells in your hands
  • Step with one foot forward more than your shoulder width. This is your starting position
  • Keep your torso straight and lower your body till the thigh of your front leg is parallel to the floor and the rear knee is almost touching the floor
  • Lift your body up to the starting position
  • Repeat for the set number of reps and then change the leg
  • For variations, you can perform alternate lunges, forward, and reverse lunges

Bulgarian Split Squats

Level: intermediate/advanced

Equipment needed: barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell (optional)

Repetitions per set: 8-12

You just need a chair, bench, bed, or a step that is about your knee height to perform Bulgarian split squats. You can perform these squats holding a dumbbell, kettlebell, or nothing as per your liking.

  • Stand about two feet in front of the knee-high chair or the bench facing away from it.
  • Extend left leg behind and keep its toe on the platform behind you
  • Lower your body moving your left knee down, keeping your torso straight, and bending the front knee. Go down till your front knee from an approximately 90-degree angle.
  • Get back in the starting position. Perform the set reps and repeat them for the other leg.

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You might have had the excuse of knowing limited options for training the large muscles of your legs effectively. But, now you have at least 15 amazing alternatives to the curls. Don’t let the lack of access to leg curl machines come in your way. Utilize any of the above alternatives to the seated, standing, or lying curls to isolate and target the hams and quads better.