I've been using the leg curl machine recently, and I am wondering if how far apart one's legs are makes a difference to the exercise. Usually my feet are regular squat-width apart (shoulder width).

With bicep curls with a barbell we have variations - wide arm, narrow grip etc. Is it the same for hamstring curls?

  • Any particular reason you're not using free weights?
    – Eric
    May 8, 2015 at 11:02
  • 1
    For hamstring curl? How would I do that? And why would they be better than the machine? May 8, 2015 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


There are two differences with the hamstring curl.

  • To target the two hamstring groups separately (the lateral biceps femoris or the medial semitendinosus and semimembranosus) you don't vary the width of your feet, but the angle of your feet.

If you want to engage the biceps femoris more, then angle your feet outward, while keeping the legs parallel.

If you want to engage the semi-muscles more, then angle your feet inward.

  • Also, in order to isolate the hamstrings during the curl, you can disengage the gastrocnemius by plantarflexing your feet. By dorsiflexing the feet, the hamstring curl becomes a calf-exercise as well.

The three muscles that make up the hamstring

  • This is a good answer, but could you edit it with an illustration of the two hamstring groups? I think that would really drive the point home.
    – Alec
    May 8, 2015 at 8:33
  • Yes, have you got a couple of images? Sounds very interesting! May 8, 2015 at 9:25

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