I’m not a big believer in using machines. This is especially true for the wrestlers I train. However, there is one machine that I like- the machine leg curl.
Are there better ways to train the hamstrings? Specifically, exercises that have a better carryover to performing on the mat?
Yes, I would definitely suggest other options.
However, another consideration to lifting, other than performance enhancement, is injury prevention.
The Machine Leg Curl has been shown most effective at producing the highest level of EMG activity in the biceps femoris.
The biceps femoris is the lateral (outer most) hamstring muscle. It is most commonly used for knee flexion (bringing your heels toward your butt).
Why is it important to strengthen this muscle with leg curls?
Especially considering we know that hip extension is the more important movement produced from the hamstrings?
It is my belief that by strengthening the biceps femoris, you will increase the lateral (outside) stability of the knee.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find research to support my assumption. On top of that, the injuries a couple of the wrestlers I train sustained were all during “funk” situations (contact injuries).
There is a lot of research on strength training minimizing non-contact injuries. Non-contact injuries occur most often when you’re running, landing, or moving explosively and tear something.
It’s a lot harder to train for contact related injuries simply because of the unpredictable nature. I mean, think of how your leg may get twisted around in a funk roll.
So, while it is my belief that machine leg curls will help increase the lateral stabilization at your knee, I can’t promise they’re going to make you injury proof in a match.
Anyway, enough with the boring stuff. Here’s what you came for, a cool video of me demonstrating!
Please note that this video shows the exercise without a hold. Sometimes I’ll program the Machine Leg Curl to have an added hold. If that’s the case, hold the bottom position (where your shins are perpendicular to the floor) for 2-3 seconds.