The Leg Curl Debate

erik ledin leg curlA lot of people these days are very down on leg curls, and not without good reason. Basically, the argument goes that leg curls just are not functional because the hamstrings never function without the gluteal muscles in everyday life, so the supine hip extension with leg curl exercise, which uses the hamstrings and glutes together, is much more useful. This is all accurate, and anybody training for athletic activity looking for functional routines should use SHELC variations (pull-throughs, single-leg Romanian deadlifts, etc.).

But at the same time, it’s also true that any exercise that allows you to add increasing amounts of tension to a muscle will over time lead to muscle growth. And if you are going to do leg curls, you want to make sure you’re doing them right.

There are two ways to do leg curls. The first is where your ankles are dorsi-flexed and your toes are pulled towards your shins. In this position, the calves are free to assist the hamstrings in flexing the knees, and you are able to lift much more weight. However, if you use the calves to plantar-flex the ankle, your hamstrings are required to do all the work, and you cannot lift as much.

While the second way is correct, many people are used to the first way, and they tend to get cramps when they first make the switch. If this happens to you, this is because the neural pathways for the exercise have been established in your brain, and your body trying to get your calves to help out like usual. Rest assured, this cramping will decrease over time as you get used to the new form. A good way to ease yourself into the new form is to start by doing the concentric with your ankles still dorsi-flexed, and then the eccentric with ankles plantar-flexed. Then as time goes on, you can slowly start to do the concentric with the ankles plantar-flexed as well.

Staying Motivated

erik ledin motivationWhat is motivation? How do you keep it up?

Take a second to think about this. What motivates you? Why are you doing this? The strict dieting, the constant saying no to off plan meals, the rough workouts (Bulgarian Squats, anyone?)…

Obviously, you must be doing all of this for a reason, that reason being that you want to get in better shape, look better, feel better, etc. This reason never changes, so why does motivation occasionally diminish? Is it due to lack of progress? In some cases sure, but look back to when you started this journey. I’m sure you look and feel quite different now, and I’m sure you a lot stronger as well. So it can’t really be due to a lack of progress now can it?

When it comes down to it, motivation can actually be a relatively easy thing to maintain. All you have to do is grab a hold onto WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. And by hold onto, I mean keep it at the front of your brain. Let it drive you. Constantly remind yourself how important your goal is to you, the more often the better.

Here’s a quote that helps me stay motivated when I’m trying to achieve my goals:

“Your level of motivation is basically the habit of positivity and that habit, like all others is created by repetition, in this case, repetition of thought.”

Determination isn’t something you’re born with. It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you’ve been in the past, how much you’ve stuck to or strayed from your previous goals. Determination is a habit that anyone and everyone can develop. It takes practice and it takes repetition. Push yourself to think every day, and I mean think deeply, about how you used to look and feel, how you look and feel now, and how you want to look and feel in the future. Do this, and there isn’t anything you can’t achieve.