How to Do the Swiss Ball Leg Curl - Technique, Muscles Worked and Benefits
The Swiss ball leg curl is a bodyweight exercise that is super popular among fitness enthusiasts. This workout targets the hamstrings while isolating other muscle groups. It is an effective exercise that is beneficial for people of every fitness level. But doing it correctly is crucial if you wish to benefit from it. Even though it seems simple, you must take care of form and posture when performing this workout. This post includes everything you need to know before incorporating the Swiss ball hamstring curl into your workout routine including step-by-step instructions, the muscles this exercise works, and alternatives to it.
What is a Swiss Ball Leg Curl?
The Swiss ball leg curl exercise, also known as a Swiss ball hamstring curl, employs the stability ball to induce instability, which compels you to use your abs and balance your body. As the name suggests, it engages the hamstring and to a lesser extent, also works the glutes, lower back, and abs.
It is an excellent workout to improve the two basic functions of the hamstring: Hip extension and Knee flexion. The ball lets you train this function of the hamstring while demanding only minimal space. Unlike other gym equipment like barbells and dumbbells that require much more space and are also relatively costly. This leg roll is great for beginners and advanced as different variations can make it challenging or less challenging depending upon the fitness goals.
Swiss Ball Leg Curl Form and Technique
How to Do a Swiss Ball Leg Curl (Step by Step)
- Step 1: Lay down on the back with your legs on the Swiss ball. Position the legs in a way that the ankles are on the top of the ball when the legs are completely extended. This will be the starting position.
- Step 2: Now lift your hips off the ground and press the pelvis upwards, forcing your legs and shoulders to lift the body weight.
- Step 3: Bend your knees and tighten your hamstrings to bring the ball as near to you as possible.
- Step 4: Wait a few seconds in this position and then go back to the starting position for the next rep.
Swiss Ball Leg Curl Common Mistakes to Avoid
Not Keeping The Glutes Elevated
Allowing the hips to fall toward the floor is one of the most common mistakes people make when performing Swiss ball hamstring curls. This takes away the focus from the hamstring leading to unnecessary pressure on the lower back. To avoid this, hips should be properly elevated the entire time.
This exercise is not about using momentum to execute. Rather, you must use the hamstring muscles to perform every part of it. This is evident when the ball rolls away from the body rather than staying under control. Focus on making moderate, controlled motions, and only elevate the hips as high as you can to maintain control.
Bad Starting Position
Starting with the ball too far or too close can reduce the effectiveness of this workout. To avoid this mistake, start with the ball close to you then slowly push it away.
Swiss Ball Leg Curl Muscles Worked
Several muscle groups are used directly or indirectly in leg curls to promote functional strength and enhance balance. The primary muscles engaged in this workout are the following:
The hamstring muscles go along the rear of the leg. The three hamstring muscles are the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. They are the most focused muscles during hamstring curls.
The glutes are the body's largest and strongest muscle. The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus are the three muscles that make up the gluteal region, popularly known as the buttocks. The hips are also engaged when elevating to perform this exercise.
The hip and trunk muscles that make up the core surround the spine, abdominal viscera, and glutes. For the upper body to be properly balanced, strong core muscles are crucial. Since balancing is an important element of this workout, the core is frequently engaged.
Benefits of the Swiss Ball Leg Curl
Highly focused exercises, like the Swiss leg curl, may not bring a wide variety of benefits but they do bring concentrated advantages. Here are some of these benefits:
- Spinal stability and balance – Swiss ball is shaky and tests your balance and stability. This helps you improve your spinal coordination, flexibility, and overall stability, especially among sedentary women.
- Strengthened hamstrings – The Swiss ball leg curl is a targeted workout that guarantees the hamstrings are strengthened and the endurance is increased. Strong hamstrings are crucial for various other fitness activities as well such as running, jumping, and weightlifting.
- Improves lower body strength – When performing lower body movements like squats, deadlifts, and lunges, strong hamstrings can increase the amount of force produced. As a result, leg curls become a necessity to perform other workouts efficiently.
Swiss Ball Leg Curl Variations
The Swiss ball hamstring curl can be done in different styles to cater to different difficulty levels. The most common variations are listed below:
Swiss Ball Single Leg Curl
To make the curl challenging and more advanced, a single-leg variant can be performed to increase the stability and core strength of experienced lifters. The starting position is similar to the standard Swiss ball hamstring curl, with the exception that one leg is used to move the ball rather than both, while the other leg is left elevated in the air.
Swiss Ball Back Extension
This variant helps activate the lower back muscle while using the body weight on the stability ball. The performer starts by laying face down on the stability ball with legs on the floor and arms on the side. Now lift your upper body by contracting your abdominals and lower back muscles. Slowly go back down to the starting position and start the next rep.
Swiss Ball Hip Extension
There are various postures in which to carry out this hip extension variation. The most typical one is to begin by lying on the ball face down with your legs and hands on the floor. Then lift one leg and bring it back down. Don’t bring it all the way to the floor but rather keep it elevated at all times. One leg is focused at a time.
Swiss Ball Bridge
Lie with your head and back on the ball while being face up. The legs stay on the ground, forming a bridge position. Keep the core engaged by keeping the stomach tight and lifting the buttocks. Use leg power as well to lift and bring down the buttocks.
Swiss Ball Leg Curl Alternatives
Don't worry if you don't have a Swiss ball or if you do but don't want to include this exercise in your workout regimen. The following alternatives could offer similar benefits.
A well-known kettlebell exercise that works the hamstrings and glutes is the snatch. The kettlebell is swung up until it is straight overhead, then it is swung back down. Since it is a great blend of weightlifting and cardio, it is preferred by people with different fitness goals.
However, it is an advanced exercise and beginners cannot perform it effectively without the help of a trainer. It also poses a serious threat of injury if done incorrectly.
This exercise also mainly focuses on hamstrings while improving body stability and balance. Slider curls are executed using a slider or a towel placed under your feet to create a smooth, sliding motion. Start by lying on your back with your feet on the sliders and hips off the ground. While keeping your hips raised, slowly slide your heels to be in a bridge position. At the peak of the motion, pause for a little moment before slowly bringing your feet back to the beginning position. Repeat to complete the desired reps.
Swiss Ball Leg Curl FAQs
Who Should Do The Swiss Ball Leg Curl?
The leg curl is a simple exercise that can be performed by beginners as well as experienced people such as bodybuilders.
Beginners usually include this in their routine to benefit from at least one form of curl variation.
Weightlifters include hamstring curls in their strength training routines as it helps with body coordination while also improving hip flexion.
What Body Part Should I Focus on During a Swiss Ball Leg Curl?
While doing this exercise, you should fully engage the hamstring to get the most out of this exercise. It also focuses on other muscle groups as the coordination and balance required can not possibly come from one body part. Following are the primary and secondary muscles you should work on:
- Hamstrings - maintaining lower body balance is important and that’s why the hamstring is a major focus to stabilize the body.
- Hips - Glutes are also involved to maintain balance and ensure smooth movement.
- Core Muscles - The abs and lower body are engaged the entire time as they help in keeping the position intact.
But unlike most strength training exercises, the curl does not focus on several muscles at once and that makes it a good focused workout.
How Often Should I Do Swiss Ball Leg Curls?
Depending on the person's goals and degree of fitness, Swiss ball hamstring curls can be performed quite frequently. Beginners should attempt one to two sessions per week, but these sessions should not be on consecutive days. Gymgoers with experience should aim for three to four sessions each week.
How Many Reps And Sets Should I Do For the Swiss Ball Leg Curl?
The answer to this question depends on your exercise objectives and experience level.
- Beginners should start small and aim for six to eight reps per set.
- Experienced lifters should perform eight to twelve reps.
Increasing the reps won't always result in increased benefits because it can compromise form and increase the risk of injury. Only perform as many as you can with accuracy.
You can execute one to four sets depending on your fitness level.
- Beginners should start with one to two sets for muscle activation.
- Experienced people who focus on weightlifting should do three to four sets to improve endurance and flexion.
The sets and reps are interlinked. The key is to keep them in balance. If you ever feel that the workout is getting too simple and you are capable of more, go for it.
How to Add the Swiss Ball Leg Curl To My Routine?
Most strength training exercises engage almost all body parts either directly or indirectly. With these full-body workouts, it is always a good idea to incorporate focused pieces of training as well. Start by devoting a small part of your routine to it, and as you feel the need, progressively increase it.
How Do I Progress with the Swiss Ball Leg Curl?
To progress with the leg curl, make the following change:
- Learn the form - Start by gaining as much knowledge as possible then practice the stance and actions until you can control it.
- Increase the frequency - Increase the reps and sets over time as your capability improves.
- Include variations - Try out variations of the Swiss ball hamstring curls, such as single-leg curl, and ball bridge.
You must advance gradually and steadily if you want to master the curl and meet your fitness objectives.
The Swiss ball leg curl is certainly a valuable addition to your fitness routine as it offers lower body strength and stability. This workout is usually considered safe as it is relatively simple but regardless, a bad form or posture can lead to injury. Thus, doing it with full concentration and under supervision is crucial. All you need to know about the swiss ball hamstring curl is covered in this article, ensuring that you execute well and get the most out of your efforts. All that is left to do now is to start doing it.