The hamstring curl strengthens the back of the thigh and works the muscles opposite to those strengthened in the quadriceps extension. Doing both of these exercises will help keep the thigh muscles balanced.
Start on all fours with your knees bent directly under your hip bones, weight supported on elbows. Keep elbows shoulder-width apart and forearms flat on the floor, hands crossed. Hold your abdominals in and keep your hips tucked up toward the ceiling to prevent arching your back. Straighten left leg and lift up to hip height, toes pointed toward floor.
Bend the knee and concentrate on the contraction in the hamstring. Straighten left leg through the knee joint with a slow, controlled motion. Repeat for 8 times. Repeat with right leg. Progress to 3 sets of 8 with each leg.
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Lisa Faremouth is a fitness specialist who is a certified exercise instructor and member of the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobic Fitness Associates of America. She was awarded a silver medal in the Reebok National Aerobic 1989 Championships for the Midwest region and has served as director of exercise programs for a large health club in Chicago. Through her company, Fitfully Yours, she provides education, consultation, training, and workshops to fitness centers, corporations, and individuals worldwide.