- Target muscles: Hamstrings (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, Biceps Femoris)
- Synergists: Gastrocnemius, Gracilis, Sartorius, Popliteus, Anterior Deltoid, Triceps Brachii, Sternal (Lower) Pectoralis Major, Clavicular (Upper) Pectoralis Major
- Dynamic stabilizer: Biceps Brachii (short head only)
- Mechanics: Isolation
- Force: Pull
- Place a box or a bench behind the seat of a cable pull-down machine.
- Kneel on the seat of the cable pull-down machine, facing the bench/box, and tightly secure your feet under the rollers.
- For reasons explained below, flex your hips a little and dorsally flex your ankles (i.e. point your toes up towards your shins).
- Cross your arms over your chest or keep them by your sides.
- Inhale as you allow your body to slowly and carefully fall forward, making sure to control the descent as much as possible with your hamstrings.
- Catch your body with your arms and lower your torso to the box/bench as if performing a push-up on your knees.
- Exhale as you push your body back up just enough until your hamstrings can take over and pull your body back up to a vertical position.
- Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Comments and tips
- Keep your hips slightly flexed throughout the exercise. This helps to keep your hamstrings more stretched, which allows them to work more efficiently. This is also why the bench of a lying hamstring curl machine is not straight.
- Keep your ankles dorsally flexed. This allows your gastrocnemius to make as much of a contribution as possible. If your ankles are not dorsally flexed, your gastrocnemius will be loose and therefore unable to make a decent contribution.
- The role of your arms in this exercise is only to prevent you from hitting your face on the box/bench. In other words, your hamstrings should do as much of the work as possible. Use your arms minimally.
- This exercise combines the inverse leg curl, an isolation and pulling exercise, with the push-up, a compound and pushing exercise. Because the push-up part will be minimized as much as possible, I categorized the exercise as an isolated pull.
- The height of the box/bench should not exceed the height of the seat of the lat pull-down machine.
- Use this exercise only when you do not have access to a leg curl machine.
- The inverse leg curl on lat pull-down machine can be made easier by holding on to the lat pull-down bar and adjusting the weight stack to allow you to descend slowly (see the second video). In this instance, you will not need a box/bench in front of you, and the exercise will be more properly known as the assisted inverse leg curl on lat pull-down machine.
- The inverse leg curl is also known as the bodyweight hamstring curl, the manual hamstring curl, and the Nordic hamstring curl.
- See also the inverse leg curl with legs anchored under a barbell.
Inverse leg curl on lat pull-down machine videos
Assisted inverse leg curl on lat pull-down machine
This exercise can be dangerous. For detailed instructions, see the assisted inverse leg curl on lat pull-down machine page.