As a people watcher, I like to gaze around the gym in between sets. I’ll crank out some reps, include a filler, then check out what other people are doing. When I’m training alone, it gives me a chance to search for spotters if I have a heavy set coming up. If I’m by myself, it lets me check out some of the trends in the area. I’ve learned some interesting things, but most of of the time I feel like this:
The most butchered and overused exercises by far are bicep curls. I love to hate on bicep curls, but there are two versions that I really like: Hammer Curls with Fat Grip and Supine Hip Extended Leg Curls. Yup, we’re talking about SHELCs today. If you’re looking for a ticket to the gun show, check out The Problem with Most Bicep Exercises, from my brother of the barbell, Tony Bonvechio. He’ll actually talk about arms.
The Supine Hip Extended Leg Curl is an awesome exercise for the better bicep, the biceps femoris. True isolation doesn’t exist, so I’ll have you know that it’s also a fantastic exercise for the gastrocnemius as well as the glutes. Your posterior chain will love you for this one:
Supine Hip Extended Leg Curls are awesome exercises, but they can be tricky. Today I’ve compiled a list of several variations that you’re sure to enjoy. For each of them, create a straight line from your head to your heels, lift your hips to the ceiling, then pull your heels towards your butt. Eccentric control is important, so don’t let your feet come flying back out at the bottom. These can be integrated into your workouts after you finish your main movement, and depending on your training, can be used for 2-5 sets of 6-12 reps.
The most hamstring-friendly, or least intensive SHELC is the Swiss ball variation. It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s less taxing than the other variations. Here’s an example:
After the Swiss Ball Variation, there exists two TRX Variations that you can use. The first one, a body curl, tends to be a little bit more hamstring friendly. Here’s a video from MBSC:
Supporting your heels in the foot cradles is a closer to the feel of the physioball variation, and a bit harder:
Once you’ve mastered those variations, it’s time to take a departure from the TRX. The ValSlide is a great tool that let’s you do SHELCs almost anywhere there’s a floor. Which is everywhere, unless you’re in the ocean, which you’re not, unless you’re a dolphin, which I highly doubt because dolphins can’t read my blog, and can’t do leg curls anyway. Anyway, the ValSlide SHELC:
The ValSlide leg curl can be very challenging, and the options for variations and modifications are endless. It’s a great exercise for hamstring development as well as knee health, and it’s relatively easy to to figure out. If you’re looking for more complex variations, here’s an inverted row body curl combination from progression progressive, Ben Bruno.
If you’d like more of Ben’s variations, check out his Leg Curls 2.0 article on T-Nation. In my recent love of Batwing variations, I’ve attempted to turn that row/SHELC combo into an isometric row throughout the set. As you can see from my body slowly dropping throughout the set, my upper back was the weak link:
Each of these SHELC variations offer the same benefits: Strength through the posterior chain and hamstring development. If you’re looking for strong legs, this is one to include in your programming. Start at the top and work your way through these progressions and you’ll be set. If you don’t have access to a TRX, ValSlides, or Swiss Ball, you can find them on my Amazon aStore.
Butt up, and happy curling!