Hammer Your Hamstrings With Hanging Dumbbell Leg Curls

Looking for a new hamstring and inner thigh exercise? Have we got one for you! This unique hamstring exercise will give you an extremely intense contraction. It’s the perfect exercise to finish off your legs!

If you’ve ever done concentration curls for your biceps, you know exactly how intense the contraction can be. If you’ve ever done them without your arm braced against your leg, you know that the contraction can be even stronger.

Now imagine this type of exercise for your legs… Well, we have an exercise that gives you this kind of intense contraction for the hamstrings. Plus, the execution of the exercise also provides a great inner thigh workout!

The Set Up

To do this exercise, you will need either a chin-up bar (if your grip is strong) or a hanging abdominal chair (one that has a back-rest and two padded arm rests but no seat—typically used to do leg raises).

The Ab Chair variation will eliminate grip strength as a factor, allowing you to concentrate completely on your hamstrings. The chin-up bar hanging, however, has the added bonus of greatly helping you improve your grip strength (you can use straps however if you want).

Getting Started

“Set a dumbbell horizontally between your ankles with the front plates at the top of your feet and the handle directly between your ankles.”

Start with a fairly light dumbbell to get an idea of how the exercise works and what amount of weight you can use for it. Set a dumbbell horizontally between your ankles with the front plates at the top of your feet and the handle directly between your ankles. Pinch your feet together to support it. It is this pinching aspect of the exercise that really hits the inner thighs hard.

Now comes the tricky part. You will need to reach up and hang from the chin-up bar or set yourself in the Ab Chair while keeping the dumbbell tightly locked between your feet.

You can stand on a bench or box to do this exercise or you can also do this in reverse order. Set the dumbbell on the bench or box, get into hanging position/ab chair position, then reach out with your legs and pinch the dumbbell between your ankles. You will need to stand the dumbbell on end to accomplish this. You won’t be able to get your feet under the dumbbell plates otherwise. Alternatively, you can have a spotter set the dumbbell between your feet while you’re hanging.

The Exercise

Be sure you have a good grip on the bar/chair. Then simply leg curl the dumbbell up behind you. Squeeze your hamstrings as hard as you can at the top (you most likely won’t have a choice at this point!), and then lower the dumbbell back down slowly. The movement is an exact duplicate of the bent-over, free-hanging dumbbell concentration curl for the biceps of your arm. You should feel a strong contraction in your hamstrings from the curl movement and a good burn starting in your inner thighs from the effort of keeping the dumbbell locked in and supported.

“You should feel a strong contraction in your hamstrings from the curl movement and a good burn starting…”

To prevent forward motion of your knees, have a spotter brace your thighs so you don’t swing forward during the movement. Keeping your thighs from swinging forward (and your hips from flexing) also serves to keep the hip extended throughout the movement, which will increase the contraction. If you don’t have a partner available to brace your thighs, you can accomplish this in the power rack. Set another bar at thigh level in the rack so you can use that to brace against.


A good variation of the Hanging Dumbbell Leg Curl is to almost do a hanging knee raise with a dumbbell between your feet. Your knees will come slightly up in front and you’ll pull the dumbbell straight up, not in an arc like in the regular version.

This version involves your hip flexors so you must concentrate on pulling the dumbbell straight up to your butt as high as you can, pulling up with your hamstrings rather than with your hip flexors. The hip flexor assistance and improved leverage will allow you to use much heavier weight for this version of the exercise.

In Conclusion

Give the Hanging Dumbbell Leg Curl a try on your next leg training day. It’s certain to give you one of the strongest contractions you’ve ever felt in your hamstrings.

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