In the second instalment of our lower body stabilisation series of exercise tutorials, we feature the Single Lying Leg Curl.
In terms of complexity of movement, this exercise is relatively basic. In terms of overall benefits to the structural balance of fight athletes, this exercise is absolutely underrated. There are many variations of this basic movement including different foot positions, using both legs or 'two-up-one-down' variations, different tempos etc. For building structural balance there is only the real necessity for focussing on the basic movement pattern which is unilateral knee flexion.
Some of the benefits of strong hamstrings through the knee flexion movement are as follows:
* Building knee stability - among other roles, the hamstrings essentially act like dynamic ACL (anterior cruciate ligaments), meaning that they help to protect the knee joint from anterior shear forces. The stronger the hamstrings are in this role, the less likely an athlete is to blow out one of the major ligaments in the knee due to the increased stability of the joint. ACL and other major ligament injuries are very common in the fight community, this exercise serves a sort of insurance policy for the knee joint.
* Increased power output in kicks - for strikers, increasing the strength and stability of the major hamstrings muscles (semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris) will potentiate increases in kicking power. Hamstring strength in conjunction with quadriceps strength and development will undoubtedly enable a fighter to throw harder kicks, once the fighter learns how to express the new found strength.
* Increased strength and endurance in isometric holds during grappling - a good example of this is the triangle choke. The stronger and more developed the hamstrings, the tighter the squeeze and longer duration the fighter will be able to apply the triangle choke technique. This applies to a whole host of other grappling positions in which the hamstrings are engaged to squeeze or control an opponent.
Be sure to utilise a full range of motion, bring the foot pad all the way up to the glute, and control the eccentric tempo for 4 seconds as suggested in the video.
Treat this exercise as a high threshold strength building exercise, using low-moderate rep-ranges. Do not use this exercise to build strength endurance by training with rep ranges over 10-12 reps, the hamstrings muscles are typically 'fast twitch' dominant meaning that they respond best to higher loads and lower rep-ranges.
Special thanks to Unknown Coach Nadia Piazza, Unknown sponsored MMA athlete Yvonne Chow, and videographer Teresa McNair.