Men’s Open bodybuilder Hunter Labrada offered tips for growing calves in April. Continuing with his educational leg training content in May, Labrada shared advice on developing the hamstrings. On May 30, 2023, Labrada published a video on his YouTube channel offering his two cents on seated hamstring curl technique — his primary exercise for hamstring development:
…big fan of seated [leg curls] because of the bracing and the output you’re able to get.
Seated leg curls are low impact when utilized during leg days comprised of compound movements such as squats or deadlifts. Additionally, the leg curl is effective for pre-exhausting the hamstrings. Check out how he performs the exercise below:
Seated Hamstring Curls
Lying hamstring curls are an alternative for hamstring training. Still, Labrada prefers the seated variation due to its efficiency. The exercise is performed by sitting on the machine with quads tucked underneath a padded bar and calves resting on top of the padded lever.
The knee joint should be aligned with the fulcrum of the leg curl machine. If the position of the joint is too far forward or too far back, it could apply unwanted stress to the joint and not allow for proper leverage. Labrada’s most important factors when performing seated hamstring curls are five-fold:
1. Pause in the “Hole”
Pause at the bottom of the curl — when the legs are bent at 90 degrees — for the first few repetitions. This helps avoid momentum and gain a better sense of if the weight is too heavy.
2. Keep the Hips Set
Keeps the hips back and locked into the seat. This helps elongate the hamstrings at the top of the movement and offers more stability. Additionally, the overall output will improve as each rep will move through the full range of motion.
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3. Drive the Heels Up
For full contraction of the hamstrings, imagine driving his heels up until they touch the glutes. While this isn’t doable in the seat, it creates maximum knee flexion (i.e. fully shortening the hamstrings).
4. Use a Belt
During the heavier sets, there is more resistance during the concentric motion, potentially causing the hips to move forward. To combat this, use a belt to secure the hips to the pad. This additional bracing will ensure the hips don’t lose contact with the pad and the load stays on the hamstrings.
5. Control Breathing
During later sets, focus less on the pause at peak contraction and more on driving the heels into the glutes. Exhale during the concentric portion of the lift.
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What’s Next for Hunter Labrada?
Labrada was about 10 weeks from the 2023 Tampa Pro contest at the time he published the above video to his YouTube channel. His strength has trended upward during his prep for that show, as he recently set a lifetime deadlift personal record — 585 pounds for four reps. With his rock-solid techniques and continuing to hit massive PRs, Labrada could very well score gold at the Tampa Pro and secure his qualification for the 2023 Olympia in Orlando, FL, on Nov. 2-5, 2023.
Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram