Equipment Education- Inverse Curl

 In athletics the hamstrings are rarely, if ever used by themselves… so why should athletes train them only isolated?

While its true hamstring curls have their place in training here at Westside, as well as in weight rooms around the world, but curls alone are not enough. Though the Inverse Curl is only one piece of the puzzle that is strength training, it is by far one of the most important pieces on the market. 

I always look at the Inverse Curl as a means to work through a simple 1-10 scale… 1 being unable to perform a Glute Ham Raise properly, and 10 being able to perform Glute Ham Raises with added weight for multiple reps. No One can go from a 1 to a 10 without the practice and a means to get there. 

Enter the Westside Barbell Inverse Curl.

The Inverse Curl allows us to complete steps 2 through 8, as maintaining proper form and hip alignment is imperative for progress. Hips back kipping GHRs do little to no good for the athlete.

For beginners, or athletes with terribly weak hamstrings: 

Place the athlete’s knees on the middle of the knee pad with the ankles locked securely into the adjustable rollers. The roller/kick plate apparatus should be placed at the appropriate position so the user does not “crowd” the front of the knee pad. 

Then load the counterweight peg with the user’s body weight or slightly above. (The heavier the peg, the lighter the rep.) This will allows the user to “feel” the range of motion and will cause them to better understand the execution. 

Place the chest pad, at a setting above the user’s sternum, while simultaneously ensuring the arch in the back is maintained. There should be no rounding at anytime during the set. 

For Advanced Users

I recommend “exploring the machine” meaning variety! The Inverse Curl Machine is only one machine, but it can perform many functions. Adjust he kick plate so the user’s knees are in different locations on the knee pad. You will be surprised how having the front of the thigh forward or back even an inch changes the difficulty. 

Add or remove weight from the peg. After using the Inverse Curl Machine with moderate weight, and dropping to 20% of the body weight or less you will begin to feel what a real Glute Ham Raise should feel like, and why the Inverse Curl is so effective! 

Use the ankle rollers open and closed, locking the ankles in will place serious tension on the hamstrings, while leaving them open will cause greater muscle recruitment in the calves and lower hamstring. You can also perform reps with the heels on the kick plate only, and recruit more glute/hamstring over calf. 

Place the hands under the chest roller or on top. The execution of the rep and range of motion will not change, but the firing patterns and muscles will, causing a greater adaption and greater results in performance.

Execution of the exercise 

To perform the rep, be it a standard repetition or any variation listed or not listed, after setting up.

  1. Maintain the arch of the back while “hinging” at the knee.
  2. Maintain intra-abdominal pressure, as well as tension in the upper back, throughout the ROM and lower the head and torso,
  3. begin by striving for parallel, then the second that is accomplished go lower until the head is less than an inch from the deck. 
  4. To complete the concentric portion of the inverse curl, begin contracting each muscle group in the posterior chain one by one, beginning with the calves, then hamstrings, glutes, and finally the erectors by keeping the chin elevated throughout execution. 
  5. Move through the exercise quickly, but under control… If you feel that you are losing the arch in the back, or have started kicking the hips back have a partner add additional weight to the peg in order to complete the set with proper form.

Once the user can perform four sets of 15 perfect reps, make a change in execution and reintroduce a means of difficulty in order to avoid accommodation. 

With all of that said, users can stay in the down position of the exercise as well and contract the glutes while using a shorter ROM to focus on glutes and upper hamstrings. This is a tremendous variation for ball players, or any athlete that needs  a powerful ass on them!

For strength training strive for two workouts a week minimum on the Westside Barbell Inverse Curl. If the hamstrings are the weak link in the squat or deadlift perform Inverse Curls immediately following your main movement, This day should be difficult, but not terribly high in volume. On Dynamic Day, perform higher rep sets for multiple sets, and / or superset another exercise for the legs.

Remember for accessory work, do not adhere to a specific rep / set prior to training. As Louie says, “If your accessory work is hard, it’s working.” Keep training hard, and your PRs will reflect and improve.

To summarize the Westside Barbell Inverse Curl Machine simply makes athletes better! The firing pattern of the muscles perfectly mimics athletics, be it the lower body while throwing, sprinting, lifting, or jumping. We have seen nothing, but tremendous results with this piece.
Faster pitching in baseball, stronger baller players, heavier (and faster) cleans / snatches, stronger squats, harder punches, and FASTER sprints! The list goes on and on. 

Coaches and gym owners should perceive the addition of the Westside Barbell Inverse Curl Machine an investment in training quality, not the purchase of a new machine. At $2595.00 ($2995.00 with storage) you will truly reap the rewards of your efforts!

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