What Does an Aerobic Leg Curl Work?

by Mya Passmore

About Mya Passmore

Based in Atlanta, Mya Passmore has been writing since 2010, covering health and business topics. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from George Washington University.


Whether running, cycling or performing aerobic dance exercises, warming up is always a good idea. For dancers, the aerobic leg curl is usually incorporated into the routine. It effectively stretches several of the muscles of the upper- and lower-body. Unlike its counterpart, the hamstring curl, the aerobic leg curl does not require weights.

Quads and Hamstrings

Performing an aerobic leg curl requires the knee to bend, and the heel of one foot to lift toward the buttocks. As the lower-leg bends, the muscles of the quadriceps are worked. The hamstring muscles are worked when the lower-leg is brought back down to the starting position -- face-front, on both standing legs shoulder-width apart. Wearing ankle weights or performing these exercises in a pool adds additional resistance and can increase the intensity of the exercise.


Sometimes, an instructor will ask you to bend your knees a bit, “sit back on your heels” and then perform an aerobic leg curl. Shifting the body’s weight to the back of the heels activates the muscles in the back of the legs. This means the back leg muscles of the standing leg, particularly the hamstrings and the glutes, support the body. The squat, which also requires sitting back on the heels, works the glutes and hamstrings as well.

Inner Thigh Muscles

The diagonal leg curl is another variation of the aerobic leg curl. Like the basic leg curl, it requires bending the knee and lifting the heel toward the buttocks. Instead of angling the bent leg straight up, it should be slightly angled toward the opposite leg. In other words, the bent knee is pointed toward the opposite thigh. This slight angling of the lower-leg forms an approximate 45 degree angle with the standing leg, and works the inner-thigh muscles -- the adductors -- of the bent leg.


Arm motions are often incorporated with aerobic leg workout routines, and aerobic leg curls are no different. One popular arm motion that often coincides with the aerobic leg is the bicep curl. As the heel comes up toward the buttocks, the arms -- already bent at 90 degree angles -- bend toward the triceps. This motion works the biceps, and it will work them more vigorously if you use heavy or light handweights.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.