Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsIsolation
  • Force TypePull
  • Experience LevelIntermediate
  • Secondary Muscles
Target Muscle Group


Hamstrings Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Dumbbell Hamstring Curl Instructions

  1. Set up for the dumbbell hamstring curl by elevating a flat bench on a block or step. You can use a grounded flat bench, but elevating it gives you a better range of motion and more efficiently recruits the hamstrings.
  2. Now choose the appropriate dumbbell and set it on the ground near the lower end of the bench.
  3. Lie face down on the bench and position yourself so that your knees are at the edge of the bench.
  4. Pick up the dumbbell from the floor with your feet, securing it between the arches of your two feet. 
  5. Your legs should be fully extended and you can wrap your arms around the bench for stability. This is the starting position.
  6. Bending at the knees only, slowly curl the dumbbell up towards your buttocks. 
  7. Raise the dumbbell as far as comfortably possible or just past 90 degrees. 
  8. Pause for a moment and then lower the dumbbell in a controlled manner back to the starting position.
  9. Repeat for desired reps.

Dumbbell Hamstring Curl Tips

  • Start the exercise by using a very light weight. You will want to keep your upper body and upper legs as still as possible throughout the movement. Using a dumbbell that is too heavy for you may cause your body to jerk or swing which can lead to injury.
  • You can have a training partner place the dumbbell properly between your feet if you have a hard time lifting it from the floor.
  • Always make sure that the dumbbell is completely secure between your feet before beginning the movement.
  • Focus on moving the weight with your hamstrings utilizing a full range of motion.
Posted on: Wed, 01/31/2024 - 21:43

Don't try this with an adjustable dumbbell. I just broke mine trying...

Posted on: Thu, 01/04/2024 - 13:23

I was having difficulty getting in to position for this one. I had my son place the dumbbell after I was in position.

Since then, I switched to a setup that allows me to strap a dumbbell to my foot, but I have to do each leg individually.

Posted on: Thu, 12/22/2022 - 04:34

Is there an alternative to this other than the stiff legged deadlift?

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Posted on: Thu, 12/22/2022 - 06:12

You can do lunges, but other than that, your hamstring exercises with dumbbells are limited.

Posted on: Sat, 07/30/2022 - 17:39

Can i lie on the ground instead and do this?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/09/2022 - 08:43

You sure can. Keep tension on the hamstrings by not allowing the dumbbell to touch the floor until the set is over, Martin. I hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 01/08/2022 - 06:42

Would be great to see in the video how the weight is positioned as just tried, really hard to get the dumbbell in position to lift, near on impossible.

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Posted on: Thu, 01/13/2022 - 16:28

Place the weight on the floor where your feet would be once you're lying on the bench. Take your time to position your feet around the dumbbell and secure it. Once it is in place, slowly lift your feet up. If positioned correctly, the dumbbell should stay between your feet.

Posted on: Mon, 05/03/2021 - 19:31

Are there any dumbbell only alternatives to this besides stuff legged deadlifts? My only equipment are dumbbells and stairs.

Posted on: Sat, 12/05/2020 - 13:32

I have a set of adjustable dumbbells by Powerblock. They're not exactly dumbbell shaped. Any alternate movements/exercises, as the blocks don't lend themselves too well to feet grips without falling apart?

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Posted on: Mon, 12/07/2020 - 09:19

Hey Patti - You can do stiff leg deadlifts as an alternative. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/dumbbell-stiff-leg-deadlift....

Terje Andreas Solem
Posted on: Tue, 09/01/2020 - 05:36

This exercise was difficult for me like a lot of others here. I swapped out the bench with a mat. Then it was easy to get hold of the dumbbell with my feet, and I was not worried about overreaching and getting injured when decending.

Posted on: Sun, 04/26/2020 - 13:58

Please show and explain how you get the dumbbell between your feet without help and how you get it to stay there! I have attempted this many times only to not be able to grab the weight with my feet, or for the dumbbell to keep dropping etc..... it is so frustrating!!!

Posted on: Thu, 12/24/2020 - 21:27

I spread my legs out kind of like a frog (with my groin at the end of the bench) to grab the weight and then I close my legs up as I lift the weight off the floor and pull my body up on to the bench. It took some practice, but I like this exercise after I got it worked out how to get it started.

Kanhaiya Moharir
Posted on: Wed, 11/13/2019 - 09:01

Is there any alternative exercise for this? The dumbell keeps slipping away as I have the BowFlex ones which is tough to hold using ur feet

Frank Reyes
Posted on: Wed, 06/03/2020 - 23:25

Deadlift RDL

Posted on: Tue, 08/04/2020 - 17:56

I have the same issue. I can’t do this with bow flex adjustable dumbbells without assistance.

John Dough
Posted on: Thu, 06/21/2018 - 11:52

The profile says it only targets the hamstrings and no other muscles, but these also use the adductors to keep the barbell between your feet.

Douglas Boswell
Posted on: Wed, 05/02/2018 - 19:18

Can you add to video how he lifts them from the floor? Can't seem to do it myself unless its 10lbs or less, otherwise it slips out, and I feel nothing when its do light

Posted on: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 14:07

Feels a bit heavy on the waist too

Posted on: Sat, 06/24/2017 - 16:43

Pretty dangerous if you do not do the right form. If you have knee problems I would suggest an alternative excercise. Yet, if you do it right you won't be able to stand up for days :P Great workout.

Noah Penaflor
Posted on: Wed, 08/05/2020 - 22:47

I just do squats instead

Posted on: Mon, 01/25/2016 - 03:15

Is there any way to do this without the use of a bench, such as off a bed or chair?

Thank you.

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Posted on: Mon, 01/25/2016 - 09:25


If have access a physioball, I would recommend these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APokXtUhFzc

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Posted on: Mon, 02/01/2016 - 09:29

Yep, an excellent choice actually. I would highly recommend those.

Posted on: Sat, 01/30/2016 - 20:35

Thanks Mike,

I am unable to inflate my medicine ball I have though, could an exercise like hamstring sliders be a good substitute? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5tmLdIG_TI

Mini hulk
Posted on: Wed, 09/10/2014 - 13:38

I use a resistance band and I put my feet in the band and I curl up one leg at a time while my other leg holds the band down. I like this exercise better, it looks better, thanks

Posted on: Tue, 06/24/2014 - 23:32

I don't have a bench at the moment, can this exercise be done with my legs dangling off the side of my bed?


Posted on: Tue, 06/24/2014 - 23:29

I don't have a bench at the moment so can I do this exercise with my legs dangling off the side of
my bed?

Thank you.

Posted on: Sat, 12/14/2013 - 16:17

I hadn't actually thought of this, but seems pretty genius! Maybe I will use some tape to hold the weights up! Will be sharing with our readers.


Posted on: Tue, 06/05/2012 - 18:15

This is hard part. My dumbbell always fall off from my feet over and over again.
Your video is so great. I have to try to start over.
Thank you for your videos.