Nordic Curls – Grow Your Legs With This Amazing Exercise, Learn Proper Form

In the fitness industry, several exercises go through phases. They’re regarded as useless and non-functional at first, then as miraculous cure-alls, and lastly as something in the middle. It happened with kettlebell swings, spinning, and I won’t be surprised if it happens with Nordic ham curls as well. So, try the Nordic hamstring curl if you’re seeking a great hamstring strengthening workout.

Wait what? What the hell is a nordic hamstring curl, exactly? Is that some kind of bicep curl for the winter? What distinguishes it as Nordic? You’ll probably recognize the exercise once you see it because it’s done by a lot of insanely strong people on social media. I’ll explain everything you need to know about nordic curls is in this post.

What Is A Nordic Hamstring Curl, And How Do I Do It?

The Nordic hamstring curl, also known as the Nordic ham curl or inverse leg curl, is a kneeling, lower-body exercise that activates your hamstring muscles by using your bodyweight.

They involve the precise and controlled lowering and raising of the torso while keeping the feet, lower legs, and knees in place.

A Nordic hamstring curl can be considered an eccentric hamstring curl. Muscle activities are classified as concentric, isometric, or eccentric. Concentric contractions are when the muscle shortens; isometric contractions are when the muscle remains the same length; eccentric contractions are when the muscle lengthens; however, even when the muscle remains the same length or lengthens, it is active, not inactive. Consider a bicep curl: concentric is used to raise the weight, isometric is used to keep the weight in position, and eccentric is used to control the weight as it descends.

How To Do Nordic Curls?

Keep in mind that maintaining proper technique during each set is imperative for this exercise. Start with 2–3 sets of 5–10 reps for Nordic hamstring curls that you can perform with impeccable form.

Begin on your knees with a pad or cushion beneath your knees for knee support, and have a workout partner hold your lower legs or ankles in position on the floor. You can also use an immovable piece of equipment, such as a Smith machine with the barbell set to the lowest height, to anchor your lower legs.

  • Place the feet and ankles in line with the knees. Your shoulders should be directly above your hips, and your head and neck should be in a neutral position. 
  • Pre-tension your shoulders and hips by placing your arms by your sides. Your pelvis should be tucked in somewhat. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings while engaging your core. This is the starting position for all repetitions.
  • Slowly drop yourself to the ground, keeping your knees to your head in a straight line. Lower yourself as far as you can using only your upper legs, then lay your hands in front of your body and catch yourself until you can no longer lower yourself in a controlled manner using only your legs. While dropping toward the floor, keep your body in a straight line from your head to your knees.
  • Squeeze your hamstrings to return your body to the beginning posture while preserving your alignment. Use your hands to assist with the upward movement if necessary. To complete the activity, squeeze your glutes and hamstrings while pushing yourself back to the beginning position in a straight line from your head to your knees.
  • Your shoulders should finish squarely over your hips at the end of each repetition.


Always keep an eye on the eccentric. This exercise takes time to master, so build strength slowly and with good form over time.

Make use of your feet’s dorsiflexion. This will allow the hamstrings to lengthen in the most efficient manner possible. To assist in achieving this position, place a foam roller underneath the base of the shins.

Bend at the hips to change the movement’s tension. A modest bend in the hips (20-30 degrees) allows for improved body control throughout the range of motion.

What Muscles Are Targeted By Nordic Curls?

The hamstrings are the primary target of Nordic Curls. This is made up of three muscles on the back (rear) of the upper leg.

  • Biceps femoris 
  • Semimembranosus
  • Semitendinosus

These three muscles are involved in the movement of the knee and hip joints. The biceps femoris is an exception since it only spans the knee joint.

The glutes and spinal erectors are the secondary muscles strengthened by this workout.

There are three muscles that make up the glutes:

  • Gluteus maximus is a muscle in the upper leg.
  • Gluteus medius (middle gluteus)
  • Gluteus minimus is a small gluteus muscle.

The spine is held and supported by the spinal erectors. They also assist in bending the torso up and down.

Benefits Of Nordic Curls

Build Bigger And Stronger Hamstrings

girl running

One of the best hamstring workouts for promoting muscle hypertrophy on the backs of your legs is the Nordic hamstring curl. The Nordic hamstring curl works the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus muscles in the hamstring.

Nordic Hamstring Curls Can Help You Avoid Injuries

This workout helps to avoid hamstring injuries by engaging your knee flexor muscles. The Nordic hamstring curl helps increase knee joint mobility while lowering hamstring strain with frequent exercise.

Nordic Curls Can Help You Perform Better In Other Workouts

If you want to improve your sprinting abilities as a soccer player or runner, do the Nordic hamstring exercise to strengthen your hip extension and knee flexion. Strength-training activities such as deadlifts, push-ups, and hip thrusts can all benefit from hamstring training.

Nordic Hamstring Curls Are Versatile

Consider doing a weighted hamstring curl version with a dumbbell or kettlebell, depending on your fitness level. Use a resistance band for the aided Nordic hamstring curl for an easier variation.

Nordic Curls vs Glute Ham Raise 

The exercise is also known as the poor man’s glute-ham raise, and the two workouts share a lot of similarities. They’re both bodyweight knee flexion exercises that target the hamstrings; the glute-ham raise, however, employs a device that positions the body in an optimal posture for a more effective range of motion.

Equipment Used

The equipment utilized in the Nordic hamstring curl and the glute-ham raise is the key difference. The glute-ham raise uses a machine with an elevated knee pad, while a Nordic hamstring curl does not require any equipment.

Range Of Motion

Nordic hamstring curls have a smaller range of motion than glute-ham raises.

Level Of Difficulty

The nordic curl places somewhat greater pressure on your knees and lower back muscles, which is why it is slightly more difficult to do than the glute-ham raise.

Common Mistakes To Avoid During Nordic Curls

The Hips Bending

he hamstrings traverse several joints and perform a variety of joint motions, including knee flexion (knee bending) and hip extension (straightening the hips when bent at the waist). Because they work on straightening the hips, stiff-leg deadlifts are a hamstring exercise (aka a hip-dominant hamstring exercise). Nordic curls are a hamstring exercise that focuses on the knees. By bending at the waist during the exercise, the body is unknowingly cheating and making Nordic curls simpler.

man demonstrating how to do nordic curls

This is an example of keeping your hips straight during a nordic curl.

man doing nordic curl exercise incorrectly

This is an example of what not to do during nordic curls, i.e, bending at the hips.

Plantarflexing The Ankles

One of two key muscle groups responsible for knee flexion is the hamstrings. The calves are the other. If you perform this exercise with your feet pointed (plantarflexion), the calves will take over the movement from the hamstrings. This is a fun calf workout, but the purpose here is to strengthen your hamstrings. As a result, make sure your ankles are in dorsiflexion when you set up (toes pulled up).

If your ankles are being held down by a partner, make sure you dig your toes into the ground first,

Take Away

When choosing an exercise, keep two things in mind: what is the goal? Is it effective at achieving this goal?

The Nordic ham curl is a terrific workout that has a low injury risk and isn’t too difficult to perform without equipment if you play ground sports, run, or just like the notion of having bigger, fuller hamstrings.

Leave a Comment