The definitive guide to Nordic Hamstring Curl

nordic hamstring curl

The definitive guide to Nordic Hamstring Curls

Nordic Hamstring curls strengthen hamstrings. It’s a versatile approach to working your hamstrings while lifting. Simple hamstring curls can be done at home, at work, or outside. Nordic Ham Curls have several routines and difficulty levels that anyone can use. Form is crucial.


How do I do a standard Nordic Hamstring curl?

Nordic curls entail kneeling on a cushion and lowering slowly. A partner, barbell, or other immovable object holds the ankles. Lean forwards using your hamstrings, not your hips. Slow, controlled movement is required.

Nordic Curls are easier if you get as low as possible without using your hands/arms. When your legs fail, put your hands on the floor. Repeat the process.

What are the different variations of the Nordic Hamstring Curl?

If you can’t do full Nordic Curls, try this variation with a resistance band. This will help you increase strength and complete the maneuver. Attach a resistance band to the machine behind you. Hold the other end of the band above your head. The band slows your descent.


Do Nordic curls increase knee injury risk?

No exercise is negative for your knees; loading and volume matter. Start with a resistance band and a few reps and sets to build up to Nordic hamstring curls (low volume). See how you feel, then gradually increase volume or load. If this position hurts your knees, use padding. Unless you have knee issues. Work up to them like a pull-up: slowly.

1: use a fitness ball to limit the range of motion for nordic curls,

2: full negatives (push yourself back up explosively with your arms, but lower as far as you can.)

You can control a larger ROM and slower speed as you gain stronger.

Eccentric Hamstring Strengthening Distally and Proximally

The reverse nordic curl has more of an eccentric focus though and eccentric strength likely being the reason we see hamstring injuries drop when using the regular nordic curl.

What are the benefits of the Nordic Hamstring Curl?

According to soccer player research and testing, reducing NHE volume did not alter eccentric strength and muscle architecture.

Smaller doses of NHE may be better for athletes to increase intervention compliance and reduce HSI risk (Cuthbert, McMahon, Evans, Haff & Comfort, 2020).

Nordic hamstring exercise (NHE) improves hamstring architecture and strength (Cuthbert, McMahon, Evans, Haff & Comfort, 2020).

Research suggests its use in strength and conditioning minimizes hamstring injuries. Mixed-sport hamstring injuries are common.

The reverse nordic curl and, by extension, the leg extension (you can create decent eccentric stress with 2 up 1 down) may have a comparable injury-lowering effect on the rectus femoris. Overall, rectus femoris injuries are rare. Fusiform, fast-twitch, high-activation hamstrings are employed at top speeds more than rec fem.


What muscles do Nordic hamstring curls target?

The nordic (hamstring is implied) curl is an eccentrically focused training exercise for the hamstrings.

There is less research into the leg extension and the reverse nordic curl, which both train the rectus femoris rather well.



Nordic Hamstring curls may be the most flexible weight-lifting hamstring workout. Different variations of Nordic Hamstring curls can be done at home, at work, or outdoors. No exercise is ‘bad for your knees; it’s just a matter of loading and volume. The Nordic hamstring exercise (NHE) has provided positive architectural and strength adaptations in the hamstrings. Some research suggests that its periodic use in strength & conditioning reduces the incidence of a hamstring injury. The nordic (hamstring is implied) curl is an eccentrically focused training exercise for the Hamstrings.


Cuthbert M, Ripley N, McMahon JJ, Evans M, Haff GG, Comfort P. The Effect of Nordic Hamstring Exercise Intervention Volume on Eccentric Strength and Muscle Architecture Adaptations: A Systematic Review and Meta-analyses. Sports Med. 2020 Jan;50(1):83-99. DOI: 10.1007/s40279-019-01178-7. Erratum in: Sports Med. 2019 Nov 7;: PMID: 31502142; PMCID: PMC6942028.

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