The hamstrings are necessary for walking, running, leaping, and pelvic pivoting. It involves the cautious and controlled lowering and raising of the torso with the feet, lower legs, and knees secured in place.
The Nordic ham curl, or the inverse leg curl, is a lower-body workout that activates your hamstring muscles by using your body weight. The hamstrings, being the most injury-prone muscles, could benefit from this eccentric workout where the hams are effectively activated while the leg muscles increase in length.
In this article, we’ll discuss what Nordic hamstring curls are, what they’re used for, why it remains to be a highly-favored workout by athletes, why you should too.
This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:
- How To Do A Nordic Ham Curl
- Nordic Ham Curl Benefits
- Common Nordic Ham Curl Mistakes To Avoid
- Nordic Ham Curl Muscles Worked
- Nordic Ham Curl vs Glute Ham Raise
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
- Nordic Ham Curl Variations
- Alternative Exercises
- FAQs About Nordic Ham Curl
How To Do A Nordic Ham Curl
- A Weighted Barbell
- Smith Machine
- Lat Pull Down Machine
- Household Furniture
- Other Gym Equipment
In it’s essence, the Nordic hamstring curl could be performed without the need for any pieces of equipment. If you have a gym partner, they can help you keep your ankles in position. If you’re alone, locate a Cable Pulldown Machine, a couch, or anything a few inches off the ground that can support your ankles. You might also use a towel or something soft to help support your knees.
If none of the gym equipment is accessible, explore around the gym for additional ways to keep your feet secure. The bottom of the weight rack may be the ideal height. Even a water rower bar or the lowest rungs of a Swedish ladder may provide you with the necessary height to secure your ankles.
Step 1: Get Into Starting Position
Initiate the workout on your knees, with a pad or cushion beneath your knees for support, or you could have a workout partner hold your lower legs or ankles in position on the floor.
You may also anchor your lower legs beneath a piece of stationary equipment, like the Smith machine with the barbell set to the lowest setting.
Step 2: Keep Your Ankles Parallel to Your Knees
Your toes and ankles should be parallel to your knees. The shoulders should be directly above your hips, and your neck and head should be stable and relaxed. Keep your chin tucked as if you were cradling an egg beneath your chin throughout the motion.
Step 3: Brace Yourself To Start The Rep
Put your arms at your sides and tighten your hips and shoulders. Your pelvis must be tucked consistently, tighten your glutes and hamstrings, and engage your core. All repetitions should start from this posture.
Step 4: Start Lowering Your Body
Slowly drop yourself to the floor, keeping your knees and head in a straight line. Lower your body as far as you can with your upper legs, then lay your hands in front and catch yourself until you can’t lower yourself slowly with complete control using only your legs. Keep your body straight while dropping toward the floor.
Step 5: Squeeze Your Muscles and Bring Yourself Up
Tighten your hamstrings to drag your body back to the initial posture while keeping your body straight. Use your hands to assist in starting the upward movement if necessary.
At the bottom of the movement, squeeze your glutes and hamstrings while pushing yourself back to the beginning position straight from your head to your knees.
Step 6: Maintain Posture All Throughout and Repeat
Your shoulders should finish completely above your hips at the end of each repetition.
4 Nordic Ham Curl Benefits
1. Improves Performance During Exercises
If you’re an athlete or a runner looking to enhance your sprinting, Nordic hamstring curls can strengthen your knee flexion and hip extension. Strength-training activities such as hip thrusts, deadlifts, and push-ups can benefit from this exercise.
2. Can Decrease Your Risk of Hamstring Injury
This workout helps to avoid a hamstring injury by engaging your knee flexor muscles. Nordic hamstring curls help enhance mobility around your knee joint while lowering hamstring strain with frequent exercise.
This workout is versatile, and you could consider performing a weighted hamstring curl version using a kettlebell or dumbbell, depending on your fitness level. To make the aided Nordic hamstring curl simpler, employ a resistance band.
4. Build Stronger Hamstring Muscles
The Nordic curl is one of the greatest hamstring exercises for increasing muscle growth on the backsides of your legs. The workout engages all three hamstring muscles: the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus.
Common Nordic Ham Curl Mistakes to Avoid
Hyperextending The Back
Many people tend to hyper-extend their back when they ascend upwards after bending downwards to the point where the body is parallel to the ground. A hyper-extended back during the exercise is due to a lack of strength in the hamstrings.
If you experience significant lower back tightness during this exercise, you are most likely hyperextending your back. Don’t be upset! Doing Nordic hamstring curls is a challenging workout. With consistent practice, you’ll be able to master the form in no time.
Rushing The Movement
During the Nordic hams curl, many people just fall to the ground and push themselves back up. While this hamstring exercise is difficult, racing through it will not result in muscular growth in the hamstrings or glutes.
To increase duration under stress during the Nordic hamstring curl, lean forward as gently as possible before falling downhill to have a better hamstring injury prevention.
Bending The Hips Too Much
Many lifters bend their waist forward when they elevate their bodies from a horizontal posture. Bending shifts strain away from the hamstrings.
During the workout, a small bend in the hips is normal. On the other hand, over-bending will hinder you from seeing the most gains in your hamstrings.
Nordic Ham Curl vs Glute Ham Raise
The Nordic hamstring curl is a powerful choice since it mimics glute ham raise without the pieces of equipment and creates significant diversity in your ability to target and build the muscles properly.
The glute ham raise is excellent for general muscular growth and has a high crossover to exercises like the Squat and Deadlift.
This makes it an ideal accessory workout for weight lifters or Olympic lifters trying to enhance their lifts and the average gym-goer looking to strengthen their hamstrings and build a pair of handsome hamstrings.
We have also included an article on Glute Ham Raise Alternatives that can be used to improve hamstring strength and hypertrophy.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs:
For Hamstring Hypertrophy
Do the entire exercise with only your body weight, you could even use resistance bands for an assisted Nordic hamstring curls. The main object is focusing on fighting to finish and seeing how low you can get before collapsing to the ground.
Begin with two sets of three repetitions and gradually increase by one set per week for three weeks. In this scenario, more is not always better; rather, better is superior. Adding several sets and reps isn’t worth the discomfort when compared to executing a flawless 4 sets of 3 reps.
For Strength Training
Increasing your strength is all about doing more reps or carrying more load on your next session, as the sets and repetitions should be chosen based on your ability to maintain proper technique during each set.
Begin with 2–3 sets of 5–10 reps of Nordic hamstring curls. And if it’s too light on the next session, add weights to the nordic curl.
Nordic Ham Curl Variations
As you strengthen your hamstrings, you may discover that the Nordic hamstring curl is no longer as difficult as it previously was. Or perhaps you’re seeking creative methods to spice up this movement to keep it interesting. Fortunately, there are some simple methods to increase the workout’s difficulty.
Nordic Hamstring Curl Machine
A glute-ham developer machine, or GHD, can be found at many gyms. This equipment has footholds and cushioning to assist you in doing workouts such as hyperextensions. It may, however, be utilized for Nordic curls. The gym could have a GHD on the floor as it’s specifically built for this activity, it is also known as a Nordic hamstring curl machine.
Nordic Hamstring Curl On Lat Pulldown
It’s fine if your gym lacks a glute-ham developer or Nordic hamstring curl machine. You could substitute the lat pulldown machine for this hamstring exercise. Kneel on the seat and hook your heels under the thigh pads. Then, execute Nordic hamstring curls off the back of the seat.
It’s relatively simpler to bend at the hips when practicing this variation. This brings your body mass closer to your knees, allowing you to perform repetitions without support. As you advance, you will be able to use less hip extension.
Nordic Hamstring Curl At Home
To set up a Nordic curl, you’ll need a heel anchor and a knee pad. However, you could also utilize basic home objects instead of expensive gym equipment.
Place your feet under a piece of furniture, such as a bed or couch, to perform Nordic hamstring curls at home. Kneel on anything soft, such as a blanket or cushion. A simple resistance band may also be used to do an assisted Nordic hamstring curl.
Nordic Ham Curl Alternatives
Reverse Hack Squat
The Hack Squat is one of the greatest machine-based leg workouts. It’s well-known for its ability to target your quads with a big weight for tremendous strength and muscular growth. Because of the significant hip flexion and large weights, it’s an excellent Nordic hamstring curl alternative.
While the normal deadlift develops the posterior muscles, the Romanian Deadlift isolates the hamstrings and glutes more effectively. The Romanian deadlift has far less knee flexion. Because the quadriceps play a lesser part in the movement, the hamstrings must compensate.
In the same way that Romanian deadlifts, the good morning workout advances the role of the hamstrings. The Romanian deadlift has very little knee flexion, whereas the good morning has no knee flexion. This means that the quadriceps have almost little involvement, leaving the hamstrings and glutes to lift the torso up entirely independently.