What are Nordic Curls

Nordic Curls, also known as the Nordic Hamstring Curl or Russian Curls, are an excellent strength-training exercise which target the hamstrings at the back of the legs, and focus on eccentric loading of the muscle…

The exercise involves lowering your body from a kneeling position while keeping your ankles securely in place, using your hamstrings to control and slow the movement down; and for advanced lifters to then use your hamstrings to pull your body back up to the starting position.

What are the benefits of Nordic Curls

Nordics Curls are commonly prescribed in training for injury-prevention as they help to condition the hamstring muscles to resist greater force and build improved knee stability, since the hamstrings play an important role in stabilising the knee joint. They also work to improve flexibility, by lengthening the muscle under load, which can lead to better posture and a reduced risk of lower back pain. Furthermore, Nordic Curls are highly effective for muscle hypertrophy and since they build strength in the lengthened position, they are a useful exercise for runners or sports-players.

 How to perform Nordic Curls

To set up for the exercise the ankles must be anchored securely. This can be done in several ways such as being held down by a partner or being wedged under something such as a weighted bar or the knee pad on a Lat Pulldown Machine. At The Fitting Rooms, we like to wedge our ankles under the dumbbell rack with a pad under our knees for comfort.

To perform:
– Start by kneeling on the with the body upright, ankles secured, and the toes pulled in slightly;

– Engage your core and glutes and try to maintain a neutral spine*;

– Lower your body towards the floor, using your hamstrings to slow the movement down as much as possible – a mind-muscle connection is really important here so really try and concentrate on what you’re feeling in the hamstrings;

– As you reach the floor, put your hands out in front to help catch yourself and push back to the start position, using the hamstrings to assist as much as you can. At this point, advanced lifters can use their hamstrings to pull their body back upright without using any momentum from a push, but this requires a great deal of strength so the majority of lifters should simply focus on the eccentric (lowering) part of the movement.

*Ideally your hips will be in a neutral position throughout the movement, as too much hinging will remove load from the hamstrings, but you can use more or less of hinge to regress or progress the movement.

How to include Nordic Curls in your training

As a knee-flexion movement, Nordic Curls train the fast-twitch muscles in the hamstrings, so we recommend working between 4-8 reps for 3-5 sets, to get the most out of the exercise. Include them early on in your Leg Day or Posterior Chain Day workout, such as the A or B series, to ensure your hamstrings are not too fatigued when performing this exercise.

I’s important to note that Nordic Curls are an advanced exercise, and we recommend building up a decent base level of hamstring strength with exercises such as the Hamstring Curl first, before moving on to them. You can learn more about hamstring training here.