Get hamstrings of steel with the Nordic Curl

The Nordic curl, also known as the hamstring curl and reverse leg curl, is a lower-body exercise that uses your body weight to activate your hamstring muscles. It’s considered a complementary exercise on leg day, but it has numerous benefits.

It is recommended to do this hamstring exercise starting in a kneeling position with your ankles locked. With care, we will lower the body to the ground. Without a doubt, it is a movement that we should include in the lower body routines.

How is it done?

For the Nordic curl, we will start by performing two or three sets of 5 to 10 repetitions. We will choose the series and repetitions based on the ability to maintain a good technique in each series.

  1. We’ll start on our knees with a pad or cushion underneath to support our knees and have an exercise partner hold our lower legs or ankles on the floor. We can also anchor the lower legs under stationary equipment such as a Smith machine with the bar set at the lowest height.
  2. The feet and ankles should be in line with the knees. Shoulders should be directly over hips with a neutral head and neck position. The chin should remain tucked in throughout the movement, as if we were holding an egg under the chin.
  3. We will place our arms at our sides and tense our shoulders and hips. The pelvis should be slightly tucked in. We will tighten the core and the glutes and hamstrings. All reps should start from this starting position.
  4. We will slowly lower towards the ground while maintaining a straight line from the knees to the head. We’ll go as low as we can using just our upper legs, then place our hands in front of our body and use our hands to hold when we can no longer go down in a controlled manner using just our legs. The body should maintain a straight line from the head to the knees as we lower towards the ground.
  5. While maintaining alignment, we will squeeze the hamstrings to bring the body back to the starting position. If necessary, we will use our hands to help initiate the upward movement. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to finish the movement, keeping a straight line from your head to your knees as you return to the starting position.
  6. At the end of each rep, your shoulders should end directly over your hips.

muscles worked

Primarily, the Nordic curl tightens and tones the hamstrings . But the great thing about this move is that it works the hamstrings deep into the muscle tissue for maximum power and strength.

The hamstring is actually made up of three muscles. These work together to support leg movement and stabilize joints. The Nordic curl targets all of these hamstrings, collectively strengthening the entire muscle group.

Then there are the other muscles that are worked as a result of this movement. The inner thigh, or sartorius , can also benefit big time from Nordic curls. It can also be felt in the buttocks as the body weight moves toward the ground.

The upper body may even see some benefit from this exercise. The biceps and triceps will get stronger as they stabilize their weight and push the weight off the ground. You’ll also feel the burn in your pectorals and delts as your chest and shoulder muscles are activated. Overall, this is a great exercise for multiple major muscle groups.


The Nordic hamstring curl has many benefits beyond simply strengthening and developing the hamstrings. By improving the hamstrings, we will also obtain the following results.

Fewer injuries

Hamstring pulls and strains are some of the most common injuries among professional athletes and gym novices alike. Because this major muscle is so large and powerful, it is prone to debilitating injuries.

The Nordic curl helps protect the hamstrings by strengthening and lengthening them. That way we can better prevent injuries. This exercise builds strength and muscle in the hamstrings in a unique way. The movement causes an eccentric contraction in the hamstring muscle. As it extends forward, the hamstring is forced to lengthen to carry the load.

larger hamstrings

This exercise is all about eccentric contraction. Eccentric contraction leads to longer and stronger leg muscles. When eccentric exercises are compared to concentric exercises, eccentrics alone are far superior for hypertrophy. This means that we can strengthen the hamstrings to make them more stable and powerful.

Eccentric contraction is when the muscle lengthens under a load, concentric is when it shortens (ie the downward motion of a stiff-legged deadlift is eccentric and the upward motion is concentric).

Being strong during the eccentric phase of a hamstring movement is a very important aspect for athletes, as the hamstrings are one of the most important muscles for explosiveness (i.e. running and jumping). This is why Nordic hamstring curls are ideal for all professional athletes, you get protection and power all in one.

stabilizes the knees

Strong legs create the foundation for stabilized knee joints. When we tone all the muscle groups in the legs, we create better balance and smoother movement. Therefore, with the Nordic curl, we will reduce the possibility of persistent knee pain and even major injury.

Also, many of the most popular leg exercises target the quads, so it’s very important to have balanced leg strength by properly targeting the hamstrings. Nordic hamstring curls also allow us to develop incredible strength in the back of the leg.

Tone up the butt

There are also some aesthetic benefits. The secret to getting that lifted butt we’re looking for might be a little lower down in the hamstrings.

By strengthening the hamstrings, we give the glutes a solid foundation, lifting the butt while strengthening the back of the upper thighs. Adding moves like Nordic hamstring curls and deadlifts to leg workouts will give the back of your legs the strength and definition we’ve been looking for.

curl nordico de isquiotibiales

How to do it without partner?

We don’t need a partner or fancy gym equipment to secure our feet. In fact, simple material or things from home imply that we can do it without going to the gym.

  1. A barbell with weights . We’ll load a classic barbell with weights and kneel in front of it, sliding our legs under to hold them. Depending on the floor, we may need to place additional plates or dumbbells on the side of the weights to prevent slipping or rolling.
  2. Smith machine . If we are in the gym, the smith machine is a great option. We’ll lower the bar all the way down and should be able to lock our feet into position with ease. We will use a pad on the bar so that the ankles/Achilles are comfortable against the bar.
  3. Other gym equipment . We will look at the gym for other options to secure the feet. The bottom of the weight rack may be the correct height. Even the water paddle bar or the lowest rungs on the Swedish ladder can give you the perfect height you need.
  4. Pull machine . This popular piece of gym equipment is an ideal way to secure your ankles during this workout. We will adjust the thigh pads so that your lower legs can slide safely under them while you kneel on the seat. We will play with the position of the legs under the pads. Some people prefer the ankles for support, while others like pads placed higher on the calves.