3 Nordic Hamstring Curl Exercises to Boost Your Performance

This exercise can strengthen weakened posterior muscles and potentially prevent debilitating hamstring injuries.

If you're looking to rehab an injured hamstring, or just want to perform better, Nordic Hamstring Curl exercises can be a good addition to your workout regimen. This exercise can strengthen weakened posterior muscles and potentially prevent debilitating hamstring injuries.

The exercise is simple.

Kneel on the ground—it's best if it's padded (some people prefer an Airex pad or additional support for the knees)—secure your feet and lower your torso to the ground as slowly as possible. Your hamstrings might feel like they want to pop out of the backs of your legs. When your hamstrings can no longer support your weight and you find yourself falling to the ground, catch yourself in a push-up position. Over time, you might actually be able to control the entire descent. That's the sing (not to say the "sting") of strong hamstrings.

Training your hamstrings in this manner—eccentrically—will help them absorb force when you decelerate from a sprint or land from a jump, two common causes of injury. Plus, having strong hamstrings will actually improve your speed, agility and strength on the field.

Due to the high amount of stress in the negative portion of the exercise, you should begin with low repetitions. I suggest that our athletes at Show Up Fitness begin with one set of 2-4 repetitions on day one.

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Let your body adapt to the new exercise for 24 hours. On day three, if you're not too sore, try 2-3 sets of 2-4 reps. Once you understand how your body is adapting to the exercise, work your way up to 5 sets of 6-10 reps, resting 1-2 minutes between sets.

Here are three variations of the Nordic Hamstring Curl. Check out the video player above for a demonstration of each.

Partner-Assisted Nordic Hamstring Curls

  • Have a trainer or partner hold your ankles while you brace your core. I suggest tapping your core to make sure it's maximally engaged before you start to lower your torso.
  • Take a deep breath, and as slowly as possible, lower yourself to the ground. Your body should be straight and tight during the descent.
  • Avoid flexing your spine.
  • Once you reach the ground, press yourself up to the starting position and repeat

Low Bar Nordic Hamstring Curls

  • Locate a low bar, railing or some sort of weight apparatus that can serve as an anchor to replace the hands of a partner.
  • Place your ankles under the railing and brace your core.
  • Slowly lower to the ground.
  • Press yourself to the starting position and repeat.

Barbell Nordic Hamstring Curls

  • If you cannot locate an apparatus to anchor your ankles and don't have a partner, you can use a barbell as a last resort.
  • Place weights (I suggest 35 pounds) on each side of the barbell to allow for optimal height to slide your ankles under the bar.
  • Put smaller weights (2.5 or 5 pounds) under the plates to restrict rolling and unwanted movement.
  • Place a towel under the bar for comfort. Brace your core and slowly lower your body all the way down.
  • Press yourself to the starting position and repeat.

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