Nordic Curls + 5 Exercises for Hamstring Strength – Garage Strength

Nordic Curls + 5 Exercises for Hamstring Strength

Are you ignoring one of the best, if not the best exercises for your hamstrings? Among all the exercises targeting these powerhouse muscles, the nordic hamstring curl shines prominently, offering a challenging exercise that doesn’t involve any weight.

You might actually need a band to help you do more than a few.

In this article, we bring the focus on nordic curls, explaining their execution and exploring their profound benefits. We’ll touch on how nordic hamstring curls can bolster hamstring durability and enhance the overall functionality of the posterior chain - a key factor in athletic performance across a multitude of sports.

Whether you're an athlete looking to improve your sprinting ability, trying to prevent a hamstring strain, or a fitness enthusiast looking to better understand and implement hamstring workouts, nordic curls will sure to make a statement.


What are Nordic Curls?

In the realm of strength training, the nordic hamstring curl is an exceptional exercise, targeting the hamstring muscles, specifically the biceps femoris, with the power of one's body weight.

Consider it as an inverse leg curl.

This movement, often performed with the aid of a pad or a partner holding your ankles, offers an intense workout for the posterior chain and core.

How to Do Nordic Curls

To execute a nordic hamstring curl effectively, begin by kneeling on both knees, facing forward. Regardless of if you are using foam pad or on the floor, you need to bend at the knee joint.

Maintain a rigid torso and back, while keeping your hands at your sides. The goal is to control your body's descent, as if entering into a bow, until your chest gently touches the ground or the pad beneath you. This descent recruits key muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, inviting them into a symphony of strength.

When your chest meets the floor, that’s when you curl and the contraction begins.

With a focus on the hamstrings, activate your posterior chain to rise back to the starting position. In essence, you're performing a hamstring curl, but instead of using a weight machine, you're leveraging the weight of your body.

Nordic hamstring curls not only strengthen the hamstrings, but also bolster the overall health and functionality of your posterior chain. When performed correctly, this exercise can significantly enhance athletic performance and injury resilience, making it a worthy addition to any strength and conditioning routine.

Why Athletes Should Do the Nordic Hamstring Curl

For athletes striving for peak performance, nordic curls are an exercise that can increase verticals, improve acceleration, and overall power in the lower body. They are one of the key exercises we use for athletes across almost every sport to help improve the performance of the lower body.

In sports like football and track, where explosive speed and power are critical,the nordic hamstring curl works wonders. The exercise helps increase the rapid force production capability of the hamstrings, crucial for swift acceleration and deceleration.

For basketball players, these curls are particularly useful. They enhance jumping power, benefiting both defensive blocking and offensive shooting. A powerful posterior chain can even help you dunk if that is something you're striving for.

In essence, nordic hamstring curls are an investment in your performance longevity. By fortifying the hamstrings and the posterior chain, you're building a robust defense against common sports injuries, like hamstring strains. Even more, they also help bring tension off your knee flexor muscles.

Incorporating the nordic hamstring curl into your routine is not merely a boost to your present athletic prowess—it's a strategic step towards a more durable, resilient, and high-performing athletic future.

More Great Hamstring Exercises

Good Mornings

Aside from a nordic hamstring curl, another exercise integral to developing strong and resilient hamstrings is the good morning. Just like a nordic hamstring curl, good mornings specifically target the posterior chain, which makes them great for speed development.

When performing a good morning, we recommend an athlete to choose between using a barbell or powerlastic bands, each with its unique benefits.

Barbell good mornings allow for substantial weight loading, encouraging the development of hamstring muscle mass and overall strength. The load forces your hamstrings to work hard, stimulating growth and power.

On the other hand, banded good mornings offer a different, yet equally valuable, avenue for development. The resistance from the band assists in fostering explosive power and speed.

With a powerlastic band, the tension increases as you ascend from the hinge, requiring your hamstrings to explosively contract to complete the movement. This action trains your muscles to react quickly and forcefully, a valuable asset in many sports situations.

Good mornings, whether weighted with a barbell or performed with powerlastic bands, are an effective way to enhance hamstring strength, power, and speed.

Single Leg Squat

Another Garage Strength favorite deserving attention is the single leg squat. While primarily recognized as a quad-dominant movement, its role in hamstring development is also significant and not to be overlooked. Especially if you have access to a single leg roller.

Single leg squats offer a unique blend of strength training, balance, and coordination. When an athlete descends into the squat, the hamstrings are actively engaged, co-working with the glutes and quads to control the downward motion. At the squat's bottom, the hamstrings play a vital role in pushing off and driving the body back upward.

Moreover, the completion of the lift relies on the hamstrings to stabilize the body and control the upward movement. This action encourages enhanced muscle fiber recruitment, contributing to both muscle growth and overall hamstring resilience.

For athletes, incorporating single leg squats into a workout regimen contributes to improved balance, increased unilateral strength, and bolstered lower body power. In addition, with its focus on functional movements, it can translate directly into better sports performance.

Sliding Hamstring Curls

The next leg exercise on the list is the sliding hamstring curl. This exercise is a fantastic tool for athletes aiming to enhance hamstring strength and control, using their own body weight as the primary resistance factor.

Initiating the sliding hamstring curl, athletes lie flat on their back with heels positioned close to the butt. Employing a set of floor sliders or a similar surface that facilitates smooth movement, the athletes lift their hips off the ground, similar to performing a hip extension.

Concurrently, they straighten their legs, pushing the heels outward and engaging the hamstrings during the motion.

Once the legs are fully extended, athletes must contract their hamstrings to pull the heels back towards them all while maintaining lifted hips. This action demands intense focus and body awareness, as dropping the hips will reduce the isolation of the hamstrings and diminish the exercise's effectiveness.

This engagement and strengthening of the hamstrings can lead to enhanced athletic performance, better running mechanics, and a lower risk of injury from a hamstring strain.

Razor Curl

Last on our list of hamstring exercises, let's bring back razor curls, a great movement that intensifies the focus on the contraction of the biceps femoris.

To be clear, this is not the same as a nordic ham curl.

Razor curls resemble the original nordic hamstring exercise, but introduce a variation in the starting position and execution. With the hips hinged forward, the athlete begins with the body in a horizontal line rather than a vertical one, recruiting a more focused engagement of the hamstrings.

The exercise unfolds as the athlete extends the body forward in a controlled horizontal motion, reaching a point where the body is almost parallel to the ground. It is at this point that the hamstrings get a call to action, pulling the body back to the starting position.

This movement requires an intense, isolated contraction of the hamstrings, providing a fantastic stimulus for strength and muscle development.

Razor curls are an excellent exercise for athletes seeking a more targeted approach to hamstring strengthening while preventing hamstring injuries.

Build Stronger Hamstring Muscles

There are dozen of loaded and unloaded exercises that you can use to strengthen your hamstrings. We just find nordic hamstring curls to be one of the best accessories for developing the performance of your posterior chain. For more exercises to incorporate into your workouts, check out the Peak Strength app for programming specific to your goals and hundreds of exercises to add into your training.

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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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