Nordic Curl and Back Extension Machine

Strength from Every Angle: Nordic Curl and Back Extension Machine Benefits

Strength from Every Angle: Nordic Curl and Back Extension Machine Benefits

What Is a Nordic Curl?

The Nordic hamstring curl, alternatively referred to as the Nordic ham curl or the reverse leg curl, is a lower-body exercise designed to engage your hamstring muscles using the resistance of your own body weight. To execute Nordic curls, start by kneeling with your ankles securely fastened. Gradually lower your body towards the ground, then stabilize yourself with your hands before engaging your hamstrings to raise your body weight once more.


Benefits of Nordic Curls

Incorporating the Nordic hamstring curl into your strength-training regimen offers a host of advantages:

  • Enhanced Hamstring Strength: Nordic curls are among the most effective exercises for promoting muscle hypertrophy in the posterior thigh region. They engage all three hamstring muscles—the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus.

  • Injury Risk Reduction: Activation of the knee flexor muscles in this exercise supports the prevention of hamstring injuries. Consistent practice can enhance knee joint mobility while minimizing the risk of hamstring strain.

  • Performance Enhancement: If you're an athlete, such as a soccer player or a runner, looking to boost sprinting prowess, incorporating the Nordic hamstring exercise can enhance the hip back extension machine and knee flexion strength. Additionally, hamstring training can elevate your performance in various strength-based exercises like deadlifts, push-ups, and hip thrusts.

  • Versatile Options: Tailor your Nordic hamstring curl routine to your fitness level. You can explore weighted variations using dumbbells or kettlebells for added resistance or opt for an easier version with a resistance band to assist your Nordic hamstring curl.


How to Perform Nordic Curls with Impeccable Technique

To execute Nordic hamstring curls effectively, follow these guidelines, considering your capability to uphold proper form during each set:

  • Begin on your knees, ensuring there's a cushion or padding underneath for knee support. Have a workout partner stabilize your lower legs or ankles on the floor. Alternatively, you can secure your lower legs beneath an immovable piece of equipment, such as a Smith machine, with the barbell set at its lowest height.

  • Align your feet and ankles with your knees. Your shoulders should be directly above your hips, maintaining a neutral head and neck position. Keep your chin tucked throughout the exercise, as if you were delicately holding an egg beneath it.

  • Position your arms alongside your body and preload your shoulders and hips. Slightly tuck your pelvis. Engage your core and contract your glutes and hamstrings. All repetitions should commence from this initial stance.

  • Gradually lower yourself toward the floor while preserving a straight line from your knees to your head. Descend as far as you can using only your upper legs. When you can no longer descend in a controlled manner solely with your legs, place your hands in front of your body to catch yourself. Your body should maintain its straight alignment from head to knees throughout the descent.

  • While upholding your alignment, contract your hamstrings to pull your body back extension machine to the starting position. If necessary, employ your hands to initiate the upward movement. Continue to engage your glutes and hamstrings as you complete the motion, sustaining the straight line from your head to your knees while returning to the initial stance.

  • At the conclusion of each repetition, ensure your shoulders finish directly over your hips.


Nordic Hamstring Curl: Alternatives

• Assisted Nordic Hamstring Curl

In the assisted variant of the Nordic hamstring curl, you secure one end of a resistance band to a stable anchor point positioned several feet above your head, such as a chin-up bar. The other end of the band attaches to your chest. This setup provides partial support, effectively reducing the load on your body during the exercise and making it more manageable.

The advantage of the assisted Nordic hamstring curl lies in its capacity to enable hamstring training with a movement pattern akin to the traditional Nordic curl. This is particularly valuable for individuals who haven't yet developed the strength required to perform unassisted Nordic curls. It serves as a stepping stone towards mastering the exercise.


• Razor Curl

The razor curl is a bodyweight exercise designed to target the hamstrings and glutes, much like the Nordic curl. However, it necessitates the use of a specialized piece of equipment known as a glute ham developer (GHD). Regrettably, GHDs are not commonly found in commercial gyms, making this exercise less accessible.


• Seated Leg Curl

The seated leg curl exercise is highly effective for strengthening the hamstrings, with a specific emphasis on the biceps femoris and semitendinosus muscles. Additionally, it involves the use of a dedicated machine, which simplifies the learning curve and execution compared to the Nordic hamstring curl. As a result, it's an excellent choice for newcomers to weightlifting who may not yet possess the requisite strength to perform the Nordic curl.



The Nordic hamstring curl is a valuable lower body exercise that targets the hamstring muscles, offering benefits such as enhanced strength, reduced risk of injuries, and improved athletic performance. To perform it with proper technique, follow the guidelines mentioned, and consider alternative versions like the assisted Nordic curl, razor curl, or seated leg curl based on your fitness level and equipment availability. Incorporating this exercise into your routine can contribute to a well-rounded lower body workout and overall fitness.