What Is A Nordic Hamstring Curl Machine?

Recently, we have come up with quite a few in-depth articles on exercises that can help you get stronger, more defined leg muscles. We have written about how sissy squats can help you isolate, target, and build the quadricep muscles. We have also suggested 5 different leg press foot positions that can help you strengthen the glutes, the abductors, the inner and outer thigh muscles, and the quads. Box squats are great for busting fitness plateau and strengthening the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. 

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In this article, we will be talking about Nordic hamstring curl, one of the most effective hamstrings strengthening exercises. We will be talking about the benefits, the risks, and the nordic hamstring curl machines that you can use to avoid injuries. 

Let's get started! 

What is a Nordic hamstring curl? 

The above video should give you an idea of what this hamstring strengthening exercise is all about. 

Basically, it is an inverse leg curl exercise that involves the use of your bodyweight for activating and strengthening the hamstring muscles (and the glutes to some extent). 

To practice nordic curls, you need to kneel down and secure your ankles under a heavily weighted barbell, or something strong and sturdy that won’t slip or skid when you exercise. You can even use a specific nordic hamstring curl machine or you may ask someone to hold your ankles. Once your ankles are secured, you need to slowly lower your body as much as you can and then use your hands to push yourself up to the starting position. 

You can do nordic hamstring curls with just bodyweight or maybe you can use hex dumbbells to intensify your workouts. But, believe us, the bodyweight one is quite challenging even for a pro athlete. 

Do you need a Nordic hamstring curl machine? 

To be honest, you don’t actually need a dedicated nordic hamstring curl machine. Any product that lets you anchor your ankles to the floor so you can bend forward can be used for doing inverse leg curls. 

You can secure your ankles under a weighted barbell, provided you have locked it in place using a jack or something that prevents the barbell from rolling. You can use household furniture such as a sofa but we do not recommend that because modern furniture isn't heavy enough to bear the upward pressure you will apply. 

If you have a smith machine, you can lower the barbell all the way down, secure it and that should work. LAT machines and adjustable benches can also be used. See the image below. 

Nordic hamstring curl

Image Source: Nick Hall Body Transformation

Basically, anything around you that helps keep your ankles secure to the floor without even the slightest imbalance is good enough. 

But, if you are interested in buying a specific nordic hamstring curl machine, Rogue Floor Glute is a good option to consider. It is exclusively meant for GHR exercises, so if you want to build stronger glutes and hamstrings, you may go for it but most of our teammates wouldn’t want to have it in our home gyms. It is too expensive plus we aren’t bodybuilders or athletes who must have well-defined leg muscles. 

Instead of a nordic hamstring curl machine, we would rather be interested in a Nordstick hamstring curl strap that is pretty inexpensive and can be hooked to a door. See the image below. 

Nordic hamstring curl machine

Image source: Amazon

If you are just getting started and do not have enough balance or strength, you can use resistance bands to help you do the curls in a controlled way. 

Benefits of Nordic hamstring curls

As we stated at the beginning of the article, Nordic hamstring curls are highly recommended for building and strengthening your hamstring muscles. 

Doesn't sound quite interesting and appealing, right? 

Well, that's because most of us don’t really know why it is important to build stronger hamstrings other than to make your legs look enviable. Here is what will happen if you start doing nordic curls regularly.

Nordic hamstring curls help prevent injuries

The hamstring is a large muscle group of the leg. Yet, it is one of the most ignored muscles of the body. This is the reason why it is highly prone to injuries such as pulls and strains. Not just recreational trainers like you and us, even athletes suffer from hamstring-related injuries, which could take weeks to recover. Plus, some hamstring injuries can significantly affect the way you walk. 

If you don’t want to miss your workouts every other day due to hamstring injuries, you should work on them at least twice a week. 

Nordic hamstring curls can help you train better 

Inverse hamstring curls are a type of eccentric contraction exercise where the muscle lengthens with a load or pressure. Concentric contraction is a type of exercise in which a muscle shortens with a load or pressure. 

For example; in a deadlift, the upward movement is concentric and the downward movement is eccentric. 

Both are highly effective for strengthening the muscles but, as obvious, eccentric contractions are far more difficult and therefore, far more rewarding. 

What we want to say is nordic hamstring curls are one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your major leg muscles. The stronger your leg muscles are, the more reps you will be able to do and the more weight you will be able to lift. If you are a runner, you will be able to run longer distances. 

Nordic hamstring curl alternatives

If you are a total beginner or if you are suffering from knee injuries, the inverse hamstring curl may not be suitable for you. You may lose your balance and smash your face on the floor. You may bend down too quickly, which could cause hamstring ruptures. Or you may bend your hip instead of using the hamstring muscles to control your movement, which defeats the purpose of this exercise. 

Inverse curl is a challenging exercise. And, even if you use a dedicated nordic hamstring curl machine, you will still find it difficult to balance yourself while bending forward. So, go slow and try bending forward by just a few inches every day until you gain enough balance and strength to do the full curl. 

If you believe nordic hamstring curls are not your thing, these are some of the alternatives that we would like to suggest 

Single leg bridge 

Single leg glute bridge

The standard glute bridges are effective too but single leg bridges are far more challenging and effective. You can do them with or without weights, as per your stamina. 

Hip Thrust 

Hip Thrust

It is very similar to the glute bridges, except that you have to place your upper body on a raised surface. You can do hip thrust with or without weight. Plus, you can do it with both legs or just one. It is one of the easiest hamstring strengthening exercises for beginners and people recovering from injuries. 

Stability ball hamstring curls 

stability ball curls

This is another challenging hamstring and glute workouts we recommend for people looking for nordic hamstring curl alternatives. Although it is meant for hamstrings, the stability ball curls engage all major muscle groups of the body and require a lot of balance and coordination. 

Leg curls

Leg curls

If you have a Nordic hamstring curl machine, you can use it for leg curls too. Or else you can do it on the LAT machine. If you have nothing, you can do leg curls while lying on the floor and adding a dumbbell between your ankles. All you need to do is to use your hamstrings to lift weight. 

Deadlifts 

Deadlift as an alternative to nordic hamstring curl

Deadlift is the king of all exercises. It helps target almost all muscles of the posterior chain including the hamstrings and glutes. Deadlifts can be as simple or as complex as you want. Just keep adding weights to make them more and more challenging. Or you can keep it simple by using just dumbbells. You can even do single leg deadlifts to challenge yourself. 

Wrap up 

We hope this article helps you understand what is a nordic hamstring curl machine and if you need it to strengthen your hamstrings. 

As we said above, nordic curls are challenging and require a lot of practice and patience. Go slow and do it at your own pace. Do not get over-influenced by your gym friend/partner who can do multiple sets together or else your muscles could tear. Don’t become a victim of the toxic gym culture. Do only those exercises that you are able to do comfortably. 

Want to build overall strength and stamina? Try exercises that help you gain farmer’s strength.  

Have queries? Get in touch with us.