5 Steps for Nordic Curl Progression: A Guide to Building Strong Hamstrings

Nordic Hamstring Exercise Nordic Curl

5 Steps for Nordic Curl Progression: A Guide to Building Strong Hamstrings

The Nordic curl is a simple but effective exercise for strengthening your hamstrings. This exercise involves kneeling on the ground with your hands to the side or crossed in front, then lowering your torso towards the ground as far as you can.

In this eccentric phase (lowering down) of the exercise, the hamstring muscles are being stretched and lengthened whilst building strength.

Many people focus on eccentrics only, using their hands to guide them back to the upright position before lowering again.

It is possible, however, to fully contract your hamstring muscles and use them to pull yourself back up to the starting position.

There are many benefits to incorporating the Nordic Curl into your workout routine. This exercise specifically targets your hamstrings, which are often overlooked in traditional leg exercises like squats and can be difficult to train at home without cable machines.

Strong hamstrings can improve your athletic performance, reduce your risk of injury, and help you maintain good posture.

Like any exercise, it's important to progress slowly and safely to avoid injury. Here's a complete guide to progressing your Nordic curl exercises:

Distance Regression

One of the best ways to begin Nordic Curls is by using something to limit the distance traveled whilst performing the exercise.

There are a couple of options for this. First, attach your Nordic Bar at the desired height to complete this exercise, either off the ground or from a bench.

1. If performing Nordic Curls from the ground, place a box or bench in front of you to catch you mid range. This will allow you to perform the exercise in a shorter, easier range, allowing you to build strength and scale gradually.

2. Where possible, use an incline bench to limit the distance traveled while performing your reps. Start by folding the bench all the way up and kneeling on the seat, with your chest facing the back rest. 

Perform short range Nordic Curls, allowing your chest to hit the back rest and then pushing back while engaging your hamstrings.

This will allow you to build strength in an easy, controlled movement. As you get stronger, begin lowering the back rest down, making it more parallel. This will increase the difficulty. 

Resistance Regression

Another great option for starting out with Nordic Curls is to have something assist your movement, and essentially take some of the weight off your hamstrings.

This can be done in a couple of different ways.

1. Resistance band. 
By attaching a resistance band to the post and to your chest, the rate at which you fall will be assisted by the band, and make it much easier for you to control.

2. Ancore Pro Cable System
A similar concept to the resistance band, however much easier to set up and scale. Because the Ancore system is adjustable in resistance, it makes it much easier to scale this exercise effectively. 

Full Nordic curl:

Start by kneeling on the ground or bench with your hands to the side or crossed in front. Lower your torso towards the ground as far as you can, and then use your  hands and/or hamstrings to raise your body back up to the starting position. Repeat for as many reps as possible to begin with, aiming for 6-8 reps.

Nordic curl with weight:

Once you've mastered the kneeling Nordic curl, you can add weight to increase the difficulty. Hug a weight plate or a dumbbell to your chest to add resistance.

Alternatively, you can perform Nordic Deadlifts, which are as crazy as they sound, so be careful with these!

Remember, when progressing with the Nordic Curl, it's important to start slowly and focus on form. Don't try to add weight or increase the difficulty too quickly, as this could lead to injury. Instead, focus on using proper form and gradually building strength and endurance over time.


The Nordic Curl has been shown to reduce hamstring injury by up to 51% as published here.

In conclusion, the Nordic Curl is a great exercise for strengthening your hamstrings. By following this progression guide, you can safely and effectively build strong, healthy hamstrings, and improve your overall athletic performance.

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