If you’ve never done Nordic curls before, you likely have a long road ahead of you to perfect the movement. It took Ben Patrick Knees Over Toes a solid two years of working at the hamstring exercise to go from Nordic novice to the elite level.
But everyone knows this movement is about as powerful as it gets when it comes to developing lower body explosiveness using just body weight, so it’s well worth taking the time to work on however be careful because overtraining can cause common hamstring injuries and its very easy to avoid this.
In this article we’re going to take a look at exactly why the Nordic hamstring curl is so difficult to make progress in, and then I’ll reveal the quickest and simplest way to go from complete beginner to full concentric Nordics in the shortest amount of time possible. Let’s begin!
How Hard Is It To Do A Nordic Curl? Nordics are tough… really tough. Most athletes tend not to focus much on their hamstrings muscles as we’re all far more concerned about getting strong quads and glutes (triple extensor muscles) which have a more obvious carryover to athletic performance. As a result, even extremely strong athletes will likely fall flat on their face when attempting a Nordic for the first time. The key is to take baby steps and continue working at it for weeks if not months. By reducing the range of motion (angle at knee joint) to a regression you can handle, and working in that range, you’ll eventually develop the strength needed to nail the full Nordic.
Why Nordics Have Been A Nightmare To Regress and why assisting your nordic hamstring curl is a game changer
Not only are Nordics brutally difficult from a physiological perspective, but they’re a (literal) pain in the ass to get set up and going with… If you wanted to work your way up via regressions, historically you’d need a bunch of equipment:
Resistance band – Multiple bands with multiple different strengths was ideal
Workout pad – Some sort of padding for your knees which would end up being super uncomfortable on most surfaces. You’d definitely need something thicker than a yoga mat as well.
Stack of boxes or weight plates – To act as a chest support.
As much padding as you could get your hands on – This would be used to stack up high off the ground while doing your early regressions, also for torso support.
Some sort of bar to lock your ankles down.
A partner – Not entirely necessary, but would be a huge help.
This would practically turn your workouts into a scavenger hunt and it’s no wonder most people would decide to throw Nordics into the ‘too hard basket’ after just a couple weeks of regression work.
Here are some examples of the creative setups those few who persisted came up with... One guy has nailed a 2x4 to his porch and attached a pool noodle to it to act as an ankle pad... He’s using a $20 exercise pad for his knees. He’s got 3 different strength resistance bands with him and a very patient partner.
Another guy loaded up a barbell with over 200lbs on it to act as bar that he can lock his feet under. He’s had to wedge the bar between his squat rack and some plates on the ground to ensure it doesn’t roll forward when he does his Nordics. He’s also using an exercise pad for his knees as well as a barbell pad for his ankles. He’s got a second barbell in the squat rack behind him loaded with 130lbs attached to which is a resistance band to help lower him to the floor.
Quality Gear Was Either Expensive Or Not User Friendly
As far as Nordic curl equipment went, there wasn’t much that was going to help you all that much…
Nordic Straps – No Help For Regressions & Time Consuming To Use
You could buy a Nordic strap which would secure your ankles to any weight bench, effectively turning it into a Nordic bench.
While this is a decent solution for advanced athletes who can already do full Nordics, it didn’t really make life any easier for all the athletes still working through regressions… You’d still have to find something for chest support (and now you’ve got the challenge of stacking something on a bench instead of the floor). You’d still have to find some way to assist yourself to the floor (resistance band attached to something). And now you’ve got the added problem of having to strap yourself to the bench each set – it’s really quite difficult and time consuming. If you wanted to stand up in between sets to get some blood flowing and active recovery going (which you should, to prevent cramping), you’d have to unstrap yourself and you’d end up spending way too much time fiddling around with the strap in between sets.
Nordic Bench – Expensive & No Help For Regressions
You could buy a proper Nordic bench, but at the time the cheapest option was Rogue’s $600 floor glute ham bench.
They work great but again, you still have to load them up with boxes or padding for it to be of any use to you when you’re still progressing through the ranks.
Here is Ben Patrick in a lengthened position during the nordic curl
Not only that, but $600 is no small fee to fork out for a piece of gym equipment that does one thing.
Enter The Nordic Back Extension Machine - Quite literally the best 2 in 1 Nordic / Back Extension machine on the market for the money! Coming in at $499 which is less than Rogues Nordic Bench and offers so much more so you can get your first Nordic Curl.
The Nordic Back Extension Machine is the first of its kind to allow the user to fully regress the Nordic Curl in a full range of motion without having to keep your knees bent with many other products on the market.
Industry first Nordic Bench with 9 levels of regression making it perfect for beginners & pros by being able to scale your training depending on your strength.
Here are some important details about the product.
- Full-Size Nordic Floor Bench with 9 Levels of Regression between 0°-45°
- Adjustable Back Extension Machine between 37°-45°
- Easily Converts To Compact Nordic Bench
- Heavy Duty Steel Construction w/ Premium Materials
- Rated For 550lbs
- Height Range From 5' To 6'8"
- Built For Beginners & Pros
Also did we forget its a back extension machine allowing you to perform back extensions!
This is an incredible offer that simply doesn't exist on the market.
Here are some reasons why training Nordic curls and back extensions are important.
- Traditional Nordic Curl Floor Benches are challenging to use as a beginner because of the inability to regress during the exercise. Our Nordic Back Extension Machine has solved this issue by allowing new users to highly trained athletes to perform Nordic Curls with perfect form by building strength at each of the nine levels of regression.
- Back Extensions ( Hyperextension Machines) are very limited in terms of the exercises that can be performed with them. The Nordic Back Extension Machine is a multi-functional piece of equipment that allows for maximum functionality.
- Similar quality Nordic Benches cost $500-800 (without the ability to regress like ours offers) & similar quality Back Extensions costs $250+ with The Nordic Back Extension you get both plus awesome added features to help elevate your training.
- Back Extensions improve the stability and muscle strength of your lower back. They also can have a rehabilitative effect on people with poor lumbar or thoracic back posture.
- Nordic Benches help reduce the risk of knee & hamstring injuries and improve athletic ability by performing Nordic Curls.
If you're looking for another great option check out The Nordic Weight Bench!
Here is another simple, elegant, and affordable solution to the Nordic curl regression conundrum... Enter… The TBG Nordic Weight Bench.
Another Great Choice Nordic Weight Bench!!! How To Easily Regress Your Nordic Curl
The Nordic weight bench is a first-of-its-kind adjustable gym bench designed with Nordic curl regressions in mind. Whether you’re a complete beginner having never attempted a Nordic before, or are an intermediate making solid progress towards that full Nordic, the Nordic weight bench is the easiest way to regress to whatever level you’re at.
Gone are the days of needing to build towers of foam padding to support your chest... Gone are the days of begging your gym bros to hold your ankles down while you did 15 sets of partial Nordics… The concept of this bench really speaks for itself. You don’t need me to tell you how much time and effort this piece of equipment will save you when working on Nordic regressions. Heck you might even come to enjoy Nordics!
But wait… there’s more!
More Than Just A Nordic Bench
The Nordic weight bench is obviously ideal for Nordics, but you can use it for so much more. To the knees over toes champions out there, the Nordic weight bench is the perfect bit of kit for trap 3 raises, which are Ben Patrick’s inner middle back exercise of choice.
It can even just be used as a fully functional gym bench, perfect for shoulder press, bench press, and bent over rows.
How about price?
The Most Affordable Nordic Bench Ever
Remember how I said the Rogue Nordic bench is $600? You probably wouldn’t believe me if I said that was the cheapest Nordic bench on the market until the NWB came along… Most Nordic benches cost over $900, with some fetching north of $1,500... The Tib Bar Guy Nordic weight bench? Just $239.
That’s almost 3 times cheaper than the Rogue bench AND it solves the problem of Nordic regressions!
And you can use it for way more than just Nordics! Traditional Nordic benches are completely useless when you’re not doing Nordics with them.
Now that you’re equipped with the right bench, let’s discuss a bit more about training frequency and progression.
How Many Days A Week Should I Do Nordic Curls?
Regardless of where you’re at in terms of Nordic ability, training frequency will vary slightly depending on a few factors. Generally speaking you’ll want to do Nordics twice per week if possible, but once a week may be a better fit. You should firstly consider how well you’re able to recover. Do your hamstrings feel fine a couple days later? Or are they sore for 3-4 days? As a general rule, more frequency is better so long as you’re recovering fairly quickly and not having to train through soreness. If you’re already doing brutal leg days twice a week, maybe adding Nordics to both leg sessions will be too much volume, so start by adding Nordics in just once per week.
Nordic Curl Sets & Reps?
There’s no definitive optimal approach to sets and reps when it comes to Nordic regressions. I’ve seen people have great results doing anywhere from 2-5 sets of between 4-10 reps. Experiment with different regression heights. Play around with shifting the focus from mainly eccentric strength reps to concentric only sets and then back again. More important than the set/rep scheme you use is how closely you pay attention to how well your body is recovering.
Nordic Curl Plateau?
If you haven’t made any progress on your Nordic for 2-3 weeks, it’s time to either take a de-load week or drastically change up the set/rep scheme you’ve been using. Doing both would be ideal. Give your body a chance to recover fully by cranking down the volume to about 30% of what you’d normally do and use 50% of your normal weight (use a much easier regression).
Alternatively you can just take the whole week off. I like to throw in some isometrics to my de-load weeks which are a great way to stimulate the muscle without damaging the tissue. Instead of lifting weights for a week, just do some single leg glute ham bridge holds while letting everything heal up. Switch up your routine when you begin again the following week and you’ll smash right through that Nordic plateau!
Quite simply put, Nordics curls are a must have exercise in any serious athlete’s routine. There’s no better way to develop knee flexion ability and lower body explosiveness. People used to avoid them because of how brutal they are and because they were a pain in the behind to regress... But now that the Nordic weight bench has made Nordic curls not only affordable, but also pretty enjoyable to work on, you’ve got absolutely no excuses to not be getting your Nordic on!