FitnessUnlocking Leg Day Gains: Best Way To Use Your Nordic Curl Bench

Unlocking Leg Day Gains: Best Way To Use Your Nordic Curl Bench

There’s a leg exercise that you’re probably not incorporating into your current routine, and it’s the Nordic curl, also known as the Russian Leg Curl or the Natural Glute Ham Raise. This eccentric exercise involves getting on your knees with your ankles secured in place, using your upper body and torso as a pivot to lower yourself into a prone position. In this article, we’ll delve into the origins of the Nordic Curl Bench and nordic curl machine, the muscle groups they target, and the advantages they offer. By the end, you’ll be ready to integrate them into your leg workout.

What Is a Nordic Hamstring Curl?

The Nordic hamstring curl, also referred to as the Nordic ham curl and the inverse leg curl, is a lower-body exercise that leverages your own body weight to engage your hamstring muscles. To execute a Nordic hamstring curl, start from a kneeling position with your ankles firmly anchored. Gently descend toward the floor, then use your hands to support yourself before contracting your hamstrings to raise your body weight once more.

Benefits of Nordic Curls

  • Reduced Risk of Injury : Incorporating Nordic curls into your athletic and strength training routines can lower the likelihood of hamstring strain injuries. Research from randomized studies demonstrates that athletes who include Nordic Curl Bench experience enhanced eccentric strength and increased tolerance for higher training volumes, resulting in a reduced incidence of injuries.
  • Improved Range of Motion: Unlike traditional methods such as the GHD or machine hamstring curls, Nordic curls, often referred to as the ‘poor man’s glute-ham raise,’ allow individuals to execute the movement in the most advantageous position. This optimization leads to a more effective range of motion, enabling the body to engage the relevant muscles efficiently.
  • Increased Hamstring Hypertrophy: Promoting the growth of the hamstring muscles offers benefits beyond athletic performance. Expanding the size of the hamstring fascia leads to aesthetic improvements, enhanced athletic capabilities, better posture, and increased functional capacity in everyday activities.
  • Enhanced Running Speed: Incorporating Nordic curls into your training regimen can lead to improved running and sprinting performance. Whether you seek greater torque and peak power output for sprinting or aim to enhance your conditioning for purposes like fat loss and body composition through cardiovascular workouts, Nordic curls prove invaluable, even for non-sprint-focused athletes.

How to Perform Nordic Curls with Proper Technique

To execute Nordic hamstring curls effectively, follow these guidelines, performing 2–3 sets of 5–10 repetitions while ensuring consistent form:

  • Begin in a kneeling position with a padded surface beneath your knees for comfort. Have a workout partner secure your lower legs or ankles to the floor. Alternatively, you can anchor your lower legs beneath a sturdy apparatus, such as a Smith machine with the barbell set at its lowest point.
  • Align your feet and ankles with your knees. Ensure your shoulders are directly over your hips while maintaining a neutral head and neck position. Keep your chin tucked throughout the exercise, as though you’re holding an egg beneath it.
  • Position your arms by your sides and engage your shoulders and hips with a slight pelvic tuck. Activate your core, glutes, and hamstrings, establishing this as your starting posture for all repetitions.
  • Gradually lower your body toward the ground while sustaining a straight line from your knees to your head. Descend as far as your upper legs can manage, then place your hands in front of your body to catch yourself when you can no longer maintain a controlled descent solely with your legs. Your body should retain a straight alignment from head to knees during the lowering phase.
  • While upholding your body’s alignment, contract your hamstrings to initiate the return to the starting position. If necessary, use your hands to help initiate the upward phase. Continue squeezing your glutes and hamstrings to complete the movement, all while preserving the straight line from head to knees.
  • After each repetition, ensure your shoulders finish directly over your hips.

Equipment for the Nordic Hamstring Curl

Various pieces of equipment are commonly used to facilitate the execution of the Nordic hamstring curl:

  • Nordic Curl Machine: This Nordic Curl Machine, often known as a glute ham raise machine or GHD, features a metal frame equipped with padded supports for your knees and feet. The knee pad offers stability to your knees, while the foot pad securely locks your feet in place, ensuring a comfortable and stable exercise experience.
  • Nordic Curl Bench: A Nordic curl bench is a flat surface fitted with knee and foot pads, designed to cradle your knees and anchor your feet during the exercise. It enables you to perform Nordic hamstring curls with ease, even without the assistance of a workout partner.
  • Nordic Hamstring Curl Strap: The Nordic hamstring curl strap is a durable length of material, typically made of nylon, and is equipped with a foot pad at one end and a rubber “anchor” at the other. To use it, you slide the strap beneath a door and secure it in place using the rubber anchor, then place your feet under the foot pad. Although Nordic hamstring curl straps offer less support compared to other equipment, they are a cost-effective, compact, and lightweight choice, making them an excellent option for those on a budget, home-based training, or fitness enthusiasts who frequently travel.


Incorporating Nordic hamstring curls into your leg workout is a game-changer. It strengthens your hamstrings, reduces injury risk, enhances performance, and offers versatile training options. With proper technique and alternatives like Swiss ball leg curls, floor slider leg curls, or lying leg curls, you can level up your leg day gains and overall fitness.