Most lifters don't have the strength to do a perfect, crisp Nordic curl. At least not yet. These two variations will get you there AND build some serious hamstring size and strength.
1. Nordic Hamstring Eccentrics
Emphasizing the eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement while assisting yourself in the concentric (lifting) phase is an effective yet still brutal alternative. Basically, you're going to give yourself a push-off at the bottom. Don't worry, your hams will still have to kick in and do a tremendous amount of work.
How To do It
- Set a barbell up in a rack with enough weight to hold it down during the exercise. No barbell? Grab a buddy and have him hold your ankles down.
- Place a pad on the bar to cushion your heels. Secure your feet under the bar with your toes against the floor. Place a mat or a yoga pad below your knees to protect them from pressing against the hard surface of the floor.
- Starting from the top position, press your hips into full extension and engage your glutes and hamstrings.
- Lower yourself down to the ground in a slow and controlled manner, catching yourself in a kneeling, press-up position.
- Do an explosive push-up to project yourself off the floor while engaging your hamstrings. Use your hammies to pull yourself back to a fully upright position.
2. Nordic Hip Hinge
This time, instead of emphasizing the rep's eccentric portion, the emphasis is on increasing hamstring activation through manipulating the leverage.
Extend your hips throughout the movement until you reach a high (but bearable) level of engagement. This will gradually increase the load placed on the hamstrings. The range of movement will either be relatively moderate or large, depending on how advanced you are.
How To do It
- Set the barbell up and position yourself in the same starting position you'd be in during a Nordic curl.
- Start from the top with your hips hinged back and your torso forward, then extend your hips forward.
- Allow your torso to rise to an upright position while pressing your hips forward, aiming to achieve full extension.
- As your hamstrings are about to give way, retract your hips and drop your torso to decrease the leverage.