The Nordic Hamstring Curl

The Nordic hamstring curl is an advanced hamstring exercise aimed at strengthening the hamstrings in their lengthened state. Most hamstring injuries occur while they are stretched in sprinting or explosive jumping activities. The goal of this exercise is to strengthen the muscles in their lengthened state with an eccentric (lowering) focus.

To perform this exercise, you will just need a friend and a soft surface. Start in a full kneeling upright position. Your friend will be behind you applying weight to your heels/back of your ankles. His or her job is to make sure your feet stay planted in the ground throughout the exercise (very important role!). While maintaining a straight line from your knees to your shoulder, slowly lower yourself down to the ground. Most athletes will not be able to control themselves all the way down; that’s okay! Only lower yourself down as low as you can until you lose posture, then catch yourself on the ground with your hands. To reset, use your hands to push yourself up and squeeze your hamstrings and glutes to pull the rest of the way. Perform 4-6 repetitions then switch with your partner.

Since the above version is quite advanced, here is an alternative exercise with the same purpose. To perform this version, you will either need a set of sliders or simply a hardwood floor with some socks. Start on your back with your knees bent and heels on the sliders or the ground. Perform a glute bridge; in this position, your goal is to achieve a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Maintaining this neutral spine position, slowly extend your knees out. Once your posture breaks or your hamstrings can’t handle the tension, drop your hips to the ground and reset.

Tim Kilpatrick is a certified strength and conditioning specialist at Compete Sport Performance’s Lake Forest facility.