If you want stronger hamstrings, the Nordic hamstring curl is a great—if extremely difficult—exercise for you. Tyreek Hill crushed them during a workout last year
“The Nordic hamstring curl is one of the best bang-for-your-buck hamstring exercises out there,” Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S previously shared. That is exactly why YouTuber Connor Curtis wanted to get better at them. Curtis notes that the Nordic Curl was first outlined in a publication back in 1880, and it’s a move that continues to challenge leg strength.
“You have to completely dominate the eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement or you’ll fall flat on your face, and the concentric (raising) portion requires a ton of pure hamstring strength period,” says Samuel. “It’s also that rare bodyweight hamstring movement where you focus on flexing at the knee instead of extending at the hips, as you do during deadlift-style motions.”
For Curtis, it’s a challenge he’s ready to take on.
“Why not try and improve some of my weakness and train it everyday for an entire month,” he says. To do so, he went to the hardware store for a plank of wood and some bolts to construct his own piece of equipment (which mimics a curl bar).
On Day 1, he tests himself for a baseline of strength and technique. He notes that he loses traction at about the 65-degree mark on the eccentric part of the curl, and on the concentric he can’t even do it. He grabs a bunch of cushions to catch himself, and laughs at how weak he feels. He can only do 4 reps.
“I’m just laughing at my own failure,” he says.
To train, he continues to use cushions to catch himself as he increases his reps, and also decreases the amount of cushioning catching him. He focuses on slow eccentrics with a light load (below 10 reps). By Day 8, he hits the 51-degree mark on the eccentric part of the curl, a notable improvement.
He continues training, with less and less cushion. He increases his reps to between 13 and 15. And by Week 3, he can fully lower himself with nearly half as many cushions… but still has some work to do to not crash to the ground at the bottom.
“Now all I need is the athletic ability to go along with the Nordic,” he says.
But by Day 30, he completely nails it with just a few cushions, and does 2 sets of 5 reps down to nearly 20-degrees.
“Let’s go!” he yells.
Afterwards, he offers some insight.
“Do I think you should do this everyday? Hell no. I don’t think it’s the most efficient way of getting better at it. They’re super taxing on the hamstrings so I definitely wouldn’t do it everyday,” he notes.
He also plans to continue training to nail the concentric part of the curl, but he’s really pleased with his progress.
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