Nordic Curls are Officially Overrated

(And WON'T Turn You into a Freak Athlete)

Alec Enkiri | 12/29/23

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Nordic Curls are OVERRATED

NORDIC CURLS WILL NOT TURN YOU INTO A FREAK ATHLETE.

For some reason a lot of people are under this misconception (probably because they have been HEAVILY popularized and overhyped by the Knees Over Toes Guy in the last couple years), but this is simply not the case. The reason for this has to do with the anatomy of the hamstring muscles and the nature of the Nordic curl exercise.

The hamstrings are what's known as a biarticular muscle group, that is they cross over and act upon two joints. In this case the hips where they create hip extension, and the knees where they create knee flexion. The nature of the Nordic curl exercise is DYNAMIC knee flexion coupled with STATIC hip extension. So it strengthens the knee flexion function of the hamstrings very well, but it basically ignores the hip extension function.Β 

Hip extension is arguably the much more important function of the hamstrings when it comes to overall functionality, speed, and athleticism, as the hips are really the true powerhouse of the body. So while Nordic curls are great at what they do, they should not be overemphasized in the larger programming. They strengthen the knee flexion aspect of the hamstrings, which can maintain strength balance between knee flexion (which is often neglected) and knee extension (which is often heavily emphasized), help add a little bit more meat on the back of the thigh, and reduce your risk of hamstring strains while sprinting.

But they do very little to directly contribute to enhancing athleticism, or making you into a "freak athlete." In my opinion, their primary benefit is simply as an injury risk reduction tool, and even then, the benefits they provide can be gotten through other means. As such, following the trends of the fitness industry in the last couple of years, their value within the larger program has been blown way out of proportion.

Instead of pretending they are some sort of athleticism panacea, let's appreciate them for what they are and what they do. Nothing more, nothing less.

A deeper dive into hamstring anatomy and the Nordic curl exercise

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