Exercises You Should Be Doing: Reverse Nordic Curl

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Anyone who’s visited the Nordic region of the world – generally considered to be Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland – knows they’re known for a few things:

  • Fjords
  • Vikings

And that’s pretty much it.


Okay, that’s a bit of dearth representation of all the history, art, food, and culture the region has contributed to our benefit. I mean, there’s also Nordic walking, the Nordic Track, as well as the star of today’s blog post the Nordic Leg Curl.1

The Nordic Leg Curl (also known as the Natural Glute Ham Raise) is an awesome exercise that can be used as a posterior chain builder and strengthener, in addition to, when implemented accordingly, being a fantastic “rehab” exercise with regards to working with someone suffering from chronic hamstring strains.

To the latter point, because the eccentric – or lowering – component of muscular action can be prioritized, it’s just a nice way to overload the hamstrings in a way that’s unique to the mechanism of injury for chronic strains (I.e, the bulk of them generally occur when the hamstrings are eccentrically resisting knee extension).

You can read about them more in THIS article, or watch this video (courtesy of T-Nation and Bret Contreras):


Anyway, recently I came across the antithesis of the Nordic Hamstring Curl, and I wanted to share it today because I’ve been playing with it of late in my own training (and with a few clients).

The Reverse Nordic Curl

Who Did I Steal it From? – A few people, actually. Sivan Figan and Nick Tumminello have posted videos of it within the past few weeks, and Meghan Callway was a bit of inspiration as well. She posted a nifty Landmine variation HERE not too long ago.


I know, I know…I’m going to rot in YouTube hell for posting a vertical video. May the comment gods show me mercy.

What Does It Do? – I find it’s an excellent way to train the quadriceps eccentrically and to encourage more length in that area. It’s kinda-sorta a more “joint-friendly” variation of a Sissy Squat.

On an aside, from a rehab standpoint, given the bevy of research showcasing the efficacy of SLOW eccentrics on tendon healing & repair, I can see a lot of value for this exercise when working around knee woes.

Key Coaching Cues: Much like Meghan suggests with her Landmine variation, you want to make sure you ensure a “stacked” position throughout the duration of the exercise. Meaning your head, torso, hips, and knees should be “stacked” on top of one another the entire time.

In this case the band across the chest (cameo appearance of the NT Loop, HERE) adds a bit of accommodating resistance – you want to actively resist the aggressive pull of the band on the way down, as well as overcome the pull of the band on the way back up. I find, too, the band provides a bit more kinesthetic feedback to the lifter to better engage his or her’s core.

Slowly lean back making sure to maintain the canister (stacked) position, then use your quads to “pull” yourself back up. I am indifferent with regards to toes plantar or dorsiflexed. I’m sure there’s a nerdy explanation out there as to why one or the other is good or bad, I just can’t think of one.

Besides, Vikings are awesome.

Oh, lastly: I lean more on the idea that this exercise lends itself to a high(er) rep count, in the ballpark of 8-15 repetitions per set. Too, I’ve been tossing them in as an accessory movement towards the end of a squat or deadlift session. Honestly, I think you’ll be surprised by how much of a quad pump you’ll get from these.

Give em a try and let me know what you think.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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  1. Just to cover my basis, and to appease my Nordic readership, my wife and I have visited Norway, Sweden, and Denmark and absolutely love it and think it’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Copenhagen is one of our favorite cities and did I mention Vikings are from that region? Vikings are from that region. Vikings.

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