In another post I wrote a letter full of recommendations for being a bigger, stronger, and faster athlete to my 15 year-old self. One of those recommendations included doing the nordic curl exercise. I first attempted a Nordic curl at age 18 and failed miserably. I can remember exactly where I was and who my partner was (it was part of a team workout). A little more than a ¼ of the way down, my hamstrings completely cramped up. I kept trying but because I was so weak my training was ineffective and eventually our strength coach stopped programming them. It wasn’t until seven years later, after one to two months of dedicated training with the original Nordstick, that I got my first Nordic curl. Here are the five things I wish I had done back in 2014 when I failed my first nordic curl to get to a full curl in months rather than years.
At that time there was no easy nordic solution aside using something heavy like a barbell, or smith machine. Partner curling “works” but it is limiting. For me it caused my calves to cramp every time which was discouraging. Even so, that would have been better than no nordic curling. Now with the Nordstick there are no excuses.
Lower slowly in the ranges you can control. When first starting out the best bang for your buck with the nordic curl comes with moving slowly. Wherever in the curl you start speeding up, use pause reps and assistance to slow down.
Get to WHEREVER your sticking point is and pause for 1-2 seconds. Ignore your ego and concentrate on those points. Over time, pause for longer periods at those weak points. This really emphasizes strength.
Get a perfect ¼ rep before a ½ rep and a perfect ½ rep before a ¾ quarter rep before a full rep. This helps to build control and building good control in these small ranges is incredibly hard work but is much more effective than speeding through the range. Don’t sacrifice quality for ego! A form of assistance like the nordspotter when first starting can help cement control in these ranges. Once you build solid control in the lowering phase, pulling yourself back up comes easily.
Start with 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps 1-2x/week. Gradually increase the reps and sets in those ranges over 3-4 weeks while working toward a full nordic. You are going to fail over and over trying to get a full rep, but you will get there if you follow the plan. And getting there should be a priority for you. Once you get your first full nordic don’t stop. Get five full nordics. Once you get five nordics, get ten. Once you get ten, add 5-10lbs. Rinse and repeat. Had I started this process at eighteen I would have monster hamstrings by now.
Wherever you are in your nordic curling journey, don’t wait. Implement these strategies for a better nordic curl and a better life!