The best Nordic benches for an explosive lower body workout

Looking to step up your hamstring workout from just a glute lift? Try trying a Nordic curl. This simple yet intense bodyweight exercise places your knees on the ground rather than behind a pad, which changes the focus of the movement and can really challenge your hamstrings even with just a few reps.

Of course, though, your feet need to be anchored to achieve this forward bend, so to participate effectively in Nordic curls, you must either A) have a willing partner ready to hold and protect your feet during your reps, or B) add a Nordic bench to your home gym.

Nordic benches can help you unlock the explosive power and lower-body strength of their companion exercise, and there are a handful of brands that offer setups to keep your feet in place without the need to call a friend or colleague for assistance. Additionally, some Nordic benches can be adjusted and fine-tuned to help you stay supported as your hamstrings grow and adapt to the stressors at hand.

How we tested

collage of nordic benches gym as we tested

Ben Emminger

Sure, Nordic curls are one of the newer exercises I’ve adopted into my training regimen, but thankfully, I’ve been able to put some of the following choices into practice during my months with the movement. I have noticed and analyzed the efficiency of these benches in keeping my frame secure during my workout, as well as their help when I am just starting out. Nordic curls are one of those exercises where few can achieve a full range of motion with their initial strength, so benches that adjust to give regressed padding for less skilled lifters are a boon.

Of course, I also took note of how bulky and large these benches are in the confines of a home gym or apartment space, because it can be hard to justify owning a room-enveloping fitness tool when it’s used solely for a single exercise.

The Tib Bar Guy Nordic Back Extension Machine

The Tib Bar


The Tib Bar Guy Nordic Back Extension

  • Doubles as a back extension machine with settings reaching 45°
  • Some may prefer a thicker pad on their knees

Thanks to a sturdy frame, adjustable angles for setbacks, and the fact that you’re able to do back extensions with this rig as well, this Nordic bench from The Tib Bar Guy is a bona fide beast of a home gym accessory. Finding your footing on the diamond platform is simple and sturdy, and the included plate bar for the counterweight is also a plus for heavier training.

I also rate this Nordic back extension as the best choice in space as it can conveniently be stored upright, keeping the more open floor plan when not in use. As with other Tib Bar Guy equipment, however, most of the build quality goes into the frame, leaving a little to be desired when it comes to the padding. It’s by no means an uncomfortable experience, but those who want a soft pillow might be better off with another configuration.

Shogun Sports Mr1nf1n1ty x Shogun Nord-Ex

Shogun Sports


Shogun Sports Mr1nf1n1ty x Shogun Nord-Ex

  • Numerous adjustment settings that cater to a variety of workouts and body types
  • You need to put in posterior chain workouts to justify the price

If you want a Nordic bench that looks right at home in a commercial gym, this premium choice from Shogun Sports should be on your radar. The build quality of the Nord-Ex is top notch, with powder coating and stainless steel making up the majority of the chassis. This, accompanied by the high density foam pads, indicates that the Nord-Ex is a machine that is sure to last and perform over time and over time.

I also appreciate how versatile this Nordic bench is, and there’s pretty much a setting for any body type. The hip pad can be adjusted up to 43 inches which is excellent for back extensions and nordic curl setbacks. Also, when used as a back extension tool, you have the option of angles ranging from 35 to 45 degrees. I recommend using the Nord-Ex both as a back extension and as a Nordic bench, however, to better compensate for the high price. When viewed as one machine or another, it’s a bit of a hard sell, but as a double-threat piece of equipment, that nearly $1,000 price tag is more approachable.

The Tib Bar Guy EZ-North

The Tib Bar


The Tib Bar Guy EZ-North

  • Simple and convenient accessory that transforms virtually any weight bench into a Nordic bench
  • Strength depends on the width of your weight bench

Okay, so you may have the urge to add some Nordic curls to your workout routine, but the thought of adding yet another bench press to your home gym makes your wallet and available space tremble in fear. Thankfully, this EZ-Nord from The Tib Bar Guy can transform any weight bench into a rear chain-strengthening mechanism without tools or excessive fabrication. I like how simple it is to attach this device to the headrest of most benches, and the included one-inch shin guard helps bolster comfort as well.

Plus, the Quick Adjust Twist Pull knob at the ankle makes finding the ideal setup simple and intuitive. Naturally, though, your Nordic curl stance will be narrower with the EZ-North than with other options in this guide, since you only have the width of your weight bench to work with. Also, it’s best to strap this Nordic curl device to a bench that you’re sure is sturdy and secure—you don’t want to wobble and shiver as you attempt this strenuous movement.

Freak Athlete Essentials Nordic Mini

Weird athlete


Freak Athlete Essentials Nordic Mini


$249.99 (17% Off)

  • Compact, lightweight profile that’s easy to maneuver around your workout space
  • Additional weight plates may be required to obtain the correct counterweight

While the EZ-Nord is compact on its own, a full bench is required to make the most of it, and of course, not all athletes can accommodate the extra equipment. This stylish option from Freak Athlete Essentials, however, takes up less than five square feet of real estate, yet still allows for an explosive, hamstring-stimulating workout. Despite my small stature, I’m still able to train profitably thanks to the comfortable shin guard, full platform, and overall stable design…provided I take a little precaution.

According to the brand, the Nordic Mini can support athletes up to 300 pounds in weight and seven feet tall. Due to the small footprint, however, you may want to use the rear weight plate pivot to create a counterweight. I felt very confident throughout the movements with just a 25lb plate resting at the end of my setup, but make sure you fit accordingly so you too are as confident as possible in your workout.

The Tib Bar Guy Nordic Bench

The Tib Bar


The Tib Bar Guy Nordic Bench

  • The wider seat padding helps create a comfortable platform for your knees and shins
  • A narrower backrest can provide less support during traditional bench press exercises

Can you tell The Tib Bar Guy appreciates a strong rear chain? This premium weight bench can unlock all the benefits of Nordic hedgehogs AND serves as a fine structure for more traditional exercises like dumbbell presses and more. However, I really like this Nordic weight bench for beginner lifters, as the backrest easily adjusts to give you a closer base for Nordic curl regressions. Then, as your hamstrings strengthen, you can lower the angle until you feel comfortable reaching parallel.

If you’re not looking to perform Nordic curls on a particular day, the ankle pad is removable, so there are no cumbersome distractions as you place the weights. When it comes to the Nordic Weight Bench’s efficiency as a traditional weight bench, however, some lifters may feel under-supported. The rear pad is fine for resting your chest at the end of a regressed Nordic curl, but the thinner 10-inch profile isn’t the safest setup when attempting to press a barbell or dumbbell overhead.

Nord Stick Pro



Nord Stick Pro

  • Fits securely under any door for a convenient workout on the go

While I’ve outlined a handful of space-saving Nordic benches that can be great for a compact home setup, it doesn’t take a fitness guru to realize that these tools aren’t the most travel-friendly. The NordStick Pro, on the other hand, can be transported easily inside a gym bag or luggage and offers all the benefits of Nordic curls wherever you may roam. All you need is a sturdy door and (if desired) some padding under the knees. The NordStick Pro then uses tension to keep your feet in place as you stretch and control your body through the eccentric and concentric.

I really admire this choice for the travel-minded athlete, as it eliminates the excuse to give up this exercise when away from the home gym. Also, the cost is very affordable, although I wish NordStick included the branded kneepad in this kit. For athletes who want that extra sense of comfort, you’ll need to add one more item to your cart before checking out.

How to choose a Nordic bench

To measure

Nordic benches aren’t the bulkiest of machines and are often low to the ground, but you still want to make sure your equipment is within the confines of your workout environment. Also, try looking for a Nordic bench with some weight, as this can help you create a more stable setup during your exercises. If you need to go for a lighter, more compact silhouette, make sure it features a weight pan pivot to help you counterbalance.

Foot and ankle safety

When you perform a Nordic curl, you’re trying to hit your hamstrings through an eccentric and concentric hinge. To make this movement possible, your feet and ankles must be anchored to the base of your setup. Look for Nordic benches with a sturdy footplate that’s sticky enough to prevent slipping and sliding, as well as a full-body stabilized ankle bar. Most of the Nordic benches on this list also use a pin and lock system at this butt point, which gives athletes with thicker or thinner ankles the ability to lock more efficiently.


Let’s face it, Nordic curls aren’t the easiest exercise to complete. After all, this is probably one of the first instances where your workout really isolates your hamstrings for the sake of growth and progress. So, to at least get the experience somewhat bearable, make sure your Nordic bench has good padding structure on the ankles and shins. Look for high-density foam that won’t break down or fall apart over time, as well as shin guards that extend far enough from the base to leave the entire lower leg supported during movement.

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