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Shogun NORD-EX Review (2024)

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Quick Overview

The Shogun NORD-EX is a posterior chain machine that allows for Nordic curls and back extensions. It’s a heavy-duty piece made with thick steel and high-quality molded foam. It also offers multiple training angles for progressions and muscle emphasis. With a compact design and upright storage, it’s an excellent option for home gym owners.

Overall Rating: 9.3/10

Build Quality: 9.4/10

Versatility: 9.0/10

Padding: 9.6/10

Stability: 9.1/10

Mobility & Storage: 9.5/10

Value: 9.1/10

Who It’s Right For

  • Someone who wants to bulletproof their posterior chain
  • Those who want to train Nordic curls and back extensions
  • Anyone limited on space

Things to Consider

  • There are less expensive options
  • Slight wobble in center post

When it comes to building a strong posterior chain, the Nordic curl and back extension are two of the most effective exercises.

In a sense, Nordic curls have become one of the ultimate tests of strength.

They’re downright hard, but as I’ll explain below, the NORD-EX has built-in progressions so you can master this movement.

Even better, the machine combines a Nordic bench with the back extension, saving valuable space and money.

But how does it compare to standalone machines? And is it worth the higher price relative to some others?

In this review, I’ll cover everything you need to know about the Shogun NORD-EX. I’ll share the pros and cons and compare it to the versatile Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper.

Shogun NORD-EX

Shogun NORD-EX as a Back Extension
Shogun NORD-EX
SHOGUN NORD-EX
The Shogun NORD-EX is a heavy-duty machine for Nordic curls and back extensions. It uses high-quality materials and offers multiple angles for progressions.
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Is it just me, or have Nordic curls absolutely exploded in recent years? I mean, they’ve always been a great movement for strength and conditioning, but man…

It seems like everyone and their mom wants to train this movement.

*raises hand*

This includes me.

The Shogun NORD-EX was one of the first to bring a consumer model to market. Started as a collaboration between Shogun Sports and Derek Williams, the piece was iterated to blend two machines into one.

As someone who loves 45-degree back extensions, I was especially excited to try it.

And as someone with limited Nordic curl experience, I was drawn to the ability to progress the movement.

Now I can perform a full Nordic curl and use the machine 2+ times a week.

There are some areas of opportunity/improvement with the NORD-EX that I’ll cover in this review, but I’m very happy with the piece overall.

Let’s take a look at the specs and jump into the review.

Specs

  • Weight: 126 lbs
  • Dimensions: 41″ L x 25″ W
  • Frame Material: 11-Gauge Steel
  • Foam Type: Molded Polyurethane
  • Back Extension Angles: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 Degrees
  • Nordic Curl Angles: 15, 30, 45 Degrees
  • Assembly: Fully Pre-Assembled

Overall Build Quality

When I unboxed the NORD-EX, I was immediately impressed with the build quality. At 126 lbs, it’s a heavy piece of equipment for something so compact.

The main frame is built with 11-gauge steel, but it uses thicker 8-gauge steel on the footplate and even thicker 4-gauge steel on the side plates.

Shogun NORD-EX as a Nordic Curl

Shogun doesn’t reference a weight capacity on the machine, but Derek Williams mentions it should hold up to 500 lbs, presumably in the back extension mode. As a Nordic curl, it should be able to hold even more.

The unit is powder-coated in textured black, similar to a squat rack. It also has stainless accents, including name plates and the center tube/angle adjuster.

The Pads

The NORD-EX uses the best foam of any consumer-level Nordic bench. Most benches use traditional weight bench foam wrapped in textured vinyl. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ll instantly notice a difference with the Shogun molded foam.

Shogun NORD-EX Padding

Molded foam is form-fitted and not wrapped in vinyl. It has a dense structure that doesn’t suppress much under load, making it a great option for fitness equipment. It’s more durable than conventional foams, and because it isn’t wrapped, there are no concerns about tears or fit issues.

They also included debossed logos in the pads, which add a premium aesthetic that you just don’t get with vinyl.

Versatility

The biggest benefit of the NORD-EX is that you get two machines in one. I’ll detail the Nordic curl and back extensions features below:

Nordic Curls

To perform a Nordic curl, you’ll adjust the machine into the flat position, which rotates the footplate perpendicular to the ground. You’ll then adjust the ankle pads to lock your legs into position.

Testing Pad Comfort on the Shogun Nord-Ex

From there, you’ll aggressively squeeze your hamstrings and glutes with your arms by your sides, ending with a vertical torso.

This is a full Nordic curl.

When you first try it, you may not be able to complete a single rep. Don’t worry, most people can’t.

Shogun smartly built in progressions to help you gradually work up to a full Nordic.

To do this, remove the hip pad/handle attachment and position it in the front articulating tube. Now you can adjust the angle from 15 degrees (least assistance before flat) to 45 degrees (most assistance).

Nordic Curl on Shogun Nord-Ex

You can also adjust the height based on preference and difficulty. The higher the pad, generally the easier the movement.

Additionally, you can adjust the length of the pad in the flat position from 34.2″ to 43″. Shogun recommends user heights between 5′ and 6’8″.

Back Extensions

One of my favorite exercises is the back extension, but they normally take up too much space and cost a pretty penny.

To perform a back extension on the NORD-EX, you’ll rotate the front tube backward and place the long tube under the hip pad into it.

Back Extension on Nord-Ex

Once in position, you can adjust the angle from 35-55 degrees.

Most back extensions are fixed at 45 degrees, so getting five angle choices is a nice benefit.

Mobility & Storage

With a total footprint of 41″ L x 25″ W, the NORD-EX is a space-friendly machine. One of its best features is its upright storage capabilities, which saves even more space. By storing the unit vertically, you condense the unit into only an 18.5″ depth.

Shogun NORD-EX Upright Stroage

The machine also includes wheels on the back for portability. You can use the horizontal bar as a handle to lift the back, but you need to lift it ~13″ before the wheels can spin.

Delivery and Assembly

There is some confusion around the delivery and assembly of the NORD-EX. Mine shipped in a single box and was fully assembled. Some others have mentioned it ships in three boxes and requires approximately 20-30 minutes of assembly.

Even Shogun’s website is ambiguous, stating in one area that it ships fully assembled and in another that it doesn’t.

Shogun NORD-EX Nordic Curl Board

In either case, the packaging was some of the best I’ve ever seen. It was well-protected and used custom foam inserts for a premium experience. It felt like a high-end tech unboxing.

My Experience with the Shogun NORD-EX

I’ve had a very positive experience with this machine. Before owning a home gym, I used to perform back extensions regularly. However, I never invested in a standalone version because of space, budget, and its singular purpose.

The NORD-EX makes a lot more sense for home gyms because of the smaller footprint and multi-functionality.

I permanently keep the machine in the 45-degree extension mode unless I’m using it as a Nordic bench. I perform more extensions, so it makes more sense for me this way.

Adjusting the Shogun Nord-Ex

Generally, I love using it. The hip pad does wobble slightly in the tube when it’s just sitting there. But once you’re on the machine and you’ve loaded the pad with your weight, the wobble virtually disappears.

Another consideration is the pad gap. I’m glad they included one, but I wish it had more depth to avoid any awkward contact with the male anatomy.

The Nordic bench works flawlessly. The pads are comfortable under the knee, and I feel completely locked into position with the ankle rollers. Now that I can perform full Nordics, I don’t do as many progressive angles unless I’m deloading or training volume.

However, I can’t overstate how nice it is to have those angles as you improve your hamstring strength and power.

Potential Improvements

Aside from reducing some wobble and adjusting gap depth, I see some opportunities to turn this machine into even more. The tube steel is already there, so adding additional attachments is very possible.

It reminds me somewhat of the Ironmaster Super Bench Pro, which offers dozens of attachments. Shogun could realistically add a dip bar or a pull-up station, for example.

User Reviews

As of this review, the NORD-EX has a perfect 5/5 rating on their website. Buyers love the versatility, stability, size, and foam quality. Several also pointed out the excellent packaging.

One user mentioned the slight wobble in the main support I referenced above but was otherwise very pleased with the product.

Shogun NORD-EX vs. Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper GHD

Shogun NORD-EX
Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper
Product
Product
Shogun NORD-EX
Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper
Price
Price
$999
$699
Dimensions
Dimensions
41" L x 25" W
65" L x 23" W
Weight
Weight
126 lbs
105 lbs
Foam Quality
Foam Quality
Excellent
Good
Movements
Movements
2
6

The Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper took the home gym world by storm in 2023, offering six exercises in a single machine. While they differ in several ways, the NORD-EX and Nordic Hyper share Nordic curls and back extensions.

In addition to those movements, you can use the Nordic Hyper for glute ham raises, reverse hypers, hip thrusts, and sit-ups. It’s a very innovative piece that also takes up a small amount of space.

With this many movements, it is larger than the NORD-EX, but it also stands upright and includes wheels.

Shogun Nord-Ex vs. Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper

A key difference is that the Nordic Hyper doesn’t have molded foam, which I think feels inferior to the Shogun. It’s also not quite as rigid because of the additional moving parts.

The Freak Athlete unit is actually less expensive than the NORD-EX despite having more versatility. If you see yourself using the other functions and want to save some money, it’s a fantastic home gym option. I own one and feel it’s a solid solution.

However, if you only perform Nordics and back extensions, the NORD-EX gets the nod from me. It’s more expensive, but the quality is better, and it feels more solid during use.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Excellent build quality with high-quality materials
  • Molded foam is durable and comfortable
  • Solid versatility for performing Nordic curls and back extensions
  • Multiple angles for progressions
  • Compact size with upright storage
  • Arrives fully assembled

Cons

  • Slight wobble in the center support on hyperextensions
  • There are less expensive options

Final Thoughts

The Shogun NORD-EX is a versatile and very effective piece for building posterior strength and rehabbing from injuries.

I’m impressed with the build quality, especially the heavy-duty frame and molded foam.

I’m happy with the back extension angles, and I love being able to progress the Nordic curl across three angles.

I also love the compact design and ability to store the unit upright.

However, I’d like to see some additional versatility with attachments. The center post is a little wobbly (fine under load), and I think a deeper channel between the hip pads would be more comfortable.

This piece is on the more expensive side, but its quality and performance are excellent. I highly recommend the NORD-EX to those looking to build their posterior chain with the budget to support it.

Shogun NORD-EX Rating

Build Quality: 9.4/10

Versatility: 9.0/10

Padding: 9.6/10

Stability: 9.1/10

Mobility & Storage: 9.5/10

Value: 9.1/10

Final Verdict

Overall: 9.3/10

Adam Hensley
Adam Hensley
Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab and has over two decades of fitness/training experience. He serves as the chief content creator and runs our YouTube channel and social media accounts. When he's not testing equipment or sharing his love for home gym life, you'll find him with his wife and two kids in sunny South Carolina.
Adam Hensley
Adam Hensley
Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab and has over two decades of fitness/training experience. He serves as the chief content creator and runs our YouTube channel and social media accounts. When he's not testing equipment or sharing his love for home gym life, you'll find him with his wife and two kids in sunny South Carolina.

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