The Cable Hammer Curls are a great workout for isolating and creating the biceps and forearms that focus the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles and stabilize sections of the deltoids and trapezius muscles. It is an essential component of any training plan to increase muscle volume and strength. 

Although we often resolve to free weights like dumbbells when we think of hammer curls, the cable rope variation provides constant tension at all angles throughout the range of motion while keeping the hands in a neutral or hammer position.

This popular arm-focused exercise makes your arms look three-dimensional, and lets you carry the strength over to other valuable exercises that require forearm power and endurance.

Moreover, it strengthens an athlete’s grip and allows for more weight to be lifted for a higher total volume. Before you start curling, here’s everything there is to know about this non-negotiable exercise so you won’t leave any targeted muscle lagging behind.

This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:

  • How To Do Cable Hammer Curl
  • Benefits of Doing The Cable Hammer Curl
  • Common Cable Hammer Curl Mistakes To Avoid
  • Cable Hammer Curl Muscles Worked
  • Cable Hammer Curl vs Dumbbell Hammer Curl
  • Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
  • Cable Hammer Curl Variations
  • Cable Hammer Curl Alternative Exercises
  • FAQs About Cable Hammer Curl

How To Do Cable Hammer Curl

What You’ll Need:

  • Cable Machine: You can easily adjust the weights as you would need to attach a rope handle, either double or single, to a low point on the cable machine for the cable hammer curl.

Alternative Equipment

  • Resistance Band with Anchor – Instead of weight stacks, the tension from the resistance band can be used as an alternative. 

Step 1: Position Yourself At The Equipment

Go to the available equipment with a rope attachment, either double or single, and set it to its lowest setting on the cable machine.

Step 2: Grab The Rope and Grip It Tight

Hold a rope in each hand and stand strong. Keep your upper arms stationary and maintain a tight grip on your wrists and push your shoulder blades together to lock them into position, as your biceps should be the sole muscle engaging the workout.

Step 3: Maintain Proper Posture

When your shoulders are now set, hold the handles and keep your wrist stiff as you squeeze. All you want to do is flex and stretch your elbow as you perform the cable rope hammer curl.

Don’t allow your elbows to swing too far back or forward. Otherwise, you risk losing the needed tension in your biceps. The rope’s arc should approximately form a half-circle from the front of your hip to the front of your deltoid.

Step 4: Raise The Rope

Raise the rope over 90 degrees at the elbow so that the thumb is at shoulder level. Continue squeezing the biceps until you’ve reached the peak of the cable hammer curl.

Maintaining a regulated pace throughout the rep can aid in the improvement of proper technique and increase the stress applied to the target muscles.

Step 5: Pause At The Top Before Returning To The Starting Position

Hold at the top, then return the rope to the starting position while keeping the elbow beneath the shoulder or slightly in front of the shoulder. As you return the rope to the starting position, keep a gradual and controlled pace to have the needed tension on your biceps.

Cable Hammer Curls Benefits

1. Bigger Brachialis

The brachialis, which resides beneath the biceps, is one of the essential muscles for building that coveted biceps peak since it may assist in pushing your biceps out more, making them rounder.

Because it solely joins to the ulna bone, the brachialis has one function, and that is the elbow flexion. As a result, to train it best, you must do exercises with your hands in a neutral or pronated position.

Cable curls with a rope attachment are the best workout for this since they allow you to lift more weight and hence stress the brachialis more than reverse-grip bicep workouts.

2. Getting Fantastic Forearms

The cable hammer curl helps your arms appear more buffed in detail by strengthening the brachioradialis. 

This is the huge lower arm muscle that rests on the thumb side of your forearm and, when well-developed, helps your arms appear thicker since it visually links your lower arms to your upper arms when they’re relaxed.

As a result, your forearms are used to a significant degree during the lifting process. This is especially advantageous if you lift hard because the brachioradialis is made up of 60% type 2 muscle fibers. 

3. Better Biceps Long Head

The long head refers to the outside region of the bicep. Notably, it is one of the most underdeveloped muscles on the arms of many lifters.

While there are better workouts for the long head beside hammer rope cable curls, adding some more training volume for your sluggish long head is never a bad thing. To maximize activation even further, utilize a single hammer curl rope attachment and exercise one arm at a time.

Just make sure to keep your arm behind your chest when performing this workout variant since doing so provides a bigger stretch on the long head of your biceps.

4. Easy To Build Up On Weight Load

The most crucial factor in achieving hypertrophy and strength training is the tension level you get from the weights. Cable machines, aside from being flexible to be used in various workout, is also designed to progressively increase in smaller increments of weight as compared to free weights like dumbbells.

Common Cable Hammer Curl Mistakes to Avoid

Not Performing The Full Range of Motion

When performing this exercise, many individuals do not come all the way up in the entire movement but only coming up till their forearms are parallel to the floor.

This does not completely engage the target muscles, and you should raise the dumbbells all the way to your shoulders for it to be effective.

Using Momentum To Lift The Weight

The most common error made when doing any variant of the curl movement is swinging your body to lift the weight. This is frequently caused by utilizing too heavy weights for you to handle. The forearms should be the only ones moving, neither the hips nor the back.

You can limit the temptation to utilize momentum by standing with your back to a wall by performing the exercise.

Drifting Your Elbows

When executing any variation of the cable hammer curl exercise, keep your elbows tucked at your sides. This will reduce the temptation to use momentum while simultaneously focusing on the target muscles.

Cable Hammer Curl Muscles Worked

  • Brachialis
  • Brachioradialis
  • Biceps Brachii
  • Forearm Flexors
  • Forearm Extensors

The cable rope hammer curl strengthens the muscles in the lower and upper arms, particularly the brachialis and brachioradialis, and can help in strength exercises, pulls, and other power workouts. The biceps flex the elbow, and most strength-focused athletes work on their biceps during more difficult exercises such as Deadlifts, cleans, Pull-ups, tyre flips, and heavy carries.

Increasing biceps size and strength and general growth can not only enhance the aesthetics of this muscle group but also helps reduce strain on the elbow and surrounding tissues during periods of severe training or overuse.

Cable Hammer Curls vs Dumbbell Hammer Curls

The cable hammer curl increases biceps growth and strength by focusing on the forearms and the outside portion of the biceps. Using the cable ensures that resistance is maintained on the biceps throughout the range of motion of the workout.

On the other hand, dumbbell hammer curls are a strength training exercise that focuses on your biceps and forearms. The hammer curl differs from the Standard Bicep Curl in that it is performed with a neutral grip with your palms facing inward during the whole range of motion.

Regardless, cable hammer curl produces consistent strain and, as a result, a more effective muscle pump than the traditional free-weight form. However, because of their mass-building nature, the cable rope hammer curl might be your primary bicep workout if you prefer the simplicity of cables to the complications of free weight stack.

Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs:

For Strength Training

Perform four to six sets of five to eight repetitions with a moderate to heavyweight, resting two minutes between sets.

Muscular strength can be built by combining high-intensity exercises with lower rep ranges and extended rest intervals. Strength-training regimens aim to use muscular mass to produce contractile force while also training your neuromuscular system.

For Muscle Gains

Perform three to five sets of eight to twelve repetitions with lightweight stack. You may also increase time under strain by adjusting training tempos, such as slowing down the eccentric or stopping at the top.

To generate extra muscles, you must work the muscle for 30 to 40 seconds, as it’s about the time it takes most individuals to execute eight to twelve reps.

For Enhanced Muscle Endurance

Do three to five sets of 12-20 repetitions with light to moderate weights to develop endurance to the biceps or metabolic demand.

This exercise aims to train with low-to-moderate loads and shorter rest times to challenge local muscular endurance, increase overall work capacity, and potentially help in improving strength.

Cable Hammer Curl Variations

Cross Body Cable Rope Curls

The cross-body cable rope curl targets your biceps’ long head more than the standard cable rope hammer curl. Because you’re just utilizing one arm at a time, you’ll be a little stronger overall.

The only true disadvantage is that your sets will take even longer because you must train each arm separately.

Single Arm Rope Curls

Because you can devote 100% of your concentration to strengthening each individual arm, the single-arm cable rope hammer curl helps you establish a better mind-muscle link.

The disadvantage is that unless you have anything to hang onto, executing cable rope hammer curls one arm at a time will likely make you feel off-balance because they require more core stability than the two-arm variety.

However, if you have muscular imbalances, it’s worth trying this unconventional version to grow more even-looking biceps.

Slow Negative Rope Hammer Curls

According to studies, slowing down the eccentric phase of your hammer curl reps boosts the activation of your brachialis muscle. This is vital if your biceps are lagging since the brachialis is one of the most overlooked muscles in the upper body.

If you want to build your biceps, try to lower the cable rope over a 5-second period to extend the duration under stress for the all-important brachialis muscle.

Preacher or Incline Hammer Curl

Offering a more comprehensive arm movement, it targets and activates the elbow flexor muscles (biceps brachii and brachialis) by keeping your elbows in place as you curl the weights. Only the forearms move without engaging your delts or other muscle groups, forcing you to focus more on the tension on your upper arm and reducing the tendency to cheat on the range of motion which is usually the case with regular hammer curls.

Cable Hammer Curl Alternatives

Close-Grip Chin-Up

The close-grip chin-up shifts the focus away from the back muscles and toward the biceps and forearms. Aim to effectively control the lowering part of each repetition and extend at the elbow while preserving tension on the biceps muscle to enhance its muscle engagement.

Rope/Towel Curl

Rope/towel curls can be performed with cables with a rope connection or a kettlebell with a towel tied through the grip. Using a towel or rope for this exercise increases grip strength challenges as it positions the wrist in a more neutral posture than conventional curls and improves total upper body and grip strength.

Dumbbell Hang Clean

The dumbbell hang clean is a fitness/CrossFit activity that is essentially comparable to the hammer curl, except that the person ‘cleans’ the weight up to the shoulder using momentum and the hips.

On the other hand, because the activity targets the biceps and forearms less because of the momentum, the person may typically do it with heavier loads and larger volumes, boosting overall arm and fitness training benefits and usefulness in their sport-specific strength.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dumbbell curls are the most difficult when your arm is extended to 90 degrees. Cable curls create more steady and continuous tension. Cables are simpler to manage since fractional plates may be added to the stack.

The biceps brachii, brachioradialis, and brachialis muscles are worked during cable rope hammer curl. These are the muscles that allow you to bend your elbow.

While cable hammer curl primarily engages the long head of the bicep, a regular bicep curl engages the shorter head of the bicep.

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