Many people who engage in bodybuilding and resistance training aspire to have bigger biceps. They bulk up the arms and are noticeable to the lifter. The classic biceps curl is well-known for emphasizing the biceps’ bulge.

But if you want to step up your biceps game, the hammer curl is a great supplementary movement to your classic biceps curl as it boosts up the thickness and overall arm strength while improving your bicep’s peak. The hammer curl appears to be a simple exercise, but by simply turning your dumbbells to a 90-degree, you’ll be taking your power arm gains to a whole new level. Still, it should be done correctly.

There are several ways to adjust the hammer curl to provide variation and make the most of your tools. Hopefully, this will persuade you to incorporate this fantastic workout into your schedule. But what exactly are hammer curls, and how can you start doing them effectively?

Before you start twisting your wrists and curling your dumbbells, we’ll give you everything you need to know to make the most out of this power arm movement and flash those bumps in no time.

This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:

  • How to Hammer Curl
  • 3 Hammer Curls Benefits
  • Common Hammer Curl Mistakes to Avoid
  • Hammer Curl Muscles Worked
  • Hammer Curl vs Bicep Curl
  • Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
  • Hammer Curl Variations
  • Hammer Curl Alternative Exercises
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Hammer Curl

How To Hammer Curl

What You’ll Need:

  • Dumbbell: Use two dumbbells, one for each arm, to perform dumbbell hammer curls either with both arms simultaneously or alternately.

Alternative Equipment:

  • Rope cable: When you use a Cable Machine, you work against constant resistance throughout the exercise. And it is called the rope cable hammer curls.
  • Kettlebell: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your hands on the side of the kettlebell handle. You can do kettlebell hammer curls up to your collar bone and lower it down slowly.

Step 1: Position Your Feet

Stand with your feet parallel to your hips. Your posture should be firm and steady. Some individuals, however, like to practice this workout while sitting on a bench with their feet on each side. While this position is acceptable, you keep your posture upright and avoid slouching or slumping.

Step 2: Pick Up The Dumbbells

Grab and hold a dumbbell in each hand, and your thumbs should be wrapped around the handles, all while your palms are facing your body. The dumbbells must be placed near your thighs, with your elbows straight.

Choose a heavy dumbbell that pushes you to your limits, but don’t put too much weight that you have to strain to curl it up, or it can become too difficult to handle. A too-heavy dumbbell might cause injury. Don’t force yourself to lift a heavy dumbbell — particularly if you have back issues.

Step 3: Brace Your Core and Maintain Your Posture

Brace your torso by contracting your core muscles or your abdomen. Pull your shoulder blades back and ensure your neck and spine are straight. Maintain this for the length of the workout, and avoid slouching or arching your back.

Step 4: Bend Your Elbows Lightly

One of the essential parts of the exercise is the tension in your biceps. But for your biceps to have the best strain for muscle growth, you need to bend your elbows lightly before starting the exercise.

Step: 5: Curl The Dumbbell

Take a big breath, and then let it all out. Bend your elbow progressively until the dumbbell nearly reaches your shoulder, being cautious not to allow your elbow to travel forward. Only your forearm should shift while your wrist remains straight.

As you elevate the weights, your palm should face your body, and you should not slump your shoulders. Also, it’s worth noting that you may either lift both dumbbells simultaneously or alternate between arms, rising and lowering one dumbbell before moving on to the other.

Step 6: Hold And Squeeze

After raising the dumbbell, you should hold it at the high point of the movement and hold it there for a moment. All while squeezing your hand to flex your bicep, adding more tension to the exercise. You’ll benefit more from keeping your muscles under tension so focus on the concentric and eccentric movements rather than the start and end positions. 

Step 7: Lower The Dumbbell

Inhale and take a deep breath in. Straighten your arm smoothly to return the dumbbell to its initial position while keeping your back straight. However, allowing the weight to fall back to your side is not enough to strengthen your muscles. Lower it carefully while maintaining control the entire time. That’s one rep. Continue with the reps to complete the recommended set.

3 Hammer Curl Benefits

1. Improves Grip Strength

When executing hammer curls, your wrist and finger flexors are also engaged. The chore of gripping the dumbbells benefits them. The more repetitions you do of the dumbbell hammer curl, the harder these muscles have to fight to hold your hand locked, and the more conditioned they become.

2. Build Bigger Biceps

Because the large muscle groups on the front of your upper arm are being strained, your biceps must adapt to the resistance by becoming stronger and larger. Size gains in the brachialis and brachioradialis will push up on the biceps, causing it to “bulge” or seem larger.

3. Stronger Muscles

When practicing dumbbell hammer curls, your biceps is the largest muscle exercised, and the brachioradialis does a lot of work. The movement of your hands permits the brachioradialis, while being smaller than your biceps, to contribute more to the upward motion of the curl than typical curl workouts.

Common Hammer Curl Mistakes to Avoid

Utilizing Momentum 

With this workout, using momentum your capability to develop strength. Swinging movements may also increase your risk of injury since you lose control when momentum takes over.

Using momentum frequently indicates that you are lifting too much weight.

Floating Elbows

It’s simple to let the elbows’ float’ away from the torso. While this works other muscles in the exercise, such as the deltoids, the more other muscles you stimulate, the less the biceps are targeted.

Curling Too Fast 

The hammer curl has a restricted range of motion. Thus it’s tempting to speed through this workout and execute fast movements, particularly during the descending portion.

Slowing down and taking your time provides an extra challenge since you must activate the muscles for longer.

Shortening The Range of Motion 

There may be instances when you don’t do the full range of motion when doing hammer curls. Trainers highly advise resisting the temptation as much as possible as stopping too short at the bottom or top could slow the progression of the muscles.

Hammer Curl Muscles Worked

  • Biceps Brachii
  • Brachialis
  • Brachioradialis

The biceps brachii is the most noticeable muscle on the front of the arm and the most superficial flexors. Because the biceps brachii spans both the elbow and the shoulder joints, it generates movement in both. It also develops brachialis or the elbow flexor muscles, which are on the bottom section of the upper arm bone and join to the ulna, the major inner bone of the forearm. 

The brachioradialis starts on the upper arm around the elbow joint and ends on the forearm just before the wrist. Not only does it help to flex the elbow, but it also adds apparent bulk to the front of the forearm, and it overall flexes the elbow and aids in the flexibility of the shoulder.

Hammer Curl vs Bicep Curl

Hammer Curl vs Bicep Curl, which builds bigger arms? The dumbbell hammer curl targets many muscles more efficiently, all while turning your wrist! However, you don’t have to sacrifice larger arms if you substitute a traditional bicep curl with hammer curls with your strength training.

Your biceps will appear bigger due to the extra muscles you worked. Add to that the fact that hammer curls cause less strain on your elbow tendons than bicep curls, and you have a compelling case for performing hammer curls.

With Biceps Curl’s traditional supinated grip, it effectively activates the short-head of the bicep brachii to maximize the peak of your biceps muscles. As for the Hammer Curl, it recruits the long head of the biceps brachii and brachialis predominantly and focuses more on enhancing the overall arm muscle thickness and strength. This makes you more prepared for bigger compound exercises.

Neither is actually superior than the other as the targeted muscles are different, thus, integrating both exercises into your power arm routine will make you pop those Popeye guns in a shorter time. 

Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs

For Improved Strength

Hammer Curls are an excellent approach to improving overall strength in your upper arms and boosts muscle endurance. If you want to do alternate Hammer Curls, do 15 repetitions for each arm for three sets. If you’ve already done it enough times to feel the weight you’ve set is already light, you’re improving your overall strength.

For Bigger Biceps

At least eight sets are required to accelerate muscle growth. Hence, you’d need to do eight sets of bicep curls to appropriately stress your biceps and cause them to grow in size significantly. Each set should include five to twelve repetitions.

For Better Mobility

Hammer curls improve upper arm strength and wrist stability if you do the proper form of the exercise. Lift your weights to your shoulders by squeezing your biceps. Maintain a down and back posture with your shoulders and slowly return your weights to your sides. Repeat for a total of two or three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

Hammer Curl Variations

There are a few alternatives to customize or modify hammer curls to suit your fitness level better. If you see your technique slipping or you’re struggling to complete all of your reps, it’s best to start with lesser weights. Regardless, here are some additional hammer curl variations:

Preacher Hammer Curl

Some individuals execute seated hammer curl on a preacher bench. A preacher bench is an angled, cushioned armrest that lets you isolate the upper arm and lift more weight while targeting the biceps.

The starting position is to adjust the cushioned armrest so that its top is slightly above your armpits. Place your upper arms on the pad, stretch your elbows, and secure the weights with palms facing each other.

Alternating Hammer Curl

Try alternating hammer curls if you try the hammer curl but find it difficult to maintain proper form. Instead of elevating both arms simultaneously, lift the right arm first, lower it, then the left, and then continue alternating sides. You can also perform kettlebell hammer curls through this approach. 

Hammer Curl Power Squat

If it’s already too easy, add a squat to this technique to make it more challenging. This allows you to work your legs, glutes, and your arms. Drop into a squat stance after lifting the weights to your shoulders. Hold for a few seconds, then stand back up and return the weights to your side.

Incline Hammer Curl

Another approach is to perform the hammer curl on a sitting Incline Bench, thus performing incline hammer curls. While sitting, the initial posture positions your arms behind the hips and helps prevent the involvement of your shoulder. Otherwise, the same motions are used.

Hammer Curl Alternatives

The hammer curl is not the only workout that can be used to strengthen the brachialis muscle. Apart from hammer curls, several more workouts could be used to strengthen the brachialis. These exercises are great if you’re seeking hammer curl alternatives.

Incline Bench Single-Arm Hammer Curl

This is another excellent workout that can be substituted for normal hammer curls. You can perform the exercise in three ways: overhand curls, hammer-include curls, and supinated curls. An overhand and neutral grip targets the brachialis muscles, while the bicep brachii is targeted by an underhand grip.

Barbell Spider Curls

This is a fantastic bicep workout that will fully sculpt your biceps. This works primarily on the long head and, thanks to the EZ bar, also targets the brachialis. It will assist you in developing that magnificent peak in your biceps. We also have a complete guide on 10 Spider Curl Alternatives that can greatly help you to achieve your goals.

Barbell Reverse Grip Curls

You must significantly train the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles if you want a massive arm. These muscles will make your arms appear larger and stronger. Reverse grip curls are a terrific approach to target these muscle groups.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Elbow flexors
  • Biceps brachii
  • Brachioradialis 
  • Brachialis

Having strong biceps helps with lifting and carrying large things in everyday activities as it also aids other arm-based activities, such as shutting a door or moving things toward or across your body.

Hammer curls increase grip strength by engaging the brachioradialis muscle in your forearm. Grip strength is crucial for doing complex workouts such as pull-ups and deadlifts.

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