The brachialis contributes to upper arm thickness to a greater extent than the biceps. Common mistakes, like gripping the dumbbells in the middle or using momentum to move the weight, can hamper your form and lead to injuries.
Today we’ll show you how to do hammer curls with perfect form, whether you’re using dumbbells, cables, or resistance bands. Our team will also share some tips on how to target your biceps from new angles and what mistakes to avoid when doing a hammer curl.
As the primary flexor of the elbow joint, it plays a key role in arm movement. Due to its large cross-sectional area, the brachialis is stronger than the biceps brachial and other surrounding muscles.
During this exercise, the brachialis acts as a synergism, allowing you to curl the weight up toward the shoulder. It also keeps your elbow stable during rapid flexion and extension, such as when you’re doing hammer curls.
Over time, this isolation movement may help improve grip strength and wrist stability. Below you’ll find the exact steps to perform hammer curls like a pro.
Keeping your elbows tucked, curl the weight up as far as possible with a slow and controlled motion. Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoiding swinging your arms or hips.
The advantage of performing this exercise from a seated position is that it takes the pressure off your back and prevents you from swinging your torso and hips. We have dozens of videos on our blog, so check them out to learn proper technique.
Start with a lighter weight that allows you to perform about 12 reps with correct form. The following rules apply to all variations of the hammer curl, whether you’re using cables, dumbbells, or resistance bands.
These mistakes not only affect your ability to build size and strength but may also put you at risk for injury. Moving too fast is just as bad as it reduces the time under tension, limiting your ability to grow.
Squeeze your muscles at the top of the movement for one second or so and then drop the weight back slowly. While it’s important to achieve full ROM, you should not move the dumbbell past the tension point.
Doing so will allow your bicep and forearm to rest, making the exercise less effective. Changing how you perform this movement — or any exercise for that matter — is the best way to avoid strength plateaus.
Kettle bells hammer curls, for instance, are more challenging compared to the dumbbell version and may help improve shoulder stability. Incline seated curls, on the other hand, allow you to better isolate the brachialis and the long head of the biceps.
Below we’ll show you how to perform some of the best hammer curl variations to get the mo stout of your training session. Bring the weight down with a slow, controlled motion and repeat with your left arm.
If you’re using a cable machine, set up the pulley close to the floor and attach a handle. Both versions work the same muscles as the standard hammer curl, but they put more emphasis on the brachialis and the long head of the biceps.
Resistance bands are extremely versatile, allowing you to work your muscles from different angles. Despite their small size, these accessories can be a viable option to dumbbells and gym machines.
They’re particularly effective for upper body exercises, like unilateral rows and lateral pull-downs, reports a 2017 study published in the European Journal of Sport Science. Bend your elbows and bring the band up to your shoulders without moving the upper arms.
This hammer curl variation engages the biceps, brachialis, and forearms, as well as the smaller muscles in your hands and wrist. With regular practice, it can increase forearm and grip strength while adding size to your upper arms.
When using kettle bells for hammer curls, your arms are under constant tension throughout the movement. Bend your elbows and lift the kettle bells to your shoulders without flexing your wrist.
One that’s too heavy can lead to wrist injuries and make it harder to maintain good form. Whether you’re using dumbbells, kettle bells, or resistance bands, this bicep curl variation can take your gains to a whole new level.
Plus, it provides 34% of the daily recommended calcium intake and contains no GMOs, gluten, or artificial colors As discussed earlier, it also targets the brachialis and forearms, as well as the muscles around your wrist, allowing for better gains and increased grip strength.
For best results, perform hammer curls as part of a well-rounded workout that also includes these bicep exercises. Aim for 10 to 15 reps per set and alternate between kettle bells, dumbbells, and cables to keep your muscles guessing.
Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSI DLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
Staring at your throbbing bicep muscles as you push out another curl is a rite of passage for most gym goers, but eventually everyone has to move on. If you go straight to dips, under the misguided belief that you need to start working on your triceps, then you’re missing out an important muscle that sits between your biceps and triceps that'll really make your guns really pop.
While ruminated (underhand) bicep curls will help you improve the peak of your bicep, hammer curls will improve the thickness and overall strength of the arm and the forearm. Luckily for you, hammer curls aren't difficult to master, which is why you should accept nothing less than perfect form.
When you’re doing a hammer curl you’ll predominantly be working the long head of the bicep brachial as well as the brachialis. “A conventional, ruminated bicep curl, will improve the peak of your bicep, because of the increased activation of the short head of the bicep brachial,” says Buck ton, “but a hammer curl is more about increasing the thickness and the overall development and strength of the arm and the forearm, which is going to assist more with bigger compound exercises where there's a more of a pronated grip like pull-ups or wide grip pull-downs.”
A muscle that stretches from just above the shoulder joint to the elbow and helps to control the motion of both. A small muscle that sits just underneath the long and short head of your bicep brachial.
To help you get to grips with proper form, we got Buck ton to break the movement down into its individual components. Start by sitting on a bench with the back setup in the upright position and two dumbbells at your sides.
You can choose to do hammer curls standing, but you’re only going to increase the chance of performing the exercise with a swinging movement, which is best avoided. While sitting, keep your elbows tight to your sides and pull your shoulders back so that you’re less tempted to use your deltoid.
With your arms fully extended and in a neutral position (so your hands are facing each other) curl the dumbbells until your thumbs are near your shoulders. While there are benefits to both fast and slow reps, beginners are going to benefit most from spending time under tension, so try counting to two during the concentric (lifting) and eccentric (lengthening) part of the movement.
Commonly, people are usually either using their momentum to lift the dumbbells or they’re shortening the reps and not working all the muscle fibers they could. “I would say swinging the dumbbell is probably the most common error you see with hammer curls,” says Buck ton.
“Trying to use momentum to lift is normally caused by people choosing weights that are too heavy for them. If you’re struggling to stop yourself from swinging the dumbbells, you may find that using cables can help you to control the weight and engage yourbrachialis and long head more.
Performing hammer curls with dumbbells is definitely going to help you to build some of those stabilizing muscles that come in handy when you’re working on other compound exercises. So you’ve mastered the 'simple', seated hammer curl and now you’re looking for a way to make the exercise more challenging.
Don’t worry, we have you covered with these two variations that will both isolate the brachialis and long head and give you a deeper and more intense workout. “Being in that position will also minimize the amount of deltoid involvement you're going to get as well, so you're getting a real isolation on the brachialis and the long head.”
Best Hammer Curls Workouts to Build Bigger Biceps Now you know how to do hammer curls, you’ll want a workout to put them into, so Buck ton has come up with three superset workouts that'll help you build bulging biceps and improve your pulling strength at the same time.
For Buck ton’s post-exhaustion supersets you’ll need to perform a compound exercise and then follow these up with a variation of hammer curls, which will serve to isolate and target the bicep brachial. “Post exhaustion supersets are tough, and your muscles will be angry with you for inflicting so much pain on them,” says Buck ton, “but they’re perfect for bringing up lagging muscle groups and breaking through plateaus”
Wide-overhand bent-0ver barbell row: The perfect compound exercise to strengthen the entire posterior chain. Stimulates the lats, traps, rhomboids, rear Delta and of course the biceps and forearms.
Close neutral-grip seated cable row: A compound exercise that shifts the focus to your middle back, allowing you to focus more on scapular retraction and building a ‘thicker’ back. Daniel Davies is a staff writer at Men’s Health UK who has been reporting on sports science, fitness and culture for various publications for the past five years.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. Exercise Advice : Take a shoulder width stance and hold a kettle bell in one hand with an overhand neutral grip (palm facing in).
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