What is hammer curl?

Also known as dumbbell hammer curl or DB hammer curl, a hammer curl is a variation of the bicep curl exercise. This is a strength training exercise that targets your forearms and biceps. As against a bicep curl where your arms face upwards, in a hammer curl exercise, your palms point towards each other. 

The DB hammer curl works on your brachialis (upper arm muscle) and the brachioradialis (forearm muscle).

How to hammer curl with proper form?

Merely knowing how to do hammer DB curl is not enough. To gain its benefits, you need to master the correct hammer curl form. 

Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to maintain the correct hammer curl workout. This is the traditional standing hammer curl exercise:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep a slight bend in your knees. Keep your chin tucked in throughout the movement. 
  2. Rotate your wrists so that each dumbbell points forward. The dumbbells should not be pointing towards your body.
  3. Squeeze your biceps and lift the weights to your shoulders by keeping your forearms vertical.
  4. Hold the weights for a few seconds before lowering them down. 
  5. This is one rep of the standing hammer curls.

Sets and reps of the bicep hammer curls: You can do 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps. 

Which are some variations of hammer curls?

Once you have perfected the traditional hammer curls, try these variations to progress your workout:

  1. Alternating hammer curls: As the name suggests, for doing alternating hammer curls, you need to lift one arm at a time. Making use of unilateral movement, this is a great exercise for improving your grip strength and muscle endurance. This is a standing dumbbell hammer curl exercise.

  1. Rope hammer curls: Also known as cable hammer curls or cable rope hammer curls, this exercise is done using a cable rope attached to a weight stack. In this exercise, you need to grasp the rope with a neutral grip and pull your arms up using your biceps. Remember that your biceps should touch your forearms. The rope hammer curls are a great exercise that allows for constant tension through the movement and works your biceps and forearms. Since cable hammer curls are done using a natural grip, you don’t need to exert excessive pressure on your elbows and wrists. 

  1. Cross body hammer curls: Also known as side hammer curls, this variation of the hammer curls targets your biceps while emphasising your forearms. This standing dumbbell hammer curls exercise differs from the traditional version in many ways. The direction of the palms, angle of the lift, and the targeted muscles are different in cross body hammer curls. To do the side hammer curls, you need to curl your arm in the usual way but instead of bringing it up towards your shoulder, you need to take it across your body to the opposite shoulder. 

  1. Preacher hammer curls: This exercise is done by positioning yourself against a preacher bench while keeping your upper arms pressed into the pad. The rest of the motions remain the same. Since in preacher hammer curls, there is a fixed range of motion, it allows for better biceps strength. This is a form of seated dumbbell hammer curls. 

  1. Seated hammer curls: The seated hammer curls are done while sitting on a flat exercise bench. You can also do this on an adjustable bench. Just make sure that it is placed at an angle of 90-degrees with the floor. The seated dumbbell hammer curls is an ideal exercise to stabilise your back and prevent movement in the lower back while lifting. 

  1. Barbell hammer curls: Instead of using dumbbells, barbell hammer curls are done using a tri-bar loaded with weights. This is a great exercise that isolates your biceps and builds strength and endurance. 

  1. Reverse hammer curls: This is a variation of the standard hammer curls where instead of lifting the weights with your palms facing upwards, your palms face down (pronated grip). Adding reverse hammer curls to your workout improves your strength and helps you lift heavier weights. 

What are the benefits of hammer curl?

A biceps hammer workout works in more ways than one while contributing to your overall fitness and health. Here are some of the most important benefits of hammer curls:

  • While the traditional bicep curl exercise targets your biceps brachii muscles, the hammer DB curl exercise through its rotating hand movement engages your forearms, elbows, and deltoids too.


  • Dumbbell hammer curl is a great exercise to improve your grip strength. It prepares you for lifting heavier weights and improving your workout performance.¬†

  • A hammer biceps workout gives you visibly larger arms and forearms and improves on the aesthetics.

  • Bicep hammer curls mimic your natural movements such as lifting and pulling. Regularly doing this improves your functionality.

  • One of the most important benefits of hammer curls is that it is easy to learn and practice.¬†

  • A benefit of hammer curl exercise is its many variations such as cable rope hammer curls and seated hammer curls. These can be adjusted depending on your fitness and flexibility levels and general health.

  • A hammer biceps workout requires a minimal set-up of a set of weights and some space. This makes it a great addition to your workout at home.

How to do hammer curls safely?

To prevent injuries and gain their benefits, it is essential to perfect the hammer curl form. Here is how you can do that:

  • Don‚Äôt swing the dumbbells up while doing the biceps hammer workout. This prevents putting tension and resistance on your muscles. Instead, lift the dumbbells in a straight line.
  • Grip the weights correctly by holding them in the centre.


As the final word, people who have a history of pain or injuries, must not start the hammer curl workout without consulting their doctor. The key to gaining the benefits of a biceps hammer workout is to keep challenging yourself through its variations. 

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