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HomeExerciseHammer Curls vs. Biceps Curls: The Battle for Larger Arms

Hammer Curls vs. Biceps Curls: The Battle for Larger Arms

It doesn’t take a lot to persuade most individuals within the fitness center to curve. If you would like a powerful physique, an intense pump, and extra power within the fitness center, you’ll discover time to do some curls.

out of focus person performing barbell curl with weights in focus
Credit score: Kzenon / Shutterstock

However with so many curl variations, which motion do you choose? And the way typically do you have to do them? How do you match curls into an already packed coaching program? These are the questions it’s worthwhile to deal with, so you may make a extra knowledgeable resolution and win a a method ticket to Armsville. 

To unravel it, let’s have a look at two basic biceps-building staples: the hammer curl, which is carried out with a impartial (thumbs-up) grip and the usual dumbbell biceps curl carried out with a supinated, or palms-up, grip. By ranging from sq. one, you’ll be taught sufficient to start constructing your arms effectively and successfully. 

Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl

Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl Variations

These two workout routines might seem almost equivalent, however the comparatively refined distinction in grip is liable for an enormous distinction in outcomes.

Muscle Recruitment

The operate of the biceps muscle is to create flexion (bending) on the elbow and supination (rotation) on the wrist. The thumbs-up place of the hammer curl avoids supination and extra particularly targets the brachialis and brachioradialis, whereas a totally supinated grip (palms up) emphasizes the biceps brachii. (1)

The brachialis is a powerful elbow flexor, separate from the “fundamental” biceps brachii on the entrance of the higher arm. The brachialis sits beneath the biceps, nearer to the bone. It’s believed that concentrating on the brachialis can have the impact of “pushing up” the biceps to make it seem bigger, not not like carrying shoe lifts to look taller.

This anatomical trickery might not yield important outcomes, as a result of the biceps brachii remains to be stimulated to develop whatever the grip used, but it surely’s price a attempt. Hammer curls additionally recruit the brachioradialis, which is a comparatively bigger muscle operating alongside the highest of the forearm and over the elbow joint, close to the decrease portion of the biceps.

Woman at home performing dumbbell curl
Credit score: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

The hammer grip additionally barely emphasizes the quick head of the biceps, whereas a supinated grip prompts the lengthy head of the biceps muscle extra strongly. (2) As a result of this, you’ll often really feel a distinction in your arm pressure when performing both motion. Each variations do work each heads of the biceps, however the emphasis is shifted barely from one to the opposite. 

Muscular Stress

The supinated grip places the biceps right into a barely longer stretched place. Because of this you often really feel tightness when your arm is totally straightened within the backside place. The neutral-grip place of the hammer curl places the muscle groups right into a barely “rested” place, quite than a protracted stretched place.

To create extra pressure within the backside place of a hammer curl, you may carry out the train seated for an incline hammer curl, which brings your arms behind your physique. You’ll be able to create much more pressure utilizing a supinated-grip curl by bringing your arms in entrance of the physique by performing a preacher curl or spider curl.

Train Similarities

These two dumbbell curls are, basically, related. They require you to maneuver a weight with strict elbow flexion, which brings the load out of your hip-level to near-shoulder peak.

Focused Biceps Coaching

The biceps curl and hammer curl are each isolation workout routines, which creates movement at one single joint (the elbow, on this case). One of these motion is totally different from a compound train, which creates movement at two or extra joints — the chin-up, for instance, entails each the shoulder and elbow joints.

By proscribing motion to a single joint, muscular stress is concentrated on the goal muscle and isn’t distributed considerably throughout a number of muscle groups. Because of this it’s essential to make use of strict kind and hold your elbow close to your ribs whenever you curl.

long-haired person in gym doing dumbbell curl
Credit score: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

For those who swing the load and let your elbow get away out of your torso whenever you curl, you create motion on the shoulder joint which may take activation away from the biceps muscle.

Method Variations

When watching a lifter performing a hammer curl and evaluating them to a lifter performing an ordinary biceps curl, one key distinction will stand above the rest.

Hand Place

A change as seemingly easy as turning your hand by some means may not appear like an enormous deal, but it surely’s liable for figuring out which arm muscle groups are recruited and the way exhausting they’re labored.

With a thumbs-up hand place, your brachioradialis is put right into a mechanically stronger place to maneuver the load. The biceps brachii, whereas nonetheless recruited, is moved right into a much less robust pulling place because of the construction of the muscle, tendons, and surrounding buildings. (3)

This refined, but extremely efficient, change in grip isn’t not like performing pull-ups (with a palm-down grip) in comparison with performing chin-ups (utilizing a supinated or palm-up grip). On this case, once more, a easy change in hand place shifts the muscular emphasis out of your again (with pull-ups) to your biceps (with chin-ups). (4)

As a result of the brachialis is barely liable for elbow flexion, and never supination, it’s a comparatively stronger arm muscle. (5) Because of this many lifters can carry out hammer curls utilizing heavier weights than they use with biceps curls. This additionally makes the 2 workout routines very efficient for supersetting collectively, performing a set of biceps curls till muscular fatigue after which instantly performing further repetitions with hammer curls.

The best way to Do the Hammer Curl

Get up holding a pair of dumbbells at arms-length, together with your arms going through in to your middle. Pull your shoulders again and flex your abs. Pin your elbows to your sides.

Curl the load by driving your thumbs as much as the fronts of your shoulders. Pause briefly within the prime place earlier than straightening your arms again to the beginning place.

Kind Tip: The brachialis, which is focused by the hammer curl, responds very effectively to sluggish lifting speeds. (6) As an alternative of performing hammer curls with a robust, explosive motion, decelerate to maintain that muscle underneath extra constant pressure. Take three seconds to curve the weights to the highest place, pause for one second, decrease the weights in three seconds, and pause on the backside for one second.


  • The hammer curl means that you can use comparatively heavier weights, which might help power beneficial properties.
  • This train targets muscle groups not sometimes emphasised with different curl variations, notably the brachialis and brachioradialis.

Hammer Curl Variations

The hammer curl is primarily outlined by utilizing a impartial grip or thumbs-up curling place. You’ll be able to hit your arms with some selection by utilizing the identical hand place with quite a lot of actions.

Kettlebell Curl

That is the commonest means so as to add biceps coaching to a kettlebell exercise. By grabbing the kettlebell by the “horns,” your arms are put in a primarily thumbs-up place and also you get the advantages of a hammer curl utilizing a single kettlebell.

The kettlebell curl may be simply added as a sort of transition train between bigger actions, like squats or rows, or it may be used as a finisher for additional arm coaching after a excessive depth exercise.

Cross-body Curl

This single-arm hammer curl variation, generally known as a pinwheel curl, strikes the load throughout your physique as a substitute of transferring straight ahead. This motion reduces the vary of movement, which helps you to use a barely heavier weight.

The crossbody curl is usually performed alternating arms with every repetition, however may be carried out with one arm at a time for much more time underneath pressure.

The best way to Do the Biceps Curl

Get up holding a pair of dumbbells at arms-length, together with your palms going through ahead. Pull your shoulders again and flex your abs. Pin your elbows to your sides.

Maintain your arms degree together with your palms going through up as you curl the weights towards your shoulders. Don’t enable your elbows to come back ahead within the prime place. Decrease to a full extension.

Kind Tip: Use a sluggish eccentric (reducing section), taking as much as three seconds to increase your arms, however drive up powerfully and lift the load in a single second. This may place the biceps underneath pressure throughout the reducing section and permit robust power manufacturing when lifting the load.


  • The biceps curl emphasizes the biceps brachii by itself, with restricted involvement from different muscle groups.
  • This staple train is comparatively easy to be taught and program, making it an environment friendly train for any biceps-training program.

Biceps Curl Variations

The basic supinated biceps curl may be tailored to many various actions, adjusting vary of movement, muscular pressure, and different variables to offer a unique muscle-building stimulus.

Dumbbell Preacher Curl

The preacher curl gives stability from the pad and prevents dishonest by eradicating the power to swing the load. That makes this one of the strict and most biceps-intensive workout routines round.

The stretch within the backside place may be excessive, relying in your flexibility. Cut back the danger of harm by working inside your individual efficient vary of movement and, if crucial, avoiding full lockout with this train to scale back pressure on the biceps tendons.

Cable Curl

The cable curl is a high-tension variation that makes use of a cable pulley as a substitute of free weights. This fixed pressure creates a better set off for muscle progress in comparison with dumbbells, which depend on leverage and gravity to provide resistance.

The cable curl may be carried out with quite a lot of handles, in addition to single-arm, for much more selection and progress stimulus.

Figuring out the Greatest Curl for Your Aim

The wonderful thing about this resolution is that you simply nearly can’t get it mistaken. It’s not like selecting between a again squat or a entrance squat, that are carried out very otherwise and yield very totally different outcomes. It’s extra like deciding in case you’re going to place the cereal or the milk within the bowl first. The top result’s mainly the identical, however you get to select the order you like. Nevertheless, there are only a few issues to think about.

For Power

In case you are coaching primarily for power, embrace extra hammer curls in your program. With the ability to get extra coaching quantity to the brachialis goes to offer you extra help in workout routines like pull-ups, rows, and even deadlifts. As a result of the brachialis is a stronger arm muscle, you need to use heavier weights for a fair better power stimulus.

For Muscle Dimension

In case your objective is physique-focused, work extra on supinated-grip biceps curls. This may take the muscle groups via a better vary of motion, which is a significant key for hypertrophy. (7) Pairing such a coaching with some hammer curls utilizing slower tempos will set off main arm beneficial properties, whereas additionally ensuring you will have bother lifting your toothbrush the subsequent day.

Higher Curls for Higher Arms

Biceps coaching undoubtedly doesn’t should be difficult, but it surely does should be well-planned for max outcomes. Now that why and when to make use of every train, you’re in a greater place to design a routine that takes your arm exercises to the subsequent degree.


  1. Naito, A., Yajima, M., Fukamachi, H., Ushikoshi, Okay., Solar, Y. J., & Shimizu, Y. (1995). Electromyographic (EMG) research of the elbow flexors throughout supination and pronation of the forearm. The Tohoku journal of experimental medication175(4), 285–288.
  2. Jarrett, C. D., Weir, D. M., Stuffmann, E. S., Jain, S., Miller, M. C., & Schmidt, C. C. (2012). Anatomic and biomechanical evaluation of the quick and lengthy head elements of the distal biceps tendon. Journal of shoulder and elbow surgical procedure21(7), 942–948.
  3. Kleiber, T., Kunz, L., & Disselhorst-Klug, C. (2015). Muscular coordination of biceps brachii and brachioradialis in elbow flexion with respect handy place. Frontiers in physiology6, 215.
  4. Youdas, J. W., Amundson, C. L., Cicero, Okay. S., Hahn, J. J., Harezlak, D. T., & Hollman, J. H. (2010). Floor electromyographic activation patterns and elbow joint movement throughout a pull-up, chin-up, or perfect-pullup™ rotational train. Journal of power and conditioning analysis24(12), 3404–3414.
  5. Plantz MA, Bordoni B. Anatomy, Shoulder and Higher Limb, Brachialis Muscle. [Updated 2022 Feb 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Obtainable from:
  6. Kulig, Okay., Powers, C. M., Shellock, F. G., & Terk, M. (2001). The results of eccentric velocity on activation of elbow flexors: analysis by magnetic resonance imaging. Medication and science in sports activities and train33(2), 196–200.
  7. Baroni, B. M., Pompermayer, M. G., Cini, A., Peruzzolo, A. S., Radaelli, R., Brusco, C. M., & Pinto, R. S. (2017). Full Vary of Movement Induces Better Muscle Injury Than Partial Vary of Movement in Elbow Flexion Train With Free Weights. Journal of power and conditioning analysis31(8), 2223–2230.

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