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

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

It doesn’t take a lot to persuade most individuals within the health club to twist. If you’d like a powerful physique, an intense pump, and extra power within the health club, 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 decide? And the way typically must you do them? How do you match curls into an already packed coaching program? These are the questions you could sort out, so you may make a extra knowledgeable determination and win a a method ticket to Armsville. 

To resolve it, let’s take a look at two traditional 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 study sufficient to start constructing your arms effectively and successfully. 

Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl

Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl Variations

These two workout routines could seem practically equivalent, however the comparatively refined distinction in grip is chargeable for a giant 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 completely supinated grip (palms up) emphasizes the biceps brachii. (1)

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

This anatomical trickery could 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 value a attempt. Hammer curls additionally recruit the brachioradialis, which is a comparatively bigger muscle working 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 brief head of the biceps, whereas a supinated grip prompts the lengthy head of the biceps muscle extra strongly. (2) As a consequence of this, you’ll normally 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 Pressure

The supinated grip places the biceps right into a barely longer stretched place. This is the reason you normally really feel tightness when your arm is absolutely straightened within the backside place. The neutral-grip place of the hammer curl places the muscle tissue right into a barely “rested” place, somewhat than an extended 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 possibly can 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, comparable. They require you to maneuver a weight with strict elbow flexion, which brings the burden 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). Any such motion is completely 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 tissue. This is the reason it’s essential to make use of strict kind and maintain your elbow close to your ribs while you curl.

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

When you swing the burden and let your elbow get away out of your torso while 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 anything.

Hand Place

A change as seemingly easy as turning your hand in some way won’t appear to be a giant deal, but it surely’s chargeable for figuring out which arm muscle tissue are recruited and the way laborious they’re labored.

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

This refined, but extremely efficient, change in grip isn’t in contrast to 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 just chargeable for elbow flexion, and never supination, it’s a comparatively stronger arm muscle. (5) This is the reason 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.

Learn how to Do the Hammer Curl

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

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

Kind Tip: The brachialis, which is focused by the hammer curl, responds very properly to sluggish lifting speeds. (6) As a substitute of performing hammer curls with a strong, explosive motion, decelerate to maintain that muscle beneath extra constant pressure. Take three seconds to twist 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 lets you use comparatively heavier weights, which may also help power good points.
  • This train targets muscle tissue not sometimes emphasised with different curl variations, significantly the brachialis and brachioradialis.

Hammer Curl Variations

The hammer curl is primarily outlined by utilizing a impartial grip or thumbs-up curling place. You possibly can hit your arms with some selection by utilizing the identical hand place with a wide range of actions.

Kettlebell Curl

That is the commonest method 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 could 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 referred to as a pinwheel curl, strikes the burden throughout your physique as a substitute of shifting straight ahead. This motion reduces the vary of movement, which helps you to use a barely heavier weight.

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

Learn how to Do the Biceps Curl

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

Hold your arms stage along 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 high place. Decrease to a full extension.

Kind Tip: Use a sluggish eccentric (decreasing section), taking as much as three seconds to increase your arms, however drive up powerfully and lift the burden in a single second. It will place the biceps beneath pressure through the decreasing section and permit robust pressure manufacturing when lifting the burden.


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

Biceps Curl Variations

The traditional supinated biceps curl could be tailored to many alternative actions, adjusting vary of movement, muscular pressure, and different variables to supply a special muscle-building stimulus.

Dumbbell Preacher Curl

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

The stretch within the backside place could be excessive, relying in your flexibility. Cut back the chance of harm by working inside your individual efficient vary of movement and, if crucial, avoiding full lockout with this train to cut 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 development in comparison with dumbbells, which depend on leverage and gravity to supply resistance.

The cable curl could be carried out with a wide range of handles, in addition to single-arm, for much more selection and development stimulus.

Understanding the Greatest Curl for Your Objective

The beauty of this determination is that you simply nearly can’t get it unsuitable. It’s not like selecting between a again squat or a entrance squat, that are carried out very in a different way and yield very completely different outcomes. It’s extra like deciding should you’re going to place the cereal or the milk within the bowl first. The tip result’s principally the identical, however you get to choose the order you like. Nevertheless, there are only a few issues to think about.

For Power

If you’re coaching primarily for power, embrace extra hammer curls in your program. Having the ability to get extra coaching quantity to the brachialis goes to present 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 should utilize heavier weights for a good better power stimulus.

For Muscle Measurement

In case your aim is physique-focused, work extra on supinated-grip biceps curls. It will take the muscle tissue via a better vary of motion, which is a significant key for hypertrophy. (7) Pairing one of these coaching with some hammer curls utilizing slower tempos will set off main arm good points, whereas additionally ensuring you’ve got bother lifting your toothbrush the following day.

Higher Curls for Higher Arms

Biceps coaching positively doesn’t need to be difficult, but it surely does need to be well-planned for optimum outcomes. Now that you recognize 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 following stage.


  1. Naito, A., Yajima, M., Fukamachi, H., Ushikoshi, Ok., 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 drugs175(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 brief 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 at hand place. Frontiers in physiology6, 215.
  4. Youdas, J. W., Amundson, C. L., Cicero, Ok. 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-. Out there from:
  6. Kulig, Ok., Powers, C. M., Shellock, F. G., & Terk, M. (2001). The consequences of eccentric velocity on activation of elbow flexors: analysis by magnetic resonance imaging. Drugs 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 Higher Muscle Harm Than Partial Vary of Movement in Elbow Flexion Train With Free Weights. Journal of power and conditioning analysis31(8), 2223–2230.

Featured Picture: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Positive Recharge
Positive Recharge
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