How To Do Dumbbell Hammer Curls With the Proper Form
By Space Coast Daily // September 6, 2021
Dumbbell hammer curls are a tremendous muscle-building exercise because they blast your biceps in addition to your brachialis and brachioradialis. This ensures that you’re building proportional arm muscles and not just big biceps.
But to get the best results from the DB hammer curl, you need to lift with the proper form.
Well, you’re in luck. After talking with various strength and conditioning experts, we crafted a detailed guide on how to do hammer curls with the optimal bicep-building technique.
How To Do a Hammer Curl
1. Stand up straight and hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with a neutral grip.
2. Lift the dumbbells toward your shoulders while keeping your elbows as still as possible.
3. Squeeze your biceps and forearms as they make contact with each other at the top of the rep.
4. Hold the contraction for a second.
5. Slowly lower the weights down until they’re back by your sides.
6. Do 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps in total for hypertrophy.
Hammer Curls Muscles Worked
The dumbbell hammer curl primarily works the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles. The biceps are situated on the front of your arm and are responsible for flexing the elbow as well as supinating the forearm. So in this regard, DB hammer curls are good for the biceps but not optimal because you’re not getting the all-important forearm supination by using a neutral grip.
However, this is actually a good thing because curling with a neutral grip puts the brachialis in a very strong position. The brachialis is a powerful elbow flexor that lies beneath the biceps anatomically. As such, when you develop this muscle, you can actually improve your biceps peak and make your arms look wider because the brachialis pushes your biceps out as it grows bigger.
Similarly, building your brachioradialis gives you thicker forearms and helps you to perform more reps on crucial compound movements like barbell rows, pull-ups, and lat pulldowns.
Hammer Curl Variations
Performing the standing hammer curl with dumbbells ensures that both of your arms receive equal work because you have to lift each weight independently. Ultimately, this can help you to develop a more symmetrical and aesthetic upper body because you’re less likely to develop muscular imbalances in your biceps.
Yet, other variations of bicep hammer curls have their place in any good hypertrophy training program. So make sure to try the different exercises to see which one works best for you.
Barbell Hammer Curl
To perform hammer bicep curls with a barbell, you’ll need a triceps bar that you can hold with a neutral grip. Most good gyms already have these, but you can also get them fairly cheaply online these days.
Begin by loading some weight onto either side of the bar. Then, hold the handles with a neutral grip and curl the bar toward your chest while keeping your shoulders and elbows stationary. Squeeze your biceps and forearms at the top of the movement, and finish the rep by lowering the bar in a controlled manner until your elbows are extended. Again, you’ll want to stick to sets of 6-12 reps on this hammer curl exercise.
The barbell version enables you to overload your biceps with plenty of resistance so that you can gain strength and stimulate new muscle growth.
The downside is that your stronger arm might dominate the exercise, meaning that you’re more likely to develop muscle imbalances.
You can also superset the barbell hammer curl with lying triceps extensions to save time because they both use the same equipment and allow you to lift similar amounts of weight.
Seated Hammer Curl
The seated hammer curl has a lower core stability requirement than the standing hammer curl because you don’t need to flex your abs as hard when you’re sitting down with your back against the bench.
This enables you to lift heavier weights and therefore overload your biceps and brachialis with more resistance.
You can also do alternating hammer curls when you’re sitting down if you want to perform more reps per set. Since each arm is resting for a few seconds while your opposite bicep is working, you’ll naturally be able to smash out more repetitions because you’ll be less fatigued.
Incline Hammer Curl
Incline hammer curls are the neutral-grip variation of incline dumbbell curls. This naturally means that they’re an excellent exercise for training the long head of the biceps because they have you curl with your arms behind your hips, which shifts more resistance onto the outer muscle fibers of your biceps.
Just be sure that you don’t set the incline of the bench too high. The sweet spot is somewhere between 45 and 60 degrees because it allows you to get a proper biceps stretch while still getting a good contraction.
If you were to set the incline too low, then you’d get a decent stretch, but you’d also get a really poor contraction, which completely defeats the purpose of the dumbbell hammer curl exercise.
In Conclusion: Are Hammer Curls Good for Building Muscle?
No impressive physique is complete without a bulging pair of biceps. And since hammer curls enable you to lift heavier than regular biceps curls (due to the neutral grip), they’re an excellent exercise for building up your arms with new muscle mass.
The most important thing is that you do proper hammer curls by using good form.
All of the movement should come from the elbow joint, not from your shoulders. Gripping the dumbbells tightly can actually make you stronger because it radiates tension up the kinetic chain from your hands to your forearms and, ultimately, to your biceps.
Perform 3-5 sets of hammer curls twice a week to get the best results, and be sure to do other bicep exercises as well to work your muscles from different angles.