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

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It doesn’t take a lot to persuade most individuals within the health club to curve. In order for you a powerful physique, an intense pump, and extra energy within the health club, you’ll discover time to do some curls.

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However with so many curl variations, which motion do you choose? And the way usually must you do them? How do you match curls into an already packed coaching program? These are the questions it’s good to deal with, so you can also make a extra knowledgeable resolution 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 be taught sufficient to start constructing your arms effectively and successfully. 

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Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl

Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl Variations

These two workouts might seem practically an identical, however the comparatively delicate distinction in grip is accountable 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 robust elbow flexor, separate from the “important” 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 may 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 vital outcomes, as a result of the biceps brachii remains to be stimulated to develop whatever the grip used, but it surely’s price a strive. 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
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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) On account of this, you’ll often really feel a distinction in your arm rigidity 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 Rigidity

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 tissues right into a barely “rested” place, moderately than an extended stretched place.

To create extra rigidity within the backside place of a hammer curl, you possibly can carry out the train seated for an incline hammer curl, which brings your arms behind your physique. You possibly can create much more rigidity 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, essentially, comparable. They require you to maneuver a weight with strict elbow flexion, which brings the load out of your hip-level to near-shoulder top.

Focused Biceps Coaching

The biceps curl and hammer curl are each isolation workouts, 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, includes each the shoulder and elbow joints.

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

long-haired person in gym doing dumbbell curl
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If you happen to 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 a typical biceps curl, one key distinction will stand above anything.

Hand Place

A change as seemingly easy as turning your hand by some means won’t appear like an enormous deal, but it surely’s accountable for figuring out which arm muscle tissues are recruited and the way arduous 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 delicate, 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 accountable 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 workouts very efficient for supersetting collectively, performing a set of biceps curls till muscular fatigue after which instantly performing extra repetitions with hammer curls.

Tips on how to Do the Hammer Curl

Rise up holding a pair of dumbbells at arms-length, along with your fingers going through in to your heart. 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 gradual lifting speeds. (6) As a substitute of performing hammer curls with a strong, explosive motion, decelerate to maintain that muscle below extra constant rigidity. 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 will help energy features.
  • This train targets muscle tissues not usually 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 quite a lot of actions.

Kettlebell Curl

That is the most typical means so as to add biceps coaching to a kettlebell exercise. By grabbing the kettlebell by the “horns,” your fingers 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, typically known as a pinwheel curl, strikes the load throughout your physique as a substitute of shifting instantly ahead. This motion reduces the vary of movement, which helps you to use a barely heavier weight.

The crossbody curl is commonly carried out alternating arms with every repetition, however may be carried out with one arm at a time for much more time below rigidity.

Tips on 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 fingers stage along with your palms going through up as you curl the weights towards your shoulders. Don’t permit your elbows to return ahead within the prime place. Decrease to a full extension.

Kind Tip: Use a gradual 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. It will place the biceps below rigidity in the course of the reducing section and permit robust drive manufacturing when lifting the load.


  • The biceps curl emphasizes the biceps brachii by itself, with restricted involvement from different muscle tissues.
  • 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 traditional supinated biceps curl may be tailored to many various actions, adjusting vary of movement, muscular rigidity, and different variables to offer a unique muscle-building stimulus.

Dumbbell Preacher Curl

The preacher curl presents stability from the pad and prevents dishonest by eradicating the flexibility to swing the load. That makes this one of the strict and most biceps-intensive workouts round.

The stretch within the backside place may be excessive, relying in your flexibility. Cut back the danger of damage by working inside your personal efficient vary of movement and, if needed, 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 rigidity creates a better set off for muscle progress in comparison with dumbbells, which depend on leverage and gravity to supply 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.

Understanding the Finest Curl for Your Aim

The wonderful thing about this resolution 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 another way and yield very totally different outcomes. It’s extra like deciding for those who’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 favor. Nonetheless, there are only a few issues to think about.

For Energy

If you’re coaching primarily for energy, embrace extra hammer curls in your program. With the ability to get extra coaching quantity to the brachialis goes to provide you extra help in workouts 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 energy stimulus.

For Muscle Measurement

In case your purpose is physique-focused, work extra on supinated-grip biceps curls. It will take the muscle tissues by 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 features, whereas additionally ensuring you have got 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 you already know 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 stage.


  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 drugs175(4), 285–288. https://doi.org/10.1620/tjem.175.285
  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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jse.2011.04.030
  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. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2015.00215
  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 energy and conditioning analysis24(12), 3404–3414. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181f1598c
  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: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551630/
  6. Kulig, Okay., 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. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200102000-00004
  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 Harm Than Partial Vary of Movement in Elbow Flexion Train With Free Weights. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis31(8), 2223–2230. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000001562

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