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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’d like a powerful physique, an intense pump, and extra power within the fitness center, you’ll discover time to do some curls.

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However with so many curl variations, which motion do you decide? And the way usually do you have to do them? How do you match curls into an already packed coaching program? These are the questions you have to deal with, so you can also make a extra knowledgeable determination and win a a method ticket to Armsville. 

To unravel 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. 

Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl

Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl Variations

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

The brachialis is a powerful elbow flexor, separate from the “most 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 could have the impact of “pushing up” the biceps to make it seem bigger, not in contrast to sporting shoe lifts to seem taller.

This anatomical trickery could 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 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 quick head of the biceps, whereas a supinated grip prompts the lengthy head of the biceps muscle extra strongly. (2) Because 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 Pressure

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 mass right into a barely “rested” place, fairly than a protracted 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 may 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 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). This sort of motion is completely 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 limiting motion to a single joint, muscular stress is concentrated on the goal muscle and isn’t distributed considerably throughout a number of muscle mass. Because of this it’s vital to make use of strict type and hold your elbow close to your ribs if 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 if you curl, you create motion on the shoulder joint which might 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 normal biceps curl, one key distinction will stand above the rest.

Hand Place

A change as seemingly easy as turning your hand somehow may not appear like an enormous deal, but it surely’s chargeable for figuring out which arm muscle mass 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 load. The biceps brachii, whereas nonetheless recruited, is moved right into a much less sturdy pulling place because of the construction of the muscle, tendons, and surrounding constructions. (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) 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.

Learn how to Do the Hammer Curl

Get up holding a pair of dumbbells at arms-length, together with your fingers 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 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 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 can assist strength gains.
  • This train targets muscle mass 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 may hit your arms with some selection by utilizing the identical hand place with a wide range of actions.

Kettlebell Curl

That is the most typical manner so as to add biceps coaching to a kettlebell workout. 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 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 further arm coaching after a high intensity workout.

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 immediately ahead. This motion reduces the vary of movement, which helps you to use a barely heavier weight.

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

Learn how 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.

Preserve your fingers degree together with your palms going through up as you curl the weights towards your shoulders. Don’t permit your elbows to return 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 load in a single second. It will place the biceps beneath rigidity in the course of the decreasing section and permit sturdy power manufacturing when lifting the load.


  • The biceps curl emphasizes the biceps brachii by itself, with restricted involvement from different muscle mass.
  • 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 could be tailored to many alternative actions, adjusting vary of movement, muscular rigidity, and different variables to offer a distinct muscle-building stimulus.

Dumbbell Preacher Curl

The preacher curl gives stability from the pad and prevents dishonest by eradicating the flexibility to swing the load. 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. Scale back the chance of harm by working inside your personal efficient vary of movement and, if mandatory, 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 rigidity creates a higher set off for muscle growth 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 progress stimulus.

Figuring out the Finest Curl for Your Aim

The beauty of this determination is that you just virtually can’t get it improper. It’s not like selecting between a back squat or a entrance squat, that are carried out very otherwise and yield very completely different outcomes. It’s extra like deciding when 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. Nonetheless, there are only a few issues to contemplate.

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 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 use heavier weights for a good higher power stimulus.

For Muscle Dimension

In case your objective is physique-focused, work extra on supinated-grip biceps curls. It will take the muscle mass by way of a higher vary of motion, which is a serious key for hypertrophy. (7) Pairing any such coaching with some hammer curls utilizing slower tempos will set off main arm positive aspects, whereas additionally ensuring you might have bother lifting your toothbrush the following day.

Higher Curls for Higher Arms

Biceps coaching undoubtedly doesn’t need to be sophisticated, 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 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 parts 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, 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-. Out there from:
  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.
  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 power and conditioning analysis31(8), 2223–2230.

Featured Picture: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

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