If you want bigger arms, chances are you will have to do some dumbbell hammer curl. This easy and simple exercise can be performed by anyone and benefit everyone.
As the name suggests, the dumbbell hammer curl needs only a pair of dumbbells to be executed.
After reading this, you will know:
- How to perform a dumbbell hammer curl
- Mistakes to avoid
- Variations of the dumbbell hammer curl
- Muscles worked
- Difference between hammer curl and bicep curl
- Benefits of the dumbbell hammer curl
How to Perform a Dumbbell Hammer Curl
This exercise is also known as the neutral grip dumbbell curl, or simple dumbbell curl. All you need is a pair of dumbbells.
- Stand tall, but do not lock your legs, with feet shoulder width. Hold one dumbbell at each hand with palms facing inwards, towards your thighs.
- Keep your elbows fixed at one position during the entire movement.
- Raise both your hands at the same time forward, but keep elbows fixed in that same position.
- Raise the dumbbells until your thumbs reach close to your shoulders, contracting the biceps on the way.
- Keep your core engaged at all times as well to prevent movement on your lower back as you lift the weights.
- Squeeze your biceps and pause for a second at the top of the movement.
- Lower the weights to original position, with dumbbells next to your thighs.
- That is one rep.
This should be a controlled movement, with only your forearms moving. Keep your grip constant at all times, engage your core not to use your back during the movement, and do not use the momentum of the shoulders or elbows to lift the weights.
At first, practice sets of 7-10 reps. As you get more comfortable and stronger, increase the number of reps, and only then add more weight.
Mistakes to Avoid
Using momentum is the most common mistake you will see in the gym. Not just with this exercise, but most exercises that require lifting dumbbells with your hands.
As mentioned before, the hammer dumbbell curl is a controlled movement. If you want to get bigger and stronger arms, lock in your elbow and shoulder, and lift the weight as prescribed above. Using momentum will take away the goal of the exercise. This usually means you are trying to lift a bigger weight than you should, so consider decreasing the weight of the dumbbells.
Elbows floating around are another mistake you should avoid. The hammer dumbbell curl is a simple exercise and has only, but a few guidelines. Keep your elbows tucked in and in a fixed position if you want to get the best result from this exercise.
Again, if your elbows move during the lifting, it probably means your dumbbells are too heavy for you.
Reps too fast are a no-go. The controlled movement of the hammer dumbbell curl should not be fast. Doing it fast will likely make you use the momentum of your body to lift the weights, which we already know is counterproductive.
Most people will also lower their weights faster than they lift, which is not how the exercise should be performed. Either way, curling your biceps too fast will not get the result intended. Consider increasing the weight of your dumbbells.
Variation of the Dumbbell Hammer Curl
There are a few variations of the dumbbell hammer curl that you can try out.
The alternating hammer curl does exactly the same movement. However, you should lift one dumbbell at a time, instead of both arms raising the weights together. This variation allows you to focus on your form in each arm and find out if there are any weaknesses.
If you need to get a bit extra work on your arms, try out the incline hammer curl variation. To do this, sit on an inclined bench and lower your arms on the side of your body, towards the floor. This variation stretches the top of your biceps and it allows for a greater range of motion.
Finally, you may also try a harder version of the hammer curl: the rope cable hammer curl. For this, you will need a cable machine, which will increase the level of resistance of your hammer curls throughout the entire movement. With the dumbbells, due to gravity, the resistance is lower the closer you reach to the top of the movement.
Muscles Worked – Dumbbell Hammer Curl
The dumbbell hammer curl is an isolation movement, which means it targets the muscles on your biceps and your forearm. More specifically:
- Biceps brachii
- Brachialis – runs across the elbow joint and it is smaller than the brachioradialis.
- Brachioradialis – runs from your wrist, across the inside portion of your elbow and into your upper arm bone
The brachii is the longer head of your biceps.
Difference Between Dumbbell Hammer Curl and Bicep Curls
You know how to do dumbbell hammer curls, but how is it different from bicep curls? The only difference is in the grip, how you hold the dumbbell.
While with the hammer you hold with dumbbells facing your thighs, in the bicep curl you hold both dumbbells with palms facing forward. This simple change already engages a different set of muscles and, therefore, has different results.
In reality, both exercises are great to build your biceps. The bicep curl will focus more on your biceps than the hammer and it allows for a deeper stretch at the bottom of the movement, leading to faster muscle growth.
However, the dumbbell hammer curl engages more muscles, builds better grip strength which is necessary for lifting weights, and it will shape your forearm, giving you a nice aesthetic look altogether, while also working on your biceps.
Benefits of the Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Having stronger and bigger biceps have a couple of benefits.
Aesthetically speaking, you will look good with bigger biceps as they translate to being a strong person. Having stronger biceps will give the appearance of a more athletic look.
Strong biceps will also help you in your daily life. You will need it to lift heavy objects and to carry them as well. It will also help you to do other movements such as closing doors, pulling objects towards you or across your body.
Perhaps one of the best benefits of doing dumbbell hammer curls is that you will increase your grip strength. This will translate into better lifts altogether for other compound movements such as deadlifts, pull-ups and barbell rows.