Cable Rope Hammer Curls

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Cable Rope Hammer Curls

In this post you will learn how to perform cable rope hammer curls safely and effectively in order to develop your biceps muscles even more.

Different wrist positions produce differing effects on the arm flexors, and apply stress differently to the elbows. One of the alternatives is to keep your thumbs up all the time, in the hammer curl. This uses a parallel grip, which is probably the most natural for the curling motion.

Using a rope allows you to place your hands in a neutral position (hammer grip). As in other cases, this increases the effort made by the other elbow flexors and the long head of the biceps. Turning your hands inward (supination) at the end of the movement makes the movement more complicated, but the effect on the biceps is barely noticeable.

How to Perform Cable Rope Hammer Curls?

STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Grasp a rope handle attached to the low pulley of a cable machine, with your palms neutral (facing each other), knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the rope right at its ends, not higher up, to ensure that you can perform the exercise through a full range of motion. In other words, hold the rope with your thumbs up against the rubber stoppers.

Cable Rope Hammer Curls

Cable Rope Hammer Curls

EXECUTION (ACTION): Flex your arms and bend your elbows powerfully, keeping them stationary at your sides as you do so. Bring your hands all the way up to your shoulders (as close as you can without shifting your elbows forward) and pause for a second at the top. Lower the rope following the same path used for the upward movement. Stop lowering just short of fully extending your arms to keep constant tension on the muscles. Go right into the next repetition.

Additional Tips & Key Points

  • Attach a rope to a low pulley cable and stand 1 to 2 feet in front of the weight stack.
  • Look for your elbows to stay close to your body all the time.
  • Look for your head to stay upright and your shoulders blades to stay down.
  • Avoid extending your back during the curl; your spine should remain neutral.
  • Avoid moving your elbows too far away from your body.
  • Escape from any torso rotation.
  • Avoid letting the rope down in an uncontrolled manner during eccentric phase.

Cable Rope Hammer Curl Variations

  • Perform this exercise one arm at a time by holding both ends of the rope in just one hand.

Replacement Exercises – Substitutes

All three versions are very similar as far as their muscle focus; try them all to discover which one is the most comfortable and works the best for you.

Hammer preacher curls

Hammer preacher curls

  • Hammer curls using weight plates
Hammer Curls Using Weight Plate

Hammer Curls Using Weight Plate

Muscles Involved in Cable Rope Hammer Curls

  • Main muscles: Brachioradialis
  • Synergists: Brachialis, Biceps Brachii
  • Stabilizers: Deltoid (Anterior), Trapezius (Upper and Middle), Levator Scapulae, Flexor Carpi Radialis, Extensor Carpi Radialis

Closing Thoughts

This variation of the biceps curl also works your forearms, and is easier on your wrists, which remain in a more natural position. This isolation biceps exercise focuses more on the brachialis and brachioradialis (and less on the biceps).

Whether or not you need to do this exercise will be dictated by the size of your brachialis. If your brachialis is the same size as your biceps (biceps brachii), then there is no point in doing this exercise. If your brachialis is underdeveloped compared to your biceps, than cable rope hammer curls will be very useful. They could even replace classic curls until you build up your brachialis.

Finally, your arm will be stronger when you use a neutral grip compared to when you use a supinated grip. So you will normally be able to use heavier weights when doing cable rope hammer curls (or standing dumbbell hammer curls) than when doing classic curls. You just need to be careful nor to reduce your range of motion too much because you are using a weight that is too heavy.

If you are recovering from a shoulder or elbow injury, the barbell curl may be prohibited but the hammer curl (with thumbs up, using dumbbells or cable) may produce no problems. This is not to say that the hammer curl works the biceps to the same degree as does the barbell curl. But if you cannot do a regular curl, the hammer version is a great alternative.

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