Standing Hammer Curl

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Standing Hammer Curl

Standing hammer curl is identical to the standing dumbbell curl, except that you start with your palms turned inward and keep them in that position throughout the movement. You don’t rotate your wrists. In addition to working the biceps, standing hammer curl works the elbow flexor muscles on the front of your arms (forearm muscles).

This variation of the biceps curl is much easier on your wrists, which remain in a more natural position. You can do the hammer curl seated or standing. You can also try it seated on an incline bench to extend the range of possible movement. Either way, keep your elbows close to your sides and your upper arms stable.

Standing hammer curls can be performed bilaterally (simultaneously) or in an alternating fashion (lifting one arm at a time).

Exercise Instructions – Perfect Standing Hammer Curl Technique

STARTING POSITION (SETUP): With your knees slightly bent and your feet about hip-width apart, grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your sides. Let your arms hang straight down from your shoulders, and turn your palms so they’re facing each other (neutral grip). In other words, your palms should be facing in toward your hips (thumbs pointing forwards).

Standing Hammer Curl

Standing Hammer Curl – One Arm At A Time (In Alternating Fashion)

Standing Hammer Curl - Two Arms At A Time

Standing Hammer Curl – Two Arms At A Time

EXERCISE EXECUTION (MOVEMENT): While maintaining the neutral grip, slowly raise (curl) the dumbbell in an upwards arc towards your shoulder, while the other stays at your side. Pause briefly in the position of full contraction, and then slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Work your arms alternately. As soon as that dumbbell is back in the starting position, slowly curl the dumbbell in the opposite arm up to a position of full contraction, while the other arm is held down at your side. One curl with both arms equals one rep.

You can also perform these by bringing the dumbbell across your body to the opposite shoulder (not shown).

Standing Hammer Curl Tips & Key Points to Remember

  • Palms should be facing the torso. This is a neutral grip (that’s why this grip is nicknamed Hammer grip).
  • Ensure that you don’t lean back – you risk damaging your lower back as well as making the exercise less effective.
  • Keep the elbows close to the body all the time. Don’t allow your elbows to travel forwards because your deltoids will take most of the strain and you won’t be working your biceps and forearms hard.
  • Keep the upper part of your arms pressed against your torso.
  • Holding the upper arm stationary, maintaining a neutral grip, curl the weight forward contracting the biceps; continue curling to a fully contracted position. Hold the contracted position for half of a second.
  • Your arm is stronger when you use a neutral, rather than a supinated, hand position. For this reason, you can use heavier weights with hammer curls than with classic supinated curls. Just be careful that the weight doesn’t result in a reduced range of motion.

Exercise Variations

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.

  • Seated Hammer Curl. Sit on the end of the bench. Hold a pair of dumbbells with your palms facing in. Without moving your upper arms, bend your right elbow to lift the dumbbell toward your shoulder. Stop when you’ve lifted the dumbbell as high as you can without moving your upper arm. Hold for a second at the top, then lower the dumbbell slowly with a controlled motion to the staring position. Repeat with the left arm. One curl with both arms equals one rep. You can also perform this exercise two arms at a time (see image).
Seated Hammer Curl

Seated Hammer Curl

  • Incline (45 Degrees) Hammer Curl. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, sit on an incline bench (45-degrees), keeping your head and upper body in full contact with the bench. Let your arms hang down, fully extended and perpendicular to the floor, palms facing in (neutral grip). Slowly curl the dumbbell up to your shoulder, keeping your upper arm stationary and your elbow pointed down. Hold for a second, then slowly lower your arm with a controlled motion to the starting position. Repeat with the other arm. One curl with both arms equals one repetition. You can also perform this exercise two arms at a time (see image).
Incline Hammer Curl

Incline Hammer Curl

  • Rope Cable Hammer Curl. Attach a rope to a low pulley cable. Hold the rope with your palms facing each other and your thumbs up against the rubber stoppers. While keeping your elbows in and your upper arms stationary, curl the rope up as far as possible without rotation your wrists. You can also try to perform this exercise one arm at a time by holding both ends of the rope in one hand.
Rope Cable Hammer Curl

Rope Cable Hammer Curl

Muscles Engaged in Standing Hammer Curl

This movement is great for working the forearm muscles and the brachioradialis – the muscle that joins the biceps to the forearms. It also works the biceps and develops the brachialis.

Primary muscles: Brachioradialis
Secondary muscles : Brachialis, extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor carpi ulnaris, palmaris longus, flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, biceps brachii

Replacement Exercises

Try these other great forearm exercises.

Closing Thoughts

The arm is strongest when the hand is in the neutral position, with the thumb pointed up. On the downside, however, the biceps cannot activate its full power in this position. Rather, the brachioradialis, along with the brachialis and forearm muscles, provide most of the arm’s strength when a neutral hand position is used.

Standing hammer curls have been a favorite of top bodybuilders for decades. Not only to help build strong biceps, but also help strengthen the forearms to a significant degree.

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