Standing Hammer Dumbbell Curl
In this post you will find out how to perform alternating standing hammer dumbbell curls – a great dumbbell exercise in which you hold the dumbbell like a hammer. You should read through the exercise descriptions thoroughly so you know exactly what the exercise is going to accomplish, how to execute it properly and safely and how to best incorporate the exercise into your biceps workout.
The difference between a regular standing (seated) biceps curl and a standing (seated) hammer curl
The main difference between a regular biceps curl and a hammer curl is that you perform a hammer curl with the weights pointing up (parallel to your torso). In other words, you keep your thumbs facing towards you with your wrist in locked position throughout the movement with no supination. This targets the short head of your biceps and is an easy way to change up your routine.
This variation of the biceps curl also works your forearms, and is much easier on your wrists, which remain in a more natural position during the entire range of motion. Standing hammer dumbbell curls are therefore good if you have wrist pain. The exercise’s main target is the brachioradialis muscle which runs along the forearm but it also very effectively hits both heads of the biceps (short head in particular).
Standing Hammer Dumbbell Curl Exercise Instructions
Proper Form & Technique
STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Stand erect while holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides (against your outer thighs), with your palms facing in (your thumbs pointing forwards). Pull your shoulders back, keep your chest high, and your spine neutral. You should be facing forward with your head up.
MOVEMENT (ACTION): Curl the dumbbell in an upwards arc towards your shoulder until your forearm touches your biceps, without rotating your wrist. Keep your abs tense and your chest high throughout the whole movement. Pause for a second at the top of the movement before returning the weight to the start position under control. Work your arms alternately. Always keep your elbows in at your sides.
Useful Tips & Tricks
There are tips that will help you get even more out of that already amazing exercise.
- Stand upright with your legs shoulder-width apart and locked. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with palms facing your body. Let your arms hang down at either side of your body.
- With palms facing your body and the dumbbells in the “hammer” position, curl your left arm up toward your left shoulder. As the dumbbell approaches your left shoulder, begin curling your right arm up toward your right shoulder; at the same time, uncurl your left arm. Continue this alternate curl movement until you have completed your set.
- Squeeze the contraction for a count at the top before returning to the starting position.
- Always keep your elbows close to your side throughout the motion. If you move the out, you’re essentially doing a regular biceps curl, not a hammer curl. Also, 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 hard.
- Ensure than you don’t lean back – you risk damaging lower back as well as making the exercise less effective.
What to Avoid?
- Extending your back during the curl; your spine should remain neutral;
- Elevating your shoulders;
- Moving your elbows too far away from your body;
- Moving your head forwards;
- Letting the dumbbells down in an uncontrolled manner during the eccentric phase;
- Any torso rotation;
- Swinging the weights up;
Muscles Involved in Standing Hammer Dumbbell Curl
As opposed to supinated curls, which really target the biceps, this isolation exercise specifically targets the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles and does not stimulate the biceps as much.
Standing hammer dumbbells curls may be performed simultaneously with both hands, or one arm at a time, in alternating fashion (as described in this post). You can also try it seated on an incline bench to extend the range of possible movement. To isolate the biceps and brachialis even further, perform hammer curls on a preacher bench. Do all reps with one arm, then switch arms. Finally, if you are using a pulley, you can do hammer curls with a cable either unilaterally or bilaterally (rope attachment).
All 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.
Standing Hammer Dumbbell Curl Replacement Exercises
The following biceps exercises are among the most popular used by pro bodybuilders for adding mass and strength to your biceps.
Standing hammer dumbbell curl is a great isolation exercise that 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, then there is no point in doing this exercise. If your brachialis is underdeveloped compared to your biceps, than hammer curls will be very useful. They could even replace classic curls until you build up your brachialis.
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 hammer curls than when doing classic curls. You just need to be careful not to reduce your range of motion too much because you are using a weight that is too heavy.
Many bench pressers believe this is the best biceps exercise for improving overall upper-body strength. Strengthening the forearms by using hammer curls helps prevent pain that often occurs during strength training. We included the hammer curl in the biceps section, but it’s equally good for forearm development.