Hammer Curl Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures
How to Do Hammer Curls - Exercise Form Guide

Hammer Curl Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures

Exercise Name

Hammer Curl

Also Called

Neutral Grip Curls, Palms-In Curls

Primary Muscles

Secondary Muscles

Function

Endurance, Hypertrophy

Mechanics

Single Joint

Force

Pull

Required Equipment

Optional Equipment

Wrist Wraps, Chalk

Experience

Beginner

Rep Range

10-20

1-1-x-1

Variations

Seated Hammer Curl, Single Arm Hammer Curl, Band Hammer Curl, Multi-grip Barbell Hammer Curl, Kettlebell Hammer Curl

Alternatives

Pronated Dumbbell Curl, Supinated Dumbbell Curl, Pronated Barbell Curl

Hammer Curl Instructions with Pictures

1. Starting Position

  • Grasp the dumbbells firmly in both hands, leaving the palms turned in towards the midline of the body
Hammer Curl Grip

Note how hand is slightly "choked up" on the dumbbell handle. It is slightly more toward the front of dumbbells. This puts your wrist in a more mechanically advantageous position when during the curling motion. If you grasp the handles further back, you'll feel undue stress on the thumb-side of your wrist during the lift. Also, note the neutral/straight wrist position; this is essential to maintain throughout the lift and may be something you need to actively focus on -- It makes a big difference when your wrist is straight and stable on this lift in particular. Source for this image and images below: ScottHermanFitness

  • Make sure both arms are completely straight and extended.
  • Make sure to have a slight anterior pelvic tilt and abdominal brace
Hammer Curl Starting Position - Front View

Starting position - front view: Note the neutral posture with the core braced.

Hammer Curl Starting Position - Side View

Starting position - side view: Note how the elbows are ever so slightly bent. Also the elbows are shifted a bit more forward than they would be if the arms were totally relaxed. They are basically in line with the hips. Ideally, the elbows should never go any further back than this at any point throughout the lift.

2. Concentric Movement

  • Forcefully flex the elbow to raise the dumbbells.
  • Keep the elbows pinned into your sides and try to to flex/swing at the shoulder.
Hammer Curl Concentric - Front View

Note that it's okay to shift your elbows forward slightly when curling the weight to the top of the rep. But not too far foward, as that will take tension off the biceps/brachioradialis and put it on the front delt.

3. Midpoint

  • Once you have reached maximal flexion in the elbow, actively and deliberately squeeze the biceps for a brief pause.
Hammer Curl Concentric - Side View

Squeeze hard at the top! You should feel all the tension on your biceps/brachioradialis at this point. If these muscles have less tension on them than during the actual curling motion, chances are you shifted the tension onto your shoulder by bringing your elbows too far forward.

4. Eccentric Movement

  • Once the dumbbells achieved a motionless position, reverse by deliberately extending the elbow.
  • Put conscious effort into resisting the pull of gravity and slowly bring the weights back to the starting position.
Hammer Curl Eccentric - Side View

Lower the weight by extending your elbow until your arms are straight, but just short of a full lockout. Feel the biceps and brachioradialis working extra hard as you deliberately resist the dumbbells on the eccentric motion.

5. Repeat

  • Once the dumbbells are motionless at the start position, repeat the movement.

Common Hammer Curl Errors to Avoid

Mistake:

Solution:

​Using hip momentum to start the lift

If you can’t initiate elbow flexion without swinging the hips, you need to drop the weight and focus on just using the biceps to start the pull.

Extending the trunk at the midpoint

Leaning back to “cradle” weight into the midpoint position is a sign of poor motor control of the biceps. Focus on gradually squeezing the bicep at the top of the movement and only bringing the weight up asd high as your elbow flexion allows.

​“Relaxing” back to the start

Deliberately resist the weight on the way back down without losing elbow position at your sides. Allowing the elbows to swing forwards or backwards and relaxing the muscle negates the eccentric benefits of the exercise.

​Incomplete Elbow Extension

Make certain to return the dumbbells all the way to the starting point. Complete extension is key to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.

Hammer Curl Tips

  1. Don’t swing the elbows or shoulders to achieve a greater range of motion.
  2. Ensure complete extension of the elbows between reps.
  3. Squeeze the biceps hard into the mid-point to get the most active range of motion out of your elbow flexion.
  4. Resist the weight and the force of gravity when returning to the starting position to get the most benefit out of the eccentric portion of the exercise.

Is the Hammer Curl Right for You?

Hammer Curls are an excellent exercise for any level of lifting experience. Especially those individuals pushing heavy weight pretty regularly, training the biceps from a neutral (palms facing each other) will create a welcome reprieve in shoulder torque that can be extremely with supinated/pronated straight bar curling.

Also, hammer curls do an excellent job distributing the workload to all of the muscles responsible for elbow flexion. Hammer Curls should be a staple arm exercise in every training program.

About the Author Alex

Hey! My name is Alex, and I'm the owner and author of King of the Gym. I started this website back in late 2009 during college, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: