It doesn’t take a lot to persuade most individuals within the gymnasium to curve. If you need a formidable physique, an intense pump, and extra energy within the gymnasium, you’ll discover time to do some curls.

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But with so many curl variations, which motion do you decide? And how typically must you do them? How do you match curls into an already packed coaching program? These are the questions that you must deal with, so you can also make a extra knowledgeable resolution and win a a technique ticket to Armsville. 

To resolve it, let’s have a look at two traditional biceps-building staples: the hammer curl, which is carried out with a impartial (thumbs-up) grip and the usual dumbbell biceps curl carried out with a supinated, or palms-up, grip. By ranging from sq. one, you’ll study sufficient to start constructing your arms effectively and successfully. 

Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl

Hammer Curl and Biceps Curl Differences

These two workout routines could seem almost similar, however the comparatively delicate distinction in grip is answerable for an enormous distinction in outcomes.

Muscle Recruitment

The perform of the biceps muscle is to create flexion (bending) on the elbow and supination (rotation) on the wrist. The thumbs-up place of the hammer curl avoids supination and extra particularly targets the brachialis and brachioradialis, whereas a completely supinated grip (palms up) emphasizes the biceps brachii. (1)

The brachialis is a powerful elbow flexor, separate from the “main” biceps brachii on the entrance of the higher arm. The brachialis sits beneath the biceps, nearer to the bone. It’s believed that concentrating on the brachialis can have the impact of “pushing up” the biceps to make it seem bigger, not in contrast to carrying shoe lifts to seem taller.

This anatomical trickery could not yield important outcomes, as a result of the biceps brachii remains to be stimulated to develop whatever the grip used, but it surely’s price a strive. Hammer curls additionally recruit the brachioradialis, which is a comparatively bigger muscle operating alongside the highest of the forearm and over the elbow joint, close to the decrease portion of the biceps.

Woman at home performing dumbbell curlCredit: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

The hammer grip additionally barely emphasizes the brief head of the biceps, whereas a supinated grip prompts the lengthy head of the biceps muscle extra strongly. (2) Due to this, you’ll normally really feel a distinction in your arm rigidity when performing both motion. Both variations do work each heads of the biceps, however the emphasis is shifted barely from one to the opposite. 

Muscular Tension

The supinated grip places the biceps right into a barely longer stretched place. This is why you normally really feel tightness when your arm is absolutely straightened within the backside place. The neutral-grip place of the hammer curl places the muscle mass right into a barely “rested” place, slightly than a protracted stretched place.

To create extra rigidity within the backside place of a hammer curl, you may carry out the train seated for an incline hammer curl, which brings your arms behind your physique. You can create much more rigidity utilizing a supinated-grip curl by bringing your arms in entrance of the physique by performing a preacher curl or spider curl.

Exercise Similarities

These two dumbbell curls are, essentially, comparable. They require you to maneuver a weight with strict elbow flexion, which brings the load out of your hip-level to near-shoulder peak.

Targeted Biceps Training

The biceps curl and hammer curl are each isolation workout routines, which creates movement at one single joint (the elbow, on this case). This sort of motion is completely different from a compound train, which creates movement at two or extra joints — the chin-up, for instance, includes each the shoulder and elbow joints.

By limiting motion to a single joint, muscular stress is targeted on the goal muscle and isn’t distributed considerably throughout a number of muscle mass. This is why it’s essential to make use of strict kind and hold your elbow close to your ribs once you curl.

long-haired person in gym doing dumbbell curlCredit: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

If you swing the load and let your elbow get away out of your torso once you curl, you create motion on the shoulder joint which may take activation away from the biceps muscle.

Technique Differences

When watching a lifter performing a hammer curl and evaluating them to a lifter performing a regular biceps curl, one key distinction will stand above the rest.

Hand Position

A change as seemingly easy as turning your hand somehow won’t seem like an enormous deal, but it surely’s answerable for figuring out which arm muscle mass are recruited and the way laborious they’re labored.

With a thumbs-up hand place, your brachioradialis is put right into a mechanically stronger place to maneuver the load. The biceps brachii, whereas nonetheless recruited, is moved right into a much less robust pulling place as a result of construction of the muscle, tendons, and surrounding constructions. (3)

This delicate, but extremely efficient, change in grip isn’t in contrast to performing pull-ups (with a palm-down grip) in comparison with performing chin-ups (utilizing a supinated or palm-up grip). In this case, once more, a easy change in hand place shifts the muscular emphasis out of your again (with pull-ups) to your biceps (with chin-ups). (4)

Because the brachialis is barely answerable for elbow flexion, and never supination, it’s a comparatively stronger arm muscle. (5) This is why many lifters can carry out hammer curls utilizing heavier weights than they use with biceps curls. This additionally makes the 2 workout routines very efficient for supersetting collectively, performing a set of biceps curls till muscular fatigue after which instantly performing extra repetitions with hammer curls.

How to Do the Hammer Curl

Stand up holding a pair of dumbbells at arms-length, along with your palms dealing with in to your middle. Pull your shoulders again and flex your abs. Pin your elbows to your sides.

Curl the load by driving your thumbs as much as the fronts of your shoulders. Pause briefly within the high place earlier than straightening your arms again to the beginning place.

Form Tip: The brachialis, which is focused by the hammer curl, responds very properly to gradual lifting speeds. (6) Instead of performing hammer curls with a strong, explosive motion, decelerate to maintain that muscle below extra constant rigidity. Take three seconds to curve the weights to the highest place, pause for one second, decrease the weights in three seconds, and pause on the backside for one second.


  • The hammer curl permits you to use comparatively heavier weights, which will help energy beneficial properties.
  • This train targets muscle mass not usually emphasised with different curl variations, notably the brachialis and brachioradialis.

Hammer Curl Variations

The hammer curl is primarily outlined through the use of a impartial grip or thumbs-up curling place. You can hit your arms with some selection through the use of the identical hand place with a wide range of actions.

Kettlebell Curl

This is the most typical manner so as to add biceps coaching to a kettlebell exercise. By grabbing the kettlebell by the “horns,” your palms are put in a primarily thumbs-up place and also you get the advantages of a hammer curl utilizing a single kettlebell.

The kettlebell curl could be simply added as a kind of transition train between bigger actions, like squats or rows, or it may be used as a finisher for additional arm coaching after a excessive depth exercise.

Cross-body Curl

This single-arm hammer curl variation, typically referred to as a pinwheel curl, strikes the load throughout your physique as an alternative of shifting immediately ahead. This motion reduces the vary of movement, which helps you to use a barely heavier weight.

The crossbody curl is usually executed alternating arms with every repetition, however could be carried out with one arm at a time for much more time below rigidity.

How to Do the Biceps Curl

Stand up holding a pair of dumbbells at arms-length, along with your palms dealing with ahead. Pull your shoulders again and flex your abs. Pin your elbows to your sides.

Keep your palms degree along with your palms dealing with up as you curl the weights towards your shoulders. Don’t permit your elbows to come back ahead within the high place. Lower to a full extension.

Form Tip: Use a gradual eccentric (reducing part), taking as much as three seconds to increase your arms, however drive up powerfully and lift the load in a single second. This will place the biceps below rigidity in the course of the reducing part and permit robust power manufacturing when lifting the load.


  • The biceps curl emphasizes the biceps brachii by itself, with restricted involvement from different muscle mass.
  • This staple train is comparatively easy to study and program, making it an environment friendly train for any biceps-training program.

Biceps Curl Variations

The traditional supinated biceps curl could be tailored to many alternative actions, adjusting vary of movement, muscular rigidity, and different variables to supply a distinct muscle-building stimulus.

Dumbbell Preacher Curl

The preacher curl affords stability from the pad and prevents dishonest by eradicating the power to swing the load. That makes this probably the most strict and most biceps-intensive workout routines round.

The stretch within the backside place could be excessive, relying in your flexibility. Reduce the danger of harm by working inside your personal efficient vary of movement and, if vital, avoiding full lockout with this train to scale back pressure on the biceps tendons.

Cable Curl

The cable curl is a high-tension variation that makes use of a cable pulley as an alternative of free weights. This fixed rigidity creates a better set off for muscle progress in comparison with dumbbells, which depend on leverage and gravity to provide resistance.

The cable curl could be carried out with a wide range of handles, in addition to single-arm, for much more selection and progress stimulus.

Knowing the Best Curl for Your Goal

The beauty of this resolution is that you just nearly can’t get it mistaken. It’s not like selecting between a again squat or a entrance squat, that are carried out very in another way and yield very completely different outcomes. It’s extra like deciding when you’re going to place the cereal or the milk within the bowl first. The finish result’s mainly the identical, however you get to select the order you favor. However, there are only a few issues to contemplate.

For Strength

If you’re coaching primarily for energy, embrace extra hammer curls in your program. Being in a position to get extra coaching quantity to the brachialis goes to offer you extra help in workout routines like pull-ups, rows, and even deadlifts. Because the brachialis is a stronger arm muscle, you should use heavier weights for a good better energy stimulus.

For Muscle Size

If your aim is physique-focused, work extra on supinated-grip biceps curls. This will take the muscle mass by way of a better vary of motion, which is a serious key for hypertrophy. (7) Pairing this kind of coaching with some hammer curls utilizing slower tempos will set off main arm beneficial properties, whereas additionally ensuring you have got bother lifting your toothbrush the subsequent day.

Better Curls for Better Arms

Biceps coaching positively doesn’t need to be difficult, but it surely does need to be well-planned for max outcomes. Now that you recognize why and when to make use of every train, you’re in a greater place to design a routine that takes your arm exercises to the subsequent degree.


  1. Naito, A., Yajima, M., Fukamachi, H., Ushikoshi, Ok., Sun, Y. J., & Shimizu, Y. (1995). Electromyographic (EMG) research of the elbow flexors throughout supination and pronation of the forearm. The Tohoku journal of experimental drugs, 175(4), 285–288.
  2. Jarrett, C. D., Weir, D. M., Stuffmann, E. S., Jain, S., Miller, M. C., & Schmidt, C. C. (2012). Anatomic and biomechanical evaluation of the brief and lengthy head parts of the distal biceps tendon. Journal of shoulder and elbow surgical procedure, 21(7), 942–948.
  3. Kleiber, T., Kunz, L., & Disselhorst-Klug, C. (2015). Muscular coordination of biceps brachii and brachioradialis in elbow flexion with respect at hand place. Frontiers in physiology, 6, 215.
  4. Youdas, J. W., Amundson, C. L., Cicero, Ok. S., Hahn, J. J., Harezlak, D. T., & Hollman, J. H. (2010). Surface electromyographic activation patterns and elbow joint movement throughout a pull-up, chin-up, or perfect-pullup™ rotational train. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 24(12), 3404–3414.
  5. Plantz MA, Bordoni B. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Brachialis Muscle. [Updated 2022 Feb 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  6. Kulig, Ok., Powers, C. M., Shellock, F. G., & Terk, M. (2001). The results of eccentric velocity on activation of elbow flexors: analysis by magnetic resonance imaging. Medicine and science in sports activities and train, 33(2), 196–200.
  7. Baroni, B. M., Pompermayer, M. G., Cini, A., Peruzzolo, A. S., Radaelli, R., Brusco, C. M., & Pinto, R. S. (2017). Full Range of Motion Induces Greater Muscle Damage Than Partial Range of Motion in Elbow Flexion Exercise With Free Weights. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 31(8), 2223–2230.

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