Hammer Curls vs. Bicep Curls: The Best Way To Build Biceps
Hammer curls and regular bicep curls are two of the most popular exercises for building your biceps. However, they may not be as effective as you might think since their form is very different and these variations can alter your body’s response to each exercise.
This article will compare and contrast the two movements to help you decide which variation works best for your training.
What Are Hammer Curls?
Hammer curls are an isolation exercise that targets your biceps brachii, a.k.a. the “peak” of your upper arm. The name comes from the position in which you hold the weights during the exercise when your palms face each other.
This causes them to mimic a hammer swinging back and forth between your legs when you perform the movement. As is with nearly any weight lifting exercise, there are many variations on this movement so you can vary it based on what kind of equipment you have available or what muscles you want to emphasize most.
Essential tips for safely and correctly completing hammer curls
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and hold the dumbbells in front of you
- Slowly curl one weight up and toward your body while rotating it around so that it ends up to the outside of your thigh when you are at the top of the movement.
- Hold for a moment then slowly lower back down.
- Repeat this movement for 8-12 reps, then switch arms.
What Muscles Do Hammer Curls Work?
When you perform hammer curls, the path of the weight concentrates on your brachialis muscle which is located underneath your biceps brachii. Since this muscle doesn’t get much work during other arm exercises, hammer curls are a great way to target it and build it up so that you can see more impressive arms.
Hammer Curls Benefits
Like other isolation exercises, hammer curls allow you to work on a specific muscle or muscle group. If you are trying to emphasize one part of your arm over the others, this is great exercise for doing so.
- It also allows you to use lower weights because it doesn’t affect any other muscles in your arms This enables you to challenge your muscles without straining them.
- It allows you to target your brachialis muscle. This is a great benefit for those who want to emphasize their arm muscles and make them look more defined.
In addition, this exercise will help build endurance in your biceps muscles. As mentioned, hammer curls allow you to work with lower weights than other exercises because they isolate a smaller muscle group.
This means that you will be able to complete more reps at a time and build up strength in your arms with fewer reps than other exercises.
What Are Bicep Curls?
Bicep curls are another isolation exercise that targets primarily your biceps brachii muscle but also works your brachialis muscle. This is essentially a curl with an underhand grip on a straight bar or EZ bar.
While there are several variations of this movement, they all involve bringing the weight up as far as you can to your chest. Once again, there are many variations of this movement so you can vary it based on what kind of equipment you have available or what muscles you want to emphasize most.
Essential tips for safely and correctly completing bicep curls
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip.
- Slightly bend your knees and curl both arms toward your shoulders at once without rotating your palms.
- Slowly lower your arms back down until fully extended.
- Repeat 8-12 reps.
- If using a bar, stand upright but do not lean over too much since that places unnecessary strain on the lower back. With a bar, you won’t be able to use the same grip as with dumbbells.
What Muscles Do Bicep Curls Work?
Bicep curls work primarily the biceps brachii muscle but also works your brachialis muscle a little bit as well as your forearms and shoulders. If you place your palms facing forward during this movement, it works the brachioradialis muscle located on the lower part of your upper arm.
This is the muscle that appears to have a definition between your triceps and biceps when in reality it is just another part of the same muscle.
Bicep Curls Benefits
Like other isolation exercises, bicep curls allow you to work on a specific muscle or muscle group. If you are trying to emphasize one part of your arm over the others, this is a great exercise for doing so. These are also best if you are only doing arm exercises since they isolate the biceps more than other muscles in your arms.
Hammer Curls vs. Bicep Curls: What’s the Difference?
The biggest difference is that hammer curls allow you to concentrate on one muscle more than the others while bicep curls work on multiple muscles. Bicep curls are very good for emphasizing strength in your biceps brachii muscle while hammer curls target your brachialis muscle.
It is also important to note that how you perform these exercises is slightly different. If doing hammer curls, you will end with your palms inward. On the other hand, if doing bicep curls, you will end up with your palms facing each other. This is because it helps target the muscles differently.
When doing hammer curls, you are able to lift more weight since it is a smaller muscle group being isolated by this movement. You are also able to execute more reps and build endurance in your arms over time using this exercise.
However, when doing bicep curls, you can emphasize different parts of the arm muscles and work them harder than normal.
How Do You Use Hammer Curls And Bicep Curls Together?
When you put them together in a workout, bicep curls work the upper aspects of your arm muscles while hammer curls target the lower portions. This way, both sides of your arms will get workout evenly and not to one extreme or another.
If you wanted to emphasize strength and size to certain parts of your arms, you could do just one exercise for that part to finish off your workouts perfectly. For example: Doing this would give you a great workout as well as emphasize each part of the muscles as much as possible since they are being worked by different movements. In terms of how many times you should do each one, doing both about twice a week will give your arms the best workout.
The Bottom Line
Both these exercises isolate and work on specific parts of your arm muscles so they typically don’t need any other form of working out before or after completing them. If not doing any other arm exercises, we would recommend using these.