What Is a Hammer Curl?


When it comes to building and toning your biceps, strengthening your forearms and improving your grip strength, the hammer curl is one of the most effective exercises, according to Mike Behnken, NASM certified personal trainer. The hammer curl is considered an isolation exercise because it involves the movement of only one joint, the elbow. So named because it simulates the movement of your arm swinging a hammer, this exercise works multiple muscles to help you shape your arms.

How It's Done

  • The basic hammer curl is performed while standing. You hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. At the start you extend your arms, holding the weights by your thighs with a slight bend in your elbows and your palms facing inward. With your elbows close to your sides, you raise the weights until your forearms are vertical. At the top of the curl you squeeze your biceps, pause briefly and then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Variations include alternating arms and working from a seated position.

What It Works

  • The primary muscle targeted with hammer curls is the brachioradialis, a long, lateral forearm muscle. The brachioradialis originates at the humerus bone, attaches at the radius bone and is responsible for elbow flexion. The lower biceps muscle, the brachialis, and the biceps brachii, commonly referred to as the biceps, are also recruited as assisting muscles during the curling movement.

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