The Benefits of Hammer Dumbbell Curls

The Benefits of Hammer Dumbbell Curls

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Dumbbell curls help develop stabilizer muscles.

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Exercising the biceps can be frustrating, because many of the exercises revolve around the same basic motion: the curl. However, the hammer curl with weighted dumbbells is a particularly effective exercise for reaching each segment of the biceps in a simple, fluid motion. The exercise, which provides a number of benefits, is easy to remember and you can perform it just about anywhere.

Complete Compression

One of the chief benefits of the hammer curl is that it fully compresses the biceps through a full range of motion. The form mimics the swing of a hammer, taking your arm from a starting position at waist level up until your arm completely compresses, with the ends of the barbell pointing up and down and not sideways as with other curls. The dumbbell is then slowly returned to the starting position. The exercise is an isolation movement, meaning that only one joint moves. In this case, it is the elbow.

Neutral Wrist Angle

Holding the dumbbell so that the ends point up and down removes the stress of the lift from your wrists, reducing fatigue and the risk of injury. Unlike standard curls, where your wrists engage to support the lift, the hand position of the hammer curl lets you keep your wrists static without much effort. This form also helps focus more of the lift's weight on your biceps without the possibility of your wrists “dipping” during the last few repetitions of a set, which sometimes occurs during regular curls.

Forearm Development

While standard curls typically engage the biceps, they mostly neglect the forearms, which are tough to hit with many exercises. Hammer curls incorporate an appropriate angle, proper wrist position and the ideal range of motion to engage both sections of the forearms, thereby providing a well-rounded arm workout. As long as you keep the tension from the weight engaged throughout the lift, your forearms will receive a great workout. However, don't let the dumbbells travel below your waist line. To facilitate forearm engagement, each rep of the exercise should begin with the forearms extended parallel to the floor, so that the entire arm forms a 90-degree angle, and end when the arm is at or slightly above a 45-degree angle to the floor.


Hammer curls provide an excellent method for varying your biceps workout, either as a change-of-pace exercise or as a complementary exercise in a more complete workout. For example, in successive workouts, swap preacher curls for hammer curls to prevent your biceps from acclimating easily to either exercise. Such swapping isn't nearly as effective when you change seated curls for standing curls, for example. To complement an existing biceps workout, follow your sets of standing biceps curls and bent-over rows with a few sets of hammer curls for a more extensive and intense regimen.