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How to Do the Hammer Curl (Step-by-Step)

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

Muscles Worked: Forearms, Biceps

Equipment Needed: Dumbbell

Difficulty: Beginner

The hammer curl is another common and effective exercise for the upper and lower arm muscles.

This article explains how to do the hammer curl, its benefits and how to make it easier and harder.

How to Do the Hammer Curl

  • To begin, grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them alongside you. Make sure your palms face your body.

  • Make sure to keep your upper arm stationary and bend at your elbows, lifting both dumbbells alternately.

  • Lift each dumbbell until they reach shoulder-height.

  • Once at shoulder-height, slowly lower the dumbbells back down.

  • Repeat for the other arm and for the desired number of repetitions.

This exercise is very similar to the bicep curl.

What Is a Hammer Curl?

The hammer curl is a common, but effective exercise which works the upper arm and lower arm muscle, such as the biceps and brachioradialis.

The hammer curl is an excellent assistive exercise for strength, size and definition - it is another exercise commonly used by athletes and can be added to your training routine for enhanced effectiveness.

You can do this exercise using dumbbells, cables, kettlebells, resistance bands and other equipment.

Similarly to the bicep curl, the hammer curl can also be added to your home workout routine using weighted backpacks, water jugs etc.

Starting with the standing or sitting alternating hammer curl is a good starting point.


Hammer curls mainly activate three muscle groups; the biceps, the brachioradialis and the brachialis. These three muscle groups are required in most daily movements.

Therefore, this exercise can help improve size and strength of the biceps and the forearm muscles.

benefits of the hammer curl
The hammer curl targets the upper and lower arm muscles.

How to Make It Harder

You can make the hammer curl harder in a couple ways.

The simple ways to make it harder is to:

  • Increase repetitions.

  • Increase weight.

Increasing the weight or the reps, or both, of this exercise can increase the resistance and make the hammer curl harder to perform.

The other ways to make the hammer curl harder is to:

  • Add resistance bands.

  • Increase time-under-tension.

Adding resistance bands to this exercise, similarly to the bicep curl, can enhance the hammer curls dynamics, making it more effective and harder.

The addition of resistance bands makes this exercise more challenging at the top of the rep; usually for this exercise, it gets easier as the dumbbell gets past the 45° angle.

Increasing time-under-tension (how long the rep is performed for) also makes the hammer curl more effective; you can utilise this by going slower or holding the weight for 1-5 seconds at the 45° mark.

How to Make It Easier

Making the hammer curl easier can be achieved in two ways.

You can make it easier by:

  • Using lighter weights.

  • Doing fewer reps.

Over time you can increase the number of repetitions or increase the weight as your strength improves.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What muscles do the hammer curl work?

A: The hammer curl mainly works three muscle groups, the biceps, the brachioradialis and the brachialis. These three muscle groups are required in most daily movements.

Q: Should you alternate hammer curls?

A: Alternating hammer curls is one of the most common ways of doing this exercise, it can help to improve strength and increase load on the muscles worked in this exercise compared to not alternating.

Q: Hammer curls vs bicep curls?

A: The bicep curl is another common upper arm exercise, it mainly works the biceps muscles. The hammer curl works the biceps to a lesser extend but activates the forearm muscles to a higher degree.


Written by Billy White

billy white

Billy White is a qualified Kinesiologist and Personal Trainer. He is an aspiring bodybuilder, fitness enthusiast, and health and fitness researcher.

He has multiple years of experience within the fitness, bodybuilding and health space. He is committed to providing the highest-quality information.


The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.


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