Biceps: Hammer Curls vs Straight Curls

Eric September 3, 2010




If you want to grow any muscle, it’s necessary to hit the muscle from different angles. Making even the most minor of adjustments can make the world of difference. ie: rotating your wrists, pointing your toes a different direction, changing the position of your elbow, leaning forward, etc. When you realize just how many different exercises there are out there for each muscle group, you might be overwhelmed. Well, don’t you worry, the Squad is here to give you the 411 on how each different exercise will affect muscle growth within your body.

Today we’ll compare two different exercises that work different parts of the bicep, dumbbell hammer curls and normal dumbbell curls. Check out the details after the jump. 

Alternating Dumbbell Curls

 To do this exercise, you obviously need dumbbells. Grab appropriate sized dumbbells and stand holding them to your side. Stand with one leg forward and one leg back. This causes the back leg to anchor your spine so that when you lift the dumbbell you are less likely to curve your spine to cheat, and potentially hurt your back. Hold the dumbbells to your side with your palms forward, your elbows tucked in by your rib cage, and your chest up/shoulders back. Lift one side, without allowing your elbow to leave your rib cage. (Moving your elbow in this motion causes your shoulder joint to move, and moving your shoulder this becomes a shoulder and back workout. The goal is to isolate your bicep, so you only move the joint associated with the movement of that muscle.) After you lift the weight, focus on the negative, allowing gravity to work your muscle. Straighten your arm all the way, then switch sides, alternating back and forth. It is CRITICAL when working your bicep, to start every repetition with your arm fully extended. If you don’t straighten your arm all the way, you’re missing out on about 20% of the movement of the muscle- and as such you’re missing out on 20% of the growth potential.

Alternating Hammer Curls

The movement in a hammer curl is exactly the same as a normal bicep curl. The only difference is that you rotate your wrists to face your palms in. It’s called the hammer curl because your arms resemble a hammer throughout the motion.

Alternating Dumbbell Curls vs. Alternating Hammer Curls

So which exercise is better for your bicep? They both are. Doing normal curls will help you get a peak in you bicep when you flex it. Rotating your wrists to face inward during a curl lengthens your bicep and allows you to get thicker, fuller arms. You can see the difference by just holding your arm out in front of you with your elbow to your side. Rotate your wrist back and forth while watching your bicep and you can see the muscle lengthen and contract.

So next time you’re in the gym, do both. A good routine blasts your muscles from every angle!

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