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Woman with two dumbbells doing a bicep curl next to another woman holding two dumbbells doing hammer curls, both framed by a large neon text saying "VS", short for versus.

Hammer Curl vs. Bicep Curl

blog Dec 02, 2023

Hammer Curl vs. Bicep Curl

When it comes to bicep training, two popular exercises often come into play - the hammer curl and the traditional bicep curl. Both of these exercises target the biceps and forearm muscles but have some key differences based on their grip positions. In this blog post, we'll delve into the details of these two exercises and explore the variations you can incorporate into your workout routine for maximum gains.

  1. Hammer Curl: Targeting the Brachialis

The hammer curl is named for the grip position resembling that of holding a hammer. In this exercise, your palms face each other throughout the movement, resulting in a neutral grip. The primary muscle targeted during a hammer curl is the brachialis, which is located underneath the biceps brachii. By working the brachialis, you can effectively add mass and strength to your upper arms, contributing to a well-rounded appearance.

  1. Bicep Curl: Focusing on the Biceps Brachii

The bicep curl, on the other hand, is the classic exercise we often associate with building bigger biceps. It involves a supinated grip, where your palms face upward. This position places more emphasis on the biceps brachii, the two-headed muscle at the front of your upper arm. Traditional bicep curls primarily engage the biceps brachii to provide that iconic bicep peak.

  1. Variations and Equipment

Both hammer curls and bicep curls offer a range of variations, making them versatile choices for bicep training. Some popular variations include:

  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls: Perform hammer curls using dumbbells to engage the brachialis effectively.
  • Cable Hammer Curls: Utilize cable machines with a neutral grip to add constant tension to the brachialis.
  • Dumbbell Bicep Curls: Employ dumbbells with a supinated grip to target the biceps brachii.
  • Chest Supported Bicep Curls: Support your chest on an incline bench while performing bicep curls to isolate the biceps and minimize cheating movements.
  1. Proper Form for Optimal Results

Regardless of whether you're doing hammer curls or bicep curls, maintaining proper form is crucial for effective muscle activation and injury prevention. Here are some key tips:

  • Focus on flexing only at the elbow joint, keeping the upper body stable throughout the movement.
  • Avoid swinging the shoulders or using excessive momentum to lift the weights.
  • Vary your shoulder angle position by doing both extended and flexed shoulder movements to target different muscle fibers.
  1. The Power of Supersets

To add variety and intensity to your bicep workout, consider incorporating supersets. A superset involves performing two exercises back-to-back with minimal rest in between. For example, you can combine a neutral grip bicep curl with a supinated grip bicep curl to challenge your muscles from different angles and create a more efficient workout.


In summary, both hammer curls and bicep curls are valuable exercises that can help you build impressive arm strength and size. Remember that the main difference between them lies in the grip position, targeting the brachialis for hammer curls and the biceps brachii for traditional bicep curls. By incorporating variations and paying attention to your form, you can optimize your bicep training and achieve well-rounded results.

Don't forget to watch the video on the six common mistakes people make during bicep training for additional tips to refine your workout routine. 

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