Best Techniques to do Dumbbell Hammer Curl Exercise


Standing dumbbell hammer curl is a common exercise for working out the biceps. It has a low threshold and can be performed with minimal equipment, such as a dumbbell. 

test author

It fits most people. But the problem is that many people perform it with technical mistakes, throwing dumbbells to the shoulders using momentum, or making too many needless movements. This is what keeps people away from pumping the most impressive biceps, and not the wrong choice of exercise. Fortunately, everyone can learn to make hammer curls, it’s rather easy.



Starting position

  1. Choose a pair of dumbbells both for warm-up and working sets. It is pointless to give any general recommendations here. According to the rules, the last two reps should go hard, at the limit of one’s abilities. The weight is selected based on this premise
  2. Next, you need to take the dumbbells in your hands with a neutral grip, with palms facing each other, the body is upright, the spine is neutral, the stomach is tucked up and shoulder blades are brought together
  3. The forearms are pressed to the body, the position of the body is regulated by stabilizers, there should be no swing.


  1. From the stretched position, the dumbbells are brought to the shoulders via bending of the elbows
  2. The biceps work as the main mover and bring dumbbells to the shoulders
  3. You should stop at the point of maximum tension, bringing dumbbells to your shoulders above this point is not worth it, this does not lead to a better result whatsoever
  4. You can curl alternately or simultaneously. In the first case there is more focus on the work of each bicep, therefore, most athletes are suited by it
  5. Curling is performed on exhale, lowering – on inhale
  6. You need to work smoothly and slowly until all reps are completed, the curls are adjusted to the normal pace of breathing, not vice versa


  • The elbows should be somewhat aligned with the curve of the spine. They do not need to be driven back, reducing the amplitude of the movement and facilitating the performance. If it goes only in such a way, you should probably take lighter dumbbells.
  • Leading the elbows forward shifts the strain to forearms and also reduces the amplitude
  • Snatching the body and lifting dumbbells by momentum are not allowed;
  • It is better to refrain from fully straightening the arms at the lower point of the amplitude. This can lead to an overload of the ligaments of the elbow joint


  • Keep your hands equally leveled, dumbbell bars rise along two parallel elliptical trajectories. The turn will violate the lifting mechanics and lead to a technical mistake
  • Do not lift the weight too quickly, so as not to beat off the dumbbells from the forearms by momentum and not to lose muscle tension. In this exercise, it is important to always strain your biceps, and not relax it at the lower point


Simultaneous hammer curls


This exercise variation is suitable for those who have been working out for quite some time. It is more complicated in terms of correct technique than the usual dumbbell curls for biceps, so it may not be suitable for beginners. This variation is good for those who can keep their hands fairly straight and leveled, and lift the dumbbells without twisting them in one direction. This variation can be performed with heavier dumbbells, and be the first or main exercise in training your biceps. Alternate curls usually complete the workout and are performed with lighter weight

Hammer curls toward chest


In this variation the dumbbell goes to the opposite shoulder along an elliptical path in front of the body. Hammer curls to the chest involves the shoulders to a greater extent. This variation is loved by really massive fellas, for it is technically more convenient with large arms. Still, you need to mind the balance and the need to isolate the working group of muscles.

Concentrated Hammer curls


The exercise is performed either on a Scott bench or with the elbow pressed against a thigh while seated. Hammer curls become concentrated when the elbow is placed on an inclined bench, and the arm is bent at full amplitude. In this version, lesser weight is taken, no way you will be able to cheat. The exercise is performed quite accurately and in a limited amplitude.

Inclined/Scott bench hammer curls


If your gym does not provide a Scott bench, the movement is done on a regular inclined bench. The forearm is placed on a bench, tilted at a 30 degrees’ angle, and with the fixation of the arm movement is performed. If the Scott bench is within reach, you can use it as well. This type of exercise is more isolated, it is good in that you can work out the arms with less weight, without your core helping your arms out.

Exercise analysis

Muscles Involved

  • The main movers are biceps and brachialis
  • Brachiradialis, shoulders (front deltoids), core muscles (when standing) and even abs – all those work as stabilizers


  • This movement is often used for developing the ability to pull a lot of weight in an inclination to the back. It prepares the elbows and forearms for the strain and allows you to build up not only strength, but also the endurance of small muscles
  • The exercise helps you out in building a symmetrical physique
  • It is quite simple in terms of technique and is suitable for beginners
  • It can be performed with the simplest equipment
  • The exercise is done at the end of the workout, can be performed with a small weight to avoid overstretching of the ligaments of the elbow joints
  • Allows you to increase the total mass of arms


  • Coaches often remove this exercise from the programs of more advanced amateurs, so that they can more harmoniously develop biceps with exercises with a higher degree of isolation. This movement distributes the load between the biceps, brachialis, and muscles working in static. A lot of folks are not into it.

Getting ready for the exercise


Preparation for this exercise is quite simple. It is not put at the beginning of the workout, therefore, general joint warm-up is at the beginning, there is no need to do any special warm-up before hammer curls. Usually, bent-over rows or other exercises for this muscle group, are the warm-up. Just don’t put this particular movement in the beginning of your workout and you’ll be fine without any specific warm-up.

Before working sets there goes one with a small weight and about 15-20 reps in order to get the blood running, and also to engage neuromuscular connections.

Correct performance

  • Curls are done on exhale, the pace is quite slow, muscle contraction is concentrated. Do not bring dumbbells to your shoulders and keep them that way
  • Cheating and swinging the body is no good in all variations of the movement
  • Hammer curls with a neutral grip are considered a universal movement that involves not only biceps and brachialis, but also brachioradialis. Distribution of strain depends on grip. If the palms are directed towards each other – biceps work more, when you turn the palm down – the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles work more.
  • The elbows should be kept motionlessly pressed to the body. They are not moved forward, backward or displaced in different directions
  • The exercise is performed in a relatively limited amplitude, you should not straighten the elbows and let dumbbells just hang on their own. As soon as the strain on the biceps decreases, the trajectory should be reduced
  • It’s not quite right to do this movement like your average cardio, performing a lot of swings with dumbbells. It is better to do it concentrated enough and slowly enough to achieve maximum performance

Common mistakes

  • The main technical mistake is the relaxing your arms with dumbbells and the lowering of dumbbells along the body too quickly, so that they momentum drop them down without muscle involvement
  • No need to lift the weight by jerks form legs and upper body
  • Avoid bringing the dumbbells close to the shoulders
  • You cannot swing elbows back and forth from the body line

Guidelines for increasing performance

  • The best way to go with this exercise is to select the weight so that it is optimal, not overloading your elbows and not forcing you to make curls by cheating
  • Beginners should start not with standing hammer curls, but with seated ones in order to make the exercise isolated enough
  • If your elbows diverge and move away from the body, it makes sense to lean your back against the wall, or stand with your spine close to any vertical support
  • At the upper point of the amplitude you need to statically strain the muscles and make a pause

Including the exercise into workout


The exercise may be the only biceps exercise in workouts for pressers and powerlifters. In fitness and bodybuilding, on the other hand, it is most often used as a second most important biceps exercise along with barbell bicep curls.

There may be other to include it. For example, hammer curls may precede barbell curls so that a person can warm up well.

As for sets/reps, it varies. It can be 8-12 reps or 15-20, depending on weight and purpose. In pumping mode, muscles work with less weight and more reps.


Direct – injuries of the elbows and wrists. It is necessary to wait until these parts are completely healed.

Indirect – injury of the lumbar spine. In this case, light weight, controlled equipment and most of getting most of the load due to static hold of the weight at the upper point will save you the trouble.



A crossover machine with a D-bar can be used to replace the movement. In this case, the arms work alternately. Sometimes, hammer curls are done with rubber resistance bands. There is even a special machine for this exercise. It is not a full-featured replacement, but it is preferred by those who seeks to fully control the trajectories of the movement.

Hammer curls can be replaced by classical seated inclined bench dumbbell curls or concentrated curls, if a person’s number one task is to pump the biceps, and not to perform exercises for the integrated development of biceps, brachialis, brachiradialis and front deltoids in static. Hammer curls can be introduced into the training from time to time or on an ongoing basis. It is for each one to decide, based on the response of the body, development and personal preferences.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here