bicep curls or hammer curls

Bicep curls or hammer curls…. which is the best way to build up your arms? If the arms of your shirts don’t hug your guns enough, or at all…..

That means it’s time to rework your fitness plan to get bigger and better arms.

You need the best exercises out there that’re sure to work and give your arms the much needed transformation that you want.

If you’ve done any research about bicep or arm workout routines then it’s a given that you’ve come across bicep curls or hammer curls as your best bet to get bigger arms.

These two exercises always come up together whenever arm workouts are brought up, which may have you wondering…should I be doing one of these workouts or perhaps even both?

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between bicep curls and hammer curls as well as give you our unbiased opinion as to which is the best way for you to build your biceps.

So let’s get to it then!


Before we begin, let’s have a quick anatomical review of the muscles these exercises are for: the bicep muscles.

The bicep muscles are made up of predominately three muscles; the brachialis, the brachioradialis and the bicep brachii.

The bicep brachii is a double headed muscle consisting of an outer head and an inner head located between the shoulders and the forearm, originating from the coracoid process of your scapula, a bony landmark at the back, and inserts at the the lower part of your elbow in a spot known as the radial tuberosity.

The brachialis on the other hand, sits below the biceps brachii and is largely responsible for your elbow flexing motions.

The last muscle; the brachioradialis assists the brachialis to carry out these flexing movements.

The muscles of the biceps work together to allow flexing arm motions that enable you perform a lot of tasks like taking a chip out of the bag and into your mouth.

The Hammer Curl

The hammer curl is one of the most effective bicep exercises out there and it’s used by both newbie and veteran bodybuilders alike.

It’s also pretty versatile; as it can be done with not just dumbbells, but a variety of equipment such as cables or even resistance bands.

The hammer curls focus on building tension in the short head of the biceps brachii muscle if done properly and also helps give your arms the much-needed thickness, definition as well as symmetry, so it’s definitely a must-do if you’re looking to get some forearm action.

How to Do A Hammer Curl

  • Place your arms in a neutral position and firmly grasp the dumbbells in a neutral grip.
  • Make sure you get a tuck in at the elbow while lifting the lower arms to pull the weights all the way your shoulders.
  • Hold the dumbbells for one second at the top of the movement before lowering the weights to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this process.


 Although it focuses on the short head of the biceps brachii, hammer curls also work the other two bicep muscles, especially the brachialis, and is great way to increase upper arm thickness if growth has stagnated.

Hammer curls also help you improve wrist stability and grip strength, and unlike regular curls, don’t place tension on your wrists but on your forearms.


  • Use the appropriate weights: Try not to get carried and start lifting weights you’ll struggle with. Take it easy, take it slow… until you’re ready to add some more weights.
  • Make sure you’re not curling too fast; slowing down your movements adds more intensity to your workout, allowing you to engage your brachialis muscles for a longer period of time which get the most stimulation from slow, deliberate movements


The Preacher Hammer Curl

If you’re wondering why the name of this exercise sounds familiar, it’s because it is: the preacher curl was created by none other than our very own Vince Gironda as a training technique for Larry Scott, a two time Mr. Olympia winner. (Safe to say this technique worked).

You can find out more about the preacher curl here.

How It’s Done

  • Adjust the padded armrest so its top is touching your armpits.
  • Rest your upper arms against the padding, stretch your elbows, and hold the weights so your palms are facing each other.
  • Lift the weights to your shoulders, then lower them back down.
  • Repeat this process.


This hammer curl variation requires you to curl the dumbbell across your chest instead of up to your shoulders.

Here’s How It’s Done

  • Stand straight with a dumbbell in each side in a supinated position
  • Curl the dumbbell in your right hand across your left shoulder, just over your left breast.
  • Reverse this motion for your left hand
  • Repeat this process


Man exercising with dumbbells in fitness center stock photo

A gym classic. Bicep curls is a really popular exercise that you can use to grow your biceps, and can be done with dumbbells, kettle-bells, or barbells.

Bicep curls target the double headed bicep brachii muscle, located at the front of your forearm.


Bicep curls are really effecting at working the biceps brachaii muscle giving your arm the ‘pump’ or bulging aesthetic you need.

It’s also pretty easy to perform and most beginners start with this exercise and work their way up to more complex exercises after building some arm strength.

How It’s Done

  • Stand tall while placing your feet apart.
  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand while letting your arms relax down at the sides of your body with your palms facing forward.
  • Keep your upper arms stable and shoulders relaxed, bend at the elbow and lift the weights so that the dumbbells approach your shoulders. Your elbows should stay tucked in close to your ribs.
  • Lower the weights to the starting position.
  • Repeat this process

Tips For This Exercise

  • Breathe: Make sure you maintain proper breathing forms to get the best out of this exercise. Take short breaths when required, and try not to get winded.
  • Start slowly: I always advice this for any exercises requiring weight work or weight lifting; start slowly. Work your way up, and if you must go a level higher earlier than you anticipated to test yourself, get a spotter.
  • Make sure you’re not curling too fast; This tip also applies to this exercise. Control your movements for optimal effect and maximize this workout.

Bicep Curls or Hammer Curls: The Final Verdict

So the moment you’ve been waiting for… biceps curls or hammer curls…

The honest truth is… both of these exercises are separate and equal; hammer curls work your brachialis and your brachialradialis to give your arms thickness, symmetry and definition…. While bicep curls stimulate your bicep brachii muscles, giving arms the aesthetic swole look that’s a characteristic feature of many gym bros.

So if you’re looking for not better arms, apply these two workouts in variation and you’re guaranteed to get the best results!


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