Which Is Better?
When it comes to overall bicep development, traditional bicep curls are still king. The supinated hand position puts way more of the load directly on the bicep with less help from surrounding muscles like the forearms.
However, hammer curls are great for hitting the outer arm and upper forearm that don’t get worked as much during regular curls. It’s also a useful variation when you’re looking to create a more noticeable bicep peak.
For this reason, I recommend using a supinated grip more often than not during your bicep workouts. But throw in a hammer curl variation every few exercises to round out your arms.
Hammer Curl Variations
There are several different ways you can incorporate hammer curls. So you can find a way to do this exercise with whatever equipment you have available.
Standing Hammer Curls
Standing dumbbell hammer curls are probably the most common variation of this exercise. And it’s the one illustrated in Figure 2 above.
For this variation, you’ll start with a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended at your sides, and palms facing in. Keeping your elbow tight to your side, flex your arm to pull the weight up towards your shoulder. Lower the weight and repeat with the other arm.
With dumbbells, you have the option to perform this exercise in an alternating fashion, one arm at a time. This helps you focus on muscle contraction and is useful as you learn the movement. But you can also perform hammer curls with both arms at the same time.
Seated Hammer Curls
Seated hammer curls are identical to standing hammer curls, except you perform the exercise while sitting on a bench. In the seated position, you reduce momentum from the rest of your body, which puts more of the load on the bicep.
Another variation of seated hammer curls involves leaning back on an incline bench. This eliminates momentum altogether and isolates the biceps. The angle also puts more load on the biceps in the stretched position.