If you’ve been spending hours in the gym trying to bulk up your biceps with classic curls and chin-ups, and yet remain entirely unsatisfied with the size of your upper arms, the chances are you’ve never heard of the brachialis muscle.
There’s no shame in that – who can keep tabs on all of the hundreds of muscles in the human body? However, the brachialis is one it’s worth getting acquainted with, because it’s a key muscle for anyone hitting the gym with the aim of building sleeve-busting upper arms.
Your brachialis muscles are found on the outside of your upper arms right next to the biceps. By targeting the brachialis in your workouts, you’ll add mass to your upper arms and help your biceps stand out more. And one of the best ways to work the brachialis is to add the hammer curl to your training routine. Here’s how to do it.
How To Do A Hammer Curl
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands with your palms facing towards your body – this is the main difference from the standard curl, which you start with your palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows close to your body, slowly curl the dumbbell up to your shoulders. Pause for a second at the top of the lift, squeeze your biceps, then lower the weights under control.
Hammer Curl Variations
Seated hammer curl
Set up an adjustable bench at 90° so you can sit on the end of the bench with your back against it. Grab your dumbbells and let them hang at your sides with your palms facing each other. Keeping your back against the bench and your elbows tucked in, curl the weights up to your shoulders, then slowly lower them. The advantage of having your back against the bench is that it ensures your biceps are taking the load by preventing you from rocking your body and using momentum to help with the curl.
Rope cable curl
Using a cable machine means that you work against a consistent level of resistance throughout the movement. In the case of the hammer curl this means the same level of resistance at the top of the movement as the bottom. Attach a rope handle to the low pulley on a cable machine. Curl it up with your palms facing one another, keeping your core braced throughout the movement.
Alternating hammer curl with twist
In this variation of the hammer curl you lift one dumbbell at a time and twist your wrists at the top of the movement to hit the biceps from a different angle. Start with your wrists facing one another, then turn them to face you at the top of the curl so the position is the same as when doing regular biceps curls.
Lunge with hammer curl
If you consider doing one exercise purely to benefit your upper arms is an inefficient way to spend time in the gym, then pair the hammer curl with the lunge for a full-body hit. Holding a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, take a big step forwards on your right leg and lower until both your knees are bent at a 90° angle. Brace your core and curl the weights up, pause at the top, then lower them under control back to the start position. Push through your right foot to power back up to a standing position. The weighted lunge works all the major muscles in the lower body and you’ll also challenge your core as you maintain the lunge position while curling the weights. You can switch legs with each lunge or do all reps on one side and then the other.