6 Best Hammer Curl Alternatives You Must Try

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

Hammer curl alternatives

Photo credits- Man photo created by serhii_bobyk – www.freepik.com

Hammer curl is one of the most popular exercises to target the brachialis muscle. You will find many gym freaks doing this exercise in the gym. Also, talking about brachialis, it is the muscle that is found at the side of your arm in between the tricep and bicep muscles. It pushes the biceps to the front, allowing your bicep to look bigger. Therefore it is a big contributor to the size of the bicep.

But hammer curl is not the only exercise to train this muscle. You can do many other exercises apart from hammer curls to train the brachialis. So if you want to add an alternative to hammer curl, then this blog is for you.

Below is the list of the best alternatives to hammer curls which you can add to your workout program if you don’t want to do hammer curls or want to add some new exercise in place of hammer curl. Also if you are looking for cable hammer curl alternatives, then these exercises are for you. So let’s start!

Hammer Curl Alternatives

1. Zottman Curl

Zottman curls are great in strengthening the brachialis muscles by putting an eccentric overload on the muscles. This exercise is good to add when you have already done regular bicep curls for a while and want to add some variety.

Muscles Worked

Brachialis, brachioradialis, and biceps brachii

Level

Beginner

How to do

Grab two pairs of dumbbells and stand at a shoulder-width stance. Keep your arm straight to the side.

2. Start the exercise by curling the weights up by keeping your shoulders retracted and body straight.

3. Stop at the top when the biceps are completely contracted. From there, rotate your wrist such that the palms are facing forward.

4. Now slowly bring the dumbbells down and return to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 8-10

If you haven’t done this exercise, then start with a moderate weight, and then choose heavy dumbbells according to your strength.

This exercise will be a little harder for those who have good wrist mobility. So if you feel any pain in your joints, then stop it and go light or do another exercise.

2. Incline Bench Single-Arm Hammer Curl

This is another great exercise you can replace with regular hammer curls. Here you can do the exercise in three ways- overhand curls, hammer include curls, and supinated curls as shown in the above video. An overhand and neutral grip will target your brachialis muscles whereas an underhand grip is for the bicep brachii.

Muscles Worked

Brachialis, brachioradialis, and biceps brachii

Level

Beginner to intermediate

How to do

1. Hold a dumbbell in your hands and keep your arms on an incline bench set at about 60° angle.

2. Keep your chest up and hold a dumbbell with a pronated (overhand) grip. This will be your starting position.

3. Star the exercise by curling up while keeping your palms face down and bring the dumbbells up. Stop until the bicep is fully contracted.

4. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat.

Note – You can Do the same Exercise With a neutral and underhand grip

Recommended Reps- 12-15

You can either do individual exercises separately or mix both 3 exercises to form a superset. Supersets are good to create constant tension on the biceps. You can do that at the end of the workout as a finisher.

3. Neutral Grip Pull-Ups

This is one of the best strengthening exercises for your biceps. Pull-ups are compound movement and performing it at a neutral grip puts more tension on the brachialis muscles. Due to this, you can replace it with any hammer curls. Also, it is a good exercise to improve grip strength.

Muscles Worked

Brachialis, brachioradialis, and biceps brachii, lats and abs

Level

Intermediate

How to do

1. Grab a pull-up bar with a neutral grip and hang straight with your abs engaged. This will be your starting position.

2. Start by pulling your body up with the help of your arms by keeping your chest up and shoulders retracted.

3. Move up and bring your head up above the bar and stop there for a second.

4. Squeeze your biceps and lats at the top and slowly bring your body down to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 6-10 reps

You can add the intensity of the exercise by putting in extra weights. Just roll a belt over the waist and attach it with a plate and then perform the movement. But make sure that you can do at least 6-8 reps of those to get proper results.

4. Barbell Spider Curls

This is a killer bicep move that will completely pump up your biceps. This works mostly on the long head and due to an EZ bar, it targets the brachialis too. It will help you to develop that amazing peak of the bicep. So definitely try this exercise.

Muscles Worked

Brachialis and biceps brachii

Level

Beginner

How to do

1. Set up a bench at about 45° angle and place a weighted barbell in front of the bench.

2. Lay down on a bench with your chest hanging above the bench and let your training partner lift the weights to hand over to you.

3. While keeping your elbow perpendicular to the floor, curl up the barbell and fully squeeze your biceps at the top.

4. Stop when your biceps are fully contracted and then control the weights and bring the bar back to the starting position.

Here, you will be able to feel a hardcore burn on your biceps. After performing 3 sets of this, your biceps will look bigger and harder. You can add this exercise into your workout program if you want to focus more on the bicep peak.

5. Barbell Reverse Grip Curls

If you want a fully developed arm, then you must train the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles. These muscles will make your arms look bigger and stronger. For that, reverse grip curls are a great way to hit these muscles.

Muscles Worked

Brachialis, brachioradialis, and biceps brachii, lats and abs

Level

Beginner

How to do

1. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip at shoulder-width apart.

2. Stand straight while keeping your shoulders retracted and start curling the bar up. Breath out on the way up.

3. Stop until the bar reaches the neck level and then slowly bring the bar down, back towards the starting position.

4. Repeat the movement at a prescribed number of reps.

Here, your back should be stable and tight. Make sure that you are not overarching your lower back as it can create some lower back problems. Your core should be engaged throughout the movement to keep your body stable and upright.

If you find difficulty in doing this with a straight bar, then do it with an EZ bar. I have seen many people find it difficult to perform reverse curls with barbells due to a lack of wrist mobility. This is quite common so don’t worry about it. Do it with an EZ bar.

6. Rack Landmine Reverse Curls

This is a unique way to perform a reverse curl. This is a unilateral movement where you can focus on each part of your biceps separately. This will be another great alternative to hammer curls.

Muscles Worked

Brachialis, brachioradialis, and biceps brachii, lats and abs

Level

Beginner

How to do

1. Place a barbell on a squat rack and hold the barbell with an overhand grip.

2. Stand at the side of the rack with your hands facing down and this will be your starting position.

3. With one end of the barbell resting on the rack, lift the other side of the barbell and bring it towards shoulder height.

4. Contract your biceps and forearms fully at the top and then slowly bring the barbell back to the starting position.

To get continuous gains and to avoid a plateau, you must have some variations in your workout program. This is a different way to hit the brachialis and is a good way to shock the muscle from the new stimulus you provide with this kind of exercise.

How To Add Alternative Exercises In A Workout Program

As we discussed the alternatives, now you might have this question that how to add these to your workout program. The answer to that is that you must not add all of these alternatives to your workout. Rather select 1 or 2 of them and replace that with the hammer curl.

So for example, if you were doing dumbbell hammer curls for so long and now you want to replace it with an alternative then add zottman curls or incline bench hammer curls. Do that for 3-4 weeks and then replace that with other alternatives. This way your body will not hit a plateau and you will get continuous results.

Final Words

So these were some best hammer curl alternatives you can add to your workout program. All these exercises discussed above can be replaced with any hammer curl exercise. You need to make sure that you design your workout according to your goals and fitness level. If your brachialis muscles are weak, then do more hammer curls or alternatives to strengthen your weakness.

If you found this blog helpful, then do share it with your friends and on social media so that more people can know about these alternatives. Also, if you know of any alternative exercises, you can share them in the comment section below.


Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.

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