As its name suggests, the alternating hammer uses a hammering motion; up and down to isolate biceps and build bigger arms. It is a variation of the biceps curl and targets muscles in the upper and lower arm.
Although it is mostly performed using dumbbells, you can also perform it using cables or bands. It is a great addition to your upper body strength routine.
WHAT MUSCLES DO ALTERNATING HAMMER CURLS WORK?
As mentioned earlier, alternating hammer curls are important because they work your arms. Typically, your biceps get all the attention plus two other muscles within it: the brachialis and brachioradialis.
The brachialis is the muscle that sits under your biceps and the brachioradialis is a long muscle that runs from deep inside the centre of your upper arm to the centre of your forearm.
These two muscles work together with the biceps in order to flex your arm at the elbow.
The alternating hammer curls will help build the brachialis and brachioradialis in a unique way, that other curls will probably not.
These curls will allow you to develop additional strength and size. If your aim is to beef up your arms, working the brachialis is what you need.
Additionally, by performing alternating hammer curls compared to the regular hammer curls, you will naturally improve your mind- muscle connection to greater levels because you will only need to focus on working one arm at a time.
The secondary muscles that benefit from the alternating hammer curls are forearm extensors and forearm flexors.
HOW TO DO ALTERNATING HAMMER CURLS PROPERLY
You can choose to perform the seated alternating hammer curls in order to take the attention off your core, or better still, go for the standing version where you have no convenience (no benches required) and better abdominal stimulation.
Grab two dumbbells with neutral grips and hold them by your sides. While keeping your other arm stationary, curl one dumbbell towards your shoulder.
Keep your elbow still as you curl the weight up and then squeeze your bicep at the top of the rep.
Lower the dumbbell slowly, under control until your elbow is fully extended. Repeat the same motion with your other arm.
BENEFITS OF ALTERNATING HAMMER CURLS
Experts point out that alternating hammer curls work your bicep muscles, which makes it the go to exercise when you are tired of doing the regular hammer curls or want to focus on a bit more muscles at the same time.
Just like a standard curl, the alternating hammer curl will also exercise your biceps. Rotating your arms to face each other during the movements will also engage your forearm muscles and lead the fuller better- looking arms you have always wanted.
Alternating hammer curs challenge your wrist strength and grip, which will prepare you for your other weight lifting routines.
Alternating hammer curls is a functional exercise. This means that they mimic natural movement patterns, precisely for its case, a pulling motion. By engaging in the exercise regularly, you will improve your everyday movements and also have more accessibility, such as carrying picking up your kids and carrying a heavy box.
The move will also help you to build a better back because your lats and traps will naturally receive more stimulation when your arms don’t give out prematurely.
IMPROVED MIND- MUSCLE CONNECTION
Since you only need to concentrate on one arm at a time during the alternating hammer curls, you will get a better mind- muscle connection because your central nervous system can channel all its force towards flexing and contracting the arm that you are currently working.
ALTERNATIVES TO ALTERNATING HAMMER CULRS
INCLINE HAMMER CURL
As mentioned earlier, in this alternative, you will use an incline bench to do the hammer curl. The same movements to the alternating hammer curls apply. However, when seated, the starting position places your arms behind your hips and helps to reduce shoulder involvement.
PREACHER HAMMER CURL
This alternative exercise to the alternating hammer curls uses the preacher bench while doing the curls. The preacher bench is an angled padded armrest which will allow you to hold your upper arm in an isolated position in order to lift more weight and better target your biceps.
HAMMER CURL POWER SQUAT
This move makes the alternating hammer curls more challenging by adding squats, to help work your legs and glutes at the same time. After lifting the weight to your shoulder, you drop into a squatting position, hold briefly, stand back up and return the weight to your side.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHILE ALTERNATING HAMMER CURLS
Using momentum will decrease your ability to build strength with this exercise. Additionally, swinging motions may also cause injuries because you may lose control when the momentum kicks in.
To tell if you are using momentum, consider starting the exercise by leaning slightly foreword and bringing the weights behind your hips. This position will help you to wind up for the workload.
Curling too fast while doing the alternating hammer curls is a sign that you are not carrying enough weight. Taking your time during the up ward and downward movements will help you to focus on form. Additionally, slowing your movement will add more challenge to the exercise since you will engage the muscles for a longer period.
When performing the alternating hammer curls, it is easy to find the shoulder that is not engaged floating away. While this will give you more benefit because you will engage other muscles like deltoids, it will shift your focus from the biceps.
Try to have your elbows in a stable, fixed position and concentrate on moving only one arm at a time. However, if you are unable to lift the weight without moving your shoulder, it is a sign that you are lifting too much weight.
While the alternating hammer curl is appropriate for most exercisers, those with lower arm injuries may need an alternate exercise for modification first.