How To Do The Hammer Workout Properly

If you are in the market for stronger arms, then you may want to try out the hammer workout (aka the hammer curl) which works both your upper and lower arms using a weight, a resistance band or a cable.

This article describes how to do it with dumbbells.

Required equipment: Dumbbells


  • Stand upright with your legs straight and your knees aligned under your hips.
  • Place your arms at your sides, holding a dumbbell in each hand. These dumbbells should be resting next to your outer thighs.
  • Make sure your palms face inwards (your thighs) and your thumbs face forward. Your shoulders should be relaxed.
  • Engage your core.
  • Bending at your elbows, lift your lower arms to enable you pull the dumbbells towards your shoulders. Your upper arms should be still and your wrists in line with the forearms.
  • Hold for one second at the top position. At this position, your thumbs should be close to your shoulders.
  • Lower the dumbbells to get back to the starting position.
  • Do as many reps as you desire.

When you are first starting out, 2 sets of 7-10 reps each should be enough. As you get more flexible and stronger, you can increase the reps and add some weight too.


The hammer workout works your biceps brachii, an elbow flexor responsible for bending your elbow joint and rotating your forearms.

It also strengthens your core as you tighten it to keep your back and your spine stable during the movement.



The hammer workout helps you develop stronger biceps which help you with arm-based movements such as closing doors and carrying and lifting heavy objects.


By holding on to the dumbbells throughout the exercise, you will develop better gripping strength which comes in handy when you are performing movements that require gripping such as pull-ups.



This variation of the standard biceps curl helps strengthen and tone your arms. It is also known as the reverse arm curl or the reverse curl.

Like the hammer workout, it works your biceps brachii which helps flex your elbows.

It is almost similar to the traditional biceps curl, except you grip the weight with your palms facing down instead of up.

For this exercise, you can use a barbell, an EZ curl bar or dumbbells as your weights.

How to do it:

  • Stand straight with your chest lifted, back straight and shoulders rolled back.
  • Grab a pair of dumbbells, with a pronated grip (palms facing down).
  • Hold the weights in front of your thighs.
  • Exhaling, bend your elbows to help you lift the dumbbells up towards your shoulders.
  • Bring the weights up until you feel your biceps have completely contracted.
  • Lower the weights to the starting position slowly, steadily and with control.
  • Inhale as you lower the weights.

Your upper arms should remain as still as you can keep them during this movement.

Note that you should not use too much weight as this puts you at risk of wrist injury.

Also, avoid using momentum; it could ruin your form and injure your shoulder and lower back.


The Zottman curl helps strengthen the brachialis muscles by placing an eccentric overload on your muscles.

It can be an excellent addition to your arm workout if you have already perfected the form for the regular biceps curl and you’re looking to add some variety.

Apart from the brachialis, the Zottman curl also works the biceps brachii and the brachioradialis.

How to do it:

  • Start by grabbing two dumbbells and standing upright with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your arms by your sides. This is your starting position.
  • Curl the dumbbells up by keeping your shoulder blades retracted and your body straight.
  • Pause at the top position for a few seconds when you have fully contracted your biceps.
  • Then, rotate your wrists, making your palms facing forward.
  • Slowly and with control, lower the dumbbells to the starting position.
  • Do 8-10 reps at the start.

This exercise is a bit hard on the wrists, so if you have joint pain you can use light weights or keep off it altogether.



The hammer workout uses a limited range of motion, which could tempt you to rush through it and use quick movements so that you finish it as fast as possible.

If you rush through it, there’s a high chance you’ll be using momentum instead of slow and controlled motions which will enhance your ability to build strength in the target muscles.

Try to take your time as you lift the weights and lower them to allow you have enough control of your motions and focus on using the correct form.

Slowing your motions will also make the exercise more challenging, since you have to engage your target muscles for a longer time.


It’s always very tempting to let your elbows float away from your body as you curl your arms.

While this could engage other muscles involved in the lift, such as your deltoids, it could make you shift focus from your biceps to these other muscles.

Try to keep your elbows in a fixed and stable position and focus on moving only your lower arm during the hammer workout.

If you find yourself unable to lift the dumbbells without moving your elbow, that could be a sign that you are lifting too much weight.


While this exercise is safe for most people, those with injuries in their lower arms may need to do a different exercise or a less challenging variation.

Tension in your biceps is an indication that the exercise is working, but if the tension gets so uncomfortable that it almost feels painful, you should stop that rep immediately.

Stay consistent, maintain the correct form and get ready to see amazing results!

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