Cross body hammer curls

Image of how to do cross body hammer curls

Introduction

Type: Strength

Main Muscle Worked: Biceps

Secondary muscles worked: Forearms

Equipment: Dumbbell

Level: Beginner

What is the Cross body hammer curl?

Surprisingly, I often get asked the question of “what is the cross body hammer curl”, Cross body hammer curls are a simple bicep exercise that strengthens, tones, and sculpts the arms for a more shaped and then sculpted upper body. The cross body hammer curl is slightly different than the Bicep Curl as it uses complimentary muscles and muscle fibers to work the biceps from all angles. If you learn how to do the cross body hammer curl with good form you can put it together with a Bicep Curl all in one set for a good, balanced workout.

As you may know, a traditional bicep curl keeps your arms down by your side with palms facing up and the biceps squeeze the dumbbells up to the shoulders. If you learn how to do cross body hammer curls you are turning the palms inward and when lifting the dumbbells you use added muscle fibers that surround the biceps, which you don’t usually get in a regular bicep curl.

For some people, the cross body hammer curl is a great alternative to the bicep curl if wrist weakness or injury is present. The Hammer Curl turns the wrist into a more neutral safe position.

For extra safety, lift heavier weights and support I recommend buying a pair of wrist straps as they help a lot, the ones I use are here: Wrist straps

Cross body hammer curls can be done either both arms moving in unison or in more of a “hammer” motion, lifting one, and then the other. In either case, be sure to soften your knees and stand in a strong position with your core engaged the entire time. Be sure to keep things strong, after the curl you should always slowly lower the arm back down until it is just along the side of your body.

Muscles Worked in cross body hammer curlsMuscles worked in cross body hammer curls


primary: biceps brachii, brachialis

secondary: brachioradialis

Benefits of cross body hammer curls

Not only do they just work the bicep, but they also work:

Wrists

The cross body hammer curl is done with the wrists in a neutral position, rather than being supinated and/or pronated. So by including neutral wrist movements into a training program, you can increase stability and strength of the muscles surrounding the wrist, which enhance overall injury resilience of the wrist joint and the surrounding tissues.

For extra safety, lift heavier weights and support I recommend buying a pair of wrist straps as they help a lot, the ones I use are here: Wrist straps

Grip

The cross body hammer curl can be integrated into any strength, power, and fitness programs to increase your grip strength, forearm hypertrophy, and muscle endurance. This is very valuable for all lifters who are looking to pull heavier loads in other exercises such as in the concentration curl and for general everyday use.

Forearms

Additionally, cross body hammer curls also target the main muscles of the forearm which are responsible for elbow flexion and grip strength, further enhancing grip performance.

How to do cross body hammer curls correctly

If you need a dumbbell one can be purchased here: Dumbbells

Image of how to do the cross body hammer curl

  1. 1. Start off standing up straight and grabbing a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing inward.
  2. 2. While keeping your palms facing in, curl the dumbbell up towards the opposite shoulder, isolating the bicep and squeezing the muscle.
  3. 3. Continue bringing the dumbbell up to touch the shoulder until you feel a stretch in your bicep and hold for a count.
  4. 4. Return back to the starting position

Repeat for desired reps

Mistakes commonly made in the cross body hammer curl

Momentum

When performing the cross body hammer curl do not use your momentum to lift the weights as this actually reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Quickly moving the weights allows momentum to reduce the tension within the muscles, especially at the top of the lift which reduces how much your muscles end up working in the exercise. 

Bent Back

It is important that when performing the cross body hammer curl that you should keep your back straight and brace your abs throughout the exercise instead of performing with a rounded back and careless abs.

Too Heavy Weights

The cross body hammer curl is an exercise where you should never lift weights that would cause you to fail at the end of a set and prevent you from doing the last few reps, this can stress the joints and sometimes even lead to injury.

Wrist Position

When performing the cross body hammer curl your wrists should always be in a neutral position, not bent up or down. If you find that you cannot maintain a neutral position throughout, this means that the weights are too heavy.

Safety when performing cross body hammer curls

This exercise is recommended for most people. Although if you have any arm injury or experience any pain during the motion, do not continue and stop the exercise. Although you should still talk to your doctor or physical therapist about if cross body hammer curls are suitable for you.

When performing cross body hammer curls you can expect to feel fatigue and possibly burning in your biceps after a few reps, and this is to get your muscles to get stronger and grow. However, do not force extra repetitions once you are unable to perform the cross body hammer curls with good form. You should then take a rest before doing the next set.

Also, do not lift a heavy weight to begin with, don’t rush to get to heavier weights before you’re strong enough to do it with ease. Using a weight which is to heavy for you can result in Injury to the elbow or wrist, and that will affect your entire workout routine.

Variations of cross body hammer curls

Standard hammer curls

Image of how to do standard hammer curls

  1. 1. Grip a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing each other) and hold the weights at your sides
  2. 2. Keeping your torso stationary, flex at the elbow to raise the dumbbells towards your shoulders
  3. 3. Stop just short of the dumbbell touching your shoulder. Hold at the top of the position for a moment
  4. 4. Return the dumbbells to the starting position in a controlled manner to complete one rep

Repeat for desired reps

You can also perform Alternating Hammer Curls by curling one arm at a time

Incline hammer curls

Image of how to do incline hammer curl

  1. 1. Start off by setting up an incline bench to either a 30 or 45 degree angle and then position yourself behind the bench, with a dumbbell in one hand rested over the bench and knees bent on the floor.
  2. 2. Hold the dumbbell in a neutral grip with your palms facing inward, then slowly lift the dumbbell up towards your shoulder, isolating the bicep and hold for a count.
  3. 3. Return back to the starting position.

Repeat for desired reps

Write below in the comments your opinion on the cross body hammer curl, if it works for you and any questions you might have.

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