Do you want bigger, stronger biceps? If so, you need to be doing the right exercises. There are many different biceps curl variations out there, but not all of them are created equal.
The standard bicep curl, hammer curl, and reverse curl each work the biceps brachii, brachialis, and forearm muscles differently for different results. If you want big biceps or bigger forearms, you need to add curl exercises to your routine.
In this blog post, we will compare three of the most popular bicep curl variations: the standard bicep curl, the hammer curl, and the reverse curl.
We will also discuss the muscle worked, the benefits of each exercise, how to do it correctly, and which one is best for you.
- Standard Bicep Curl vs Hammer Curl vs Reverse Curl: What is the Difference
- 1. Standard Bicep Curl
- 2. Hammer Curl
- 3. Reverse Curl
- Best One For You
- 1. Standard Bicep Curl
- Standard Bicep Curl Muscle Worked
- Benefits Regular Bicep Curl
- How To Do Regular Bicep Curl
- 2. Hammer Curl
- Hammer Curl Muscle Worked
- Benefits Of Hammer Curl
- How To Do Dumbbell Hammer Curl
- 3. Reverse Curl
- Dumbbell Reverse Curl Muscle Worked
- Benefits Of Reverse Curl
- How To Do Dumbbell Reverse Curl
- Bicep Curl Vs Reverse Curl
- Are Hammer Curls or Bicep Curls Better?
- Reverse Curls Vs Hammer Curls: Which Exercise Is Better?
- Hammer Curl vs. Reverse Curl: When Should You Do Each?
- Should I do hammer curls or bicep curls first?
- Are reverse curls easier than regular curls?
- Do reverse curls build forearms?
- 15 Best Biceps Exercises To Build Bigger and Muscular Arm
Standard Bicep Curl vs Hammer Curl vs Reverse Curl: What is the Difference
Here is a comparison of the three most popular bicep curl variations to help you decide which one is right for you.
1. Standard Bicep Curl
- Grip: In the standard bicep curl, your palms are facing upward (supinated grip) as you hold the dumbbells or barbell.
- Muscle Emphasis: This curl primarily targets the biceps brachii muscle.
- Benefits: The standard bicep curl focuses on building overall bicep size and strength, particularly the peak of the bicep.
2. Hammer Curl
- Grip: In the hammer curl, your palms are facing each other (neutral grip) as you hold the dumbbells.
- Muscle Emphasis: This curl works both the long of the biceps, and the brachialis muscle.
- Benefits: Contribute to overall bicep development while also targeting the brachialis. Which can make your forearm thicker and stronger.
3. Reverse Curl
- Grip: In the reverse curl, your palms are facing downward (pronated grip) as you hold the barbell or dumbbells.
- Muscle Emphasis: The primary focus of the reverse curl is on the brachialis muscle and the brachioradialis muscle (a forearm muscle), with some activation of the biceps.
- Benefits: Help to improve forearm strength and size.
Best One For You
- If you are looking to build overall muscle mass in the biceps, then the standard bicep curl is a good option.
- If you want to make your arms stronger and more balanced, the hammer curl is a good choice.
- If you are looking to strengthen the brachioradialis muscle (forearm muscles), the reverse curl is a good option.
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1. Standard Bicep Curl
If you want to make your bicep bigger, the standard curl is the best choice. It focuses on the biceps brachii, the muscles at the front of your arms that make your bicep bigger.
The Standard Bicep Curl is a classic bicep-building exercise that is known for its simplicity and effectiveness. This exercise involves lifting a weight (usually a dumbbell or a barbell) with an underhand grip.
Unlike its friends, the Hammer Curl and the Reverse Curl, the Standard Bicep Curl locks onto your biceps with laser precision.
There are different ways to do a standard bicep curl in order to build a bigger and stronger biceps.
Note: In the study conducted, they found that the EZ barbell curl showed the highest overall electromyography (EMG) activity in the biceps brachii (BB) and brachioradialis (BR) muscles compared to the dumbbell curl (DC) and barbell curl (BC) variants.
Standard Bicep Curl Muscle Worked
Benefits Regular Bicep Curl
- Allows you to lift heavier weights.
- Works all the heads of the biceps
- It is a relatively easy exercise to learn.
- Better mind-muscle connection.
- It can be performed with a variety of weights and resistance levels.
- Easier to progressively overload.
How To Do Regular Bicep Curl
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a supinated grip (palms facing up).
- Exhale and slowly curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders
- Continue to raise the dumbbells until your forearms are perpendicular to the ground.
- To take a brief pause, squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement.
- Inhale as you slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
- Keep tension on the biceps throughout the entire range of motion.
- Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions for each set.
2. Hammer Curl
Are you looking for an exercise that can take your arm training to new heights? Look no further than hammer curls. While traditional bicep curls are popular, hammer curls offer a fresh twist and offer a range of unique benefits.
It’s very similar to the biceps curl, with the only difference being the neutral (hammer) hand position. It is one of the best exercises that you can do to build your forearm and bicep muscles.
Hammer curls work the brachialis muscle, which is underneath the biceps and makes the upper arm thicker. They also work the brachioradialis muscle, which is important for grip strength and forearm size.
There are different ways to do a hammer curl:
Hammer Curl Muscle Worked
The hammer curl targets the upper and lower arm muscles — most notably the brachialis and brachioradialis. The hammer curl has the involvement of several synergist muscles, these muscles include, biceps Brachii,
Benefits Of Hammer Curl
- Hammer curl Improved grip strength and overall forearm development.
- Works the biceps, forearms, brachialis, and brachioradialis
- Neutral grip may take pressure off the wrists and elbows
- Places the primary stress on the long (outer) head of the biceps.
- This will help you challenge your muscles and prevent workout plateaus.
- It allows for a greater range of motion compared to traditional bicep curls.
How To Do Dumbbell Hammer Curl
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Keep your core engaged and spine neutral.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). Hands should be hanging down by your sides.
- Exhale and slowly curl the dumbbells upward by contracting your biceps
- Continue to curl until the dumbbells are close to your shoulders.
- Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement.
- Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
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3. Reverse Curl
Reverse bicep curls can be your secret weapon in your quest to build a bigger biceps and forearm. The dumbbell reverse curl is a variation of the standard dumbbell biceps curl. In which you hold the dumbbells with your palms facing down (overhead grip).
This exercise is commonly used to strengthen the forearms, improve grip strength, and contribute to a more balanced arm development.
There are many variations of reverse grip dumbbell curl that you can add to your workout routine, and all have their own unique benefits.
- Cable Reverse Curl
- Dumbbell Reverse Curl
- Barbell Reverse Curl
Dumbbell Reverse Curl Muscle Worked
The reverse curl primarily targets the muscles in the forearm, specifically the brachioradialis. Additionally, there are other muscles that come into play as secondary stabilizers during the reveres curl, Biceps Brachii, Brachialis,
A handful of other muscles worked or play the role of stabilizer muscles, including your Wrist Extensors and flexor and Rectus abdominis.
Benefits Of Reverse Curl
- Reverse curls are a great way to isolate and strengthen the brachioradialis muscle of the forearms.
- They can help to improve grip strength.
- Improve bicep peak by targeting the long head of the bicep.
- Allow for better contraction at the top of the curl.
- Reduce stress on the wrists and elbow joints.
How To Do Dumbbell Reverse Curl
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Grab a dumbbell in each hand using a (palm facing down) overhand grip.
- Keep your upper arms stationary and your back straight.
- Exhale and Curl the dumbbell towards your shoulders.
- Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired 8-12 reps and 3-4 sets.
Bicep Curl Vs Reverse Curl
The bicep curl and the reverse curl are two popular exercises for building muscle in the arms. However, they target different muscles and have different benefits.
|Mainly targets the biceps brachii.
|Primarily targets the brachioradialis muscle in the forearm.
|Engages brachialis and brachioradialis muscles in a supporting role.
|Also involves brachialis and biceps brachii muscles, to a lesser extent.
|Promotes bicep growth and strength, contributing to a more defined upper arm.
|Enhances grip strength and helps to develop the forearm size.
|It involves lifting weights with an underhand grip.
|Uses an overhand grip that targets the forearms.
- If you are looking to build overall muscle mass in the biceps, the bicep curl is a good option.
- If you are looking to isolate and strengthen the brachioradialis muscle, the reverse curl is a good option.
Are Hammer Curls or Bicep Curls Better?
Both hammer curls and bicep curls are effective exercises for building muscle in the biceps. However, they target different muscles and have different benefits.
- Hammer curls target the biceps brachii and brachialis muscles. They’re a good option for people who are looking to build balanced arm size.
- Bicep curls target the biceps brachii muscle more specifically. They are a good choice for people who want to make their biceps bigger.
Reverse Curls Vs Hammer Curls: Which Exercise Is Better?
If you want to build bigger and stronger biceps, hammer curls are a better choice than reverse curls. But if you want to work on your forearms, reverse curls are better than hammer curls.
Here’s a quick summary of the battle between hammer curls vs reverse curls:
- Hammer curls are a great exercise for strengthening your biceps and brachialis muscles.
- Reverse curls are a more effective exercise for engaging the brachioradialis and other forearm muscles.
- Hammer curls are more suitable for building bicep strength and mass.
- Reverse curls are a good option for people who want to improve their grip strength and forearm development.
Hammer Curl vs. Reverse Curl: When Should You Do Each?
If you are doing both exercises in the same workout, I recommend doing the hammer curl first. This is because the hammer curl is a compound exercise that can handle heavier weights. Following with reverse curls will allow you to target the entire group of biceps and forearm muscles.
Should I do hammer curls or bicep curls first?
Start with hammer curls if you’re aiming to lift heavier weights, as they can handle the load. Follow up with bicep curls for a well-rounded bicep workout. The sequence matters – it’s about maximizing muscle engagement for better gains.
Are reverse curls easier than regular curls?
Reverse curls are often considered slightly more challenging than regular curls due to their emphasis on forearm muscles. Regular curls primarily focus on the biceps, which can make them comparatively easier for some individuals.
Do reverse curls build forearms?
Yes, reverse curls are good for building forearm strength and muscle development because they work the forearm muscles, especially the brachioradialis.
In the realm of bicep and forearm sculpting, the battle of Standard Bicep Curl vs. Hammer Curl vs. Reverse Curl has unfolded. Each curl variety brings its unique strengths to the table, offering a palette of options to craft your dream arms.
The Standard Bicep Curl stands as the timeless favourite, amplifying bicep growth and providing a solid foundation for beginners. Despite its simplicity, it is a staple of many bicep workouts.
Hammer Curl brings a versatile approach to the arena. It’s a good choice for people who want a well-rounded arm look and strength.
Then comes the Reverse Curl, a powerhouse for forearm domination. This tool helps people improve their grip strength and focus on their forearms. It’s important for anyone who wants to make their forearms stronger and better.
The key is to understand your goals, listen to your body, and make a routine that fits your unique fitness journey.
- Marcolin G, Panizzolo FA, Petrone N, Moro T, Grigoletto D, Piccolo D, Paoli A. Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl. PeerJ. 2018 Jul 13;6:e5165. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5165. PMID: 30013836; PMCID: PMC6047503.
- Oliveira et al. (2009) Oliveira LF, Matta TT, Alves DS, Garcia MAC, Vieira TMM. Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii EMG in different dumbbell curls. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2009;8(1):24–29.
- Kostek, Mark T.; Knortz, Karen Kinesiology Corner, National Strength Coaches Association Journal: December 1980 – Volume 2 – Issue 6 – p 55-55
- Krings, B. M., Shepherd, B. D., Swain, J. C., Turner, A. J., Chander, H., Waldman, H. S., … Smith, J. W. (2019). Impact of Fat Grip Attachments on Muscular Strength and Neuromuscular Activation During Resistance Exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000002954
- Kostek, Mark T.; Knortz, Karen. Kinesiology Corner: The Bicep Curl and the Reverse Bicep Curl. National Strength Coaches Association Journal: December 1980 – Volume 2 – Issue 6 – p 55-55
15 Best Biceps Exercises To Build Bigger and Muscular Arm
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.