Having big, muscular arms is a common goal for many gym-goers.
Big arms doesn’t just mean bulging biceps though.
There are other parts of your arms that need to be considered when trying to make them bigger.
One area that some people struggle to build is the forearms.
Despite there being some specific exercises for this area, most tend to isolate the forearms and not really work other muscle groups at the same time.
This can be detrimental to your training if you only have a set period of time for your workouts.
Hammer curls are a popular arm exercise. In this article, we take a deeper look at them to see if they can be good for our forearms as well as our biceps.
Are Hammer Curls Good For Forearms?
Hammer curls are a great bicep-building exercise.
The exercise doesn’t just work your biceps though as other muscle groups and body parts come into play during the movement.
Hammer curls may primarily be a bicep exercise but they also work your forearms and wrists.
Performing hammer curls on a regular basis can strengthen your grip as well as adding size and strength to your upper arms.
Why Hammer Curls Are Good For Your Forearms
The brachioradialis (forearm muscle) is responsible for helping the brachialis (upper arm muscle deeper than the bicep) flex the elbow.
As hammer curls involve lots of elbow flexion, the forearm muscle has to engage quite a lot to allow the movement to happen.
As your forearms are secondary muscle groups being used in hammer curls, after the biceps, they engage during the exercise resulting in increased size and strength.
How To Target Your Forearms More When Doing Hammer Curls
Hammer curls are already effective at engaging your forearms enough to help develop size and strength in them.
The hammer motion of the movement and the grip strength required do a great job at making your forearms work throughout the exercise.
Changing to reverse grip dumbbell curl (reverse curl) could bring your forearms into play a little bit more, but this would be moving away from the hammer curl movement.
If you’re looking for an arm exercise that builds biceps and forearms – hammer curls are a good way to go.
Are Hammer Curls Better Than Reverse Curls For Forearms?
Hammer curls and reverse curls both work your forearms.
The amount of muscle activation is fairly similar in both movements, so it can be hard to know which one to do if you’re trying to work your forearms.
The biggest difference between hammer curls and reverse curls is your grip and the adaptability you have with each one.
Hammer curls can only be performed with dumbbells. And you would usually have a much stronger grip in the hammer position.
Reverse curls can be performed with dumbbells or a barbell, but your grip will likely be weaker throughout the movement.
As your grip is stronger in hammer curls compared to reverse curls, it could be suggested that hammer curls are better for forearms as you can challenge them with more weight.
The limitation of only being able to use dumbbells for hammer curls though gives some preference back to reverse curls.
Ultimately, both exercises work very similar muscles in very similar ways, so your personal preference will probably be the biggest deciding factor when choosing between the two.
Are Hammer Curls Better Than Dumbbell Curls For Forearms?
Probably the most famous of all arm exercises is the bicep curl.
This can be done with either a barbell or dumbbells, and can help develop some big gains in your arm size.
If your goal is to work your biceps harder in the hope of gaining the sought-after bicep peak, dumbbell curls will be of more use to you.
Dumbbell curls engage the long head of your biceps more resulting in quicker size gains.
Hammer curls take some focus away from the biceps (although it’s still the primary muscle group being worked) and put a bit more emphasis on your forearms and wrists.
If your goal is to build more size and strength in your arms as a whole, and not just in your upper arms, hammer curls can be a better choice than dumbbell curls.
A good arm workout might actually include different variations of the standard bicep curl, so it might be that your program requires you to perform both versions of the exercise.
Are Hammer Curls Enough For Building Forearms?
The amount you want to build your forearms will come down to your personal goals.
With that in mind, hammer curls may or may not be enough for building forearms.
Building general arm size and strength requires variations of exercises, to focus on different muscles that have to work at various intensities.
If you want slight improvement in your forearm size, this can likely be achieved with your standard arm workout that includes hammer curls.
If you have a goal of trying to add some serious size and strength to your forearms, then hammer curls will not be enough for your forearms.
To increase the amount of work your forearms are doing, there are exercises designed to target them more specifically.
Some of these forearm specific exercises include:
- Wrist curls
- Towel roll-ups
- Reverse wrist curls
Working all the muscles in your arms equally is a good idea, so incorporating a range of upper and lower arm exercises can benefit your overall arm size and strength.
That’s all for this article, but you may be interested in drag curl vs hammer curl?
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.