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Are Hammer Curls Harder Or Easier Than Bicep Curls?

If you’re wondering whether hammer curls are harder than bicep curls, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I explain why hammer curls can be more challenging than regular curls, as well as ways to increase the difficulty of hammer curls.

Man doing hammer curls

Are Hammer Curls Harder Than Bicep Curls?

At first glance, no, hammer curls aren’t harder than bicep curls. This isn’t the whole story though. 

As hammer curls use a neutral grip and a more comfortable arm position, they’re usually more comfortable and easier to perform than bicep curls. 

During a hammer curl, you’ll likely be able to lift more than you can during bicep curls.

This could suggest that the movement itself is slightly easier.

However, hammer curls tend to recruit more muscles during the exercise.

So, purely as an arm exercise, hammer curls could be considered harder and potentially more effective at increasing arm size and strength.

Why Some People Find Hammer Curls Harder

Weak Forearms And Wrists

During hammer curls, your forearms work a bit more than they do during standard bicep curls.

If you have weak forearm muscles, then hammer curls can be quite a challenging exercise to perform correctly.

Weak wrists can also play a part if you’re finding hammer curls particularly difficult. 

While the neutral grip position tends to be more comfortable than the supinated grip of bicep curls, weak wrists can struggle to hold the hammer position throughout the exercise.

Poor Technique

Most exercises that are found to be overly difficult can usually be linked to the incorrect technique being used.

Hammer curls may look like a very simple movement, but small errors in the technique can quickly make things harder than they should be.

Poor technique brings in (or removes) muscle groups from the movement resulting in the incorrect muscles working.

Why Some People Find Bicep Curls Harder

Too Many Reps And Sets

Many people try to perform far too many reps and sets of bicep curls, hoping that it can help them reach their goal of bigger arms quickly.

Your biceps are a small muscle group compared to others in your body.

It’s quite easy to overtrain them, resulting in discomfort, pain, injury, or lack of progress.

While it’s important to train your biceps enough for them to develop and grow, overtraining can be a reason why some people find biceps curls harder than they should.

Biceps need to be trained sufficiently to gain size and strength without overtraining, otherwise your progress can be slowed down.

Too Much Weight

In a bid to gain as much arm size as possible, many people try to lift too much during bicep curls.

This doesn’t actually help with size and strength gain.

Instead, it encourages poor technique and leaves you vulnerable to mistakes and injury.

If you’re finding bicep curls much harder than hammer curls, reducing the weight and ensuring the correct technique is being used can be a great idea.

Are Hammer Curls Harder Than Barbell Bicep Curls?

Both hammer curls and barbell curls are great exercises to do if you want bigger and stronger arms.

Hammer curls could be seen as being harder than barbell curls as the short head of the biceps is activated during the movement. This is smaller than the long head, which is primarily activated during barbell curls.

It’s worth keeping in mind though that your forearm muscles play more of a role in hammer curls, which removes some of the focus from your biceps.

If you’re just looking at it in terms of the effort needed from your biceps – barbell curls will be harder. 

As an overall arm exercise though, hammer curls might just come out as the harder of the two.

How To Make Hammer Curls Harder

One of the easiest ways to make hammer curls harder is to slow down the movement.

The slower you perform each rep, the longer the working muscles stay under tension which increases their workload.

Simply slowing down the speed of your reps can make your muscles work harder without adding any significant time to your training sessions. 

Increasing the weight being lifted is another simple way of making hammer curls harder.

As long as the weight is suitable for your current levels of strength, an extra few pounds on the dumbbells can make a big difference to your gains.


Hammer Curls Muscles Worked