How To Do Incline Hammer Curls For Bigger Biceps
Everybody loves an arm workout in the gym. More specifically, everybody loves training their biceps. Rightly or wrongly, big biceps are definitely a statement of strength and an aesthetic physique. Incline Hammer Curls
I don’t know too many gym-goers that don’t want their bicep muscles to be just that little bit bigger. As a result of their constant pursuit of bicep mass, “what is the best biceps exercise” is a question asked very frequently by the masses.
You will hear various different answers: barbell curls, chin-ups and preacher curls are some of the more common ones. However, I feel that one of the exercises to be left off of the list by many people are incline hammer curls.
Incline hammer curls are in fact an awesome bicep-builder and I’m going to use this article to show you why and how to do them effectively.
Benefits Of Incline Hammer Curls
Before I get on to showing you how to perform them in order to get the most out of them, I think it is important to know exactly what makes incline hammer curls such a great choice for your bicep training. Here is a list and a quick explanation of their main benefits:
Greater Range Of Motion
With a standing variation of a curl, your body actually ends up cutting short the curl’s full range of motion. This problem is even worse with a barbell curl since the bar hits your body before your biceps reach a full stretch.
Even with dumbbells that clear your body, you still miss out on the final stretch, which is provided by some shoulder extension. You see, your biceps are only responsible for movement at your elbows. They also provide a small amount of assistance for shoulder flexion, which is the act of raising your arm straight out in front of your body.
Therefore, shoulder extension, which is the opposite of shoulder flexion, will stretch provide a stretch on your biceps. In a normal standing position with dumbbells, it is almost impossible to achieve this stretch under load. However, sitting on an incline bench with your back flat against the pad sets your biceps behind your shoulders in the start position.
In this position, your shoulders are extended and your biceps are fully stretched at the start of each rep. Meaning you get to take advantage of the complete range of motion.
More Work Done By The Biceps
This again is related to the position you will take up on the incline bench. Not only does the increase in range of motion lead to more work being done by your biceps, the use of an incline bench will make them work harder too.
The incline position does not allow for as many other muscles to get involved in the curling movement. With a standing curl, it is very easy to start bringing other muscles into play. For example, swinging in order to use momentum is easily done when standing but much harder with an incline curl. It is also not possible to use your lower back to assist you on an incline bench since it should be pushed flat against the pad.
Eliminating this kind of “cheating” does mean that you will likely need to lighten the weight but it will lead to a more targeted workout for your biceps.
Emphasizes The Long Head Of The Bicep
Your actual bicep muscles are split into two main heads: the long head and the short head. Your short head is the muscle that runs on the inside and the long head is on the outside.
Any type of curl you do is going to work all muscles of the bicep but each curl variation will change the emphasis that is put on each head of the bicep.
By using a hammer grip, where your palms face each other, more work is forced upon the long head of your bicep. This is great news if you are looking for the appearance of bigger arms.
The long head of your biceps muscle is the one that is going to be visible most of the time. When you are walking or standing with your arms by your sides, the outer part of your biceps is most visible. So, if you want bigger looking arms, your long head needs some attention.
This isn’t to say that you should ignore the rest of your arm, it’s just another great excuse to include incline hammer curls in your training program.
How To Perform Incline Hammer Curls
Now that you know how great incline hammer curls are for building some big guns, you’re probably pretty fired up to add them to your next arm workout. First, you need to make sure you are doing them effectively.
Here is the step by step breakdown on how to perform incline hammer curls correctly:
- Set and adjustable bench to around a 45-degree incline angle.
- Grip a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip. Also known as a “hammer grip”, this is where your palms are facing inwards towards each other.
- Set your back flat against the bench with your shoulders pinned back and down. Keep your chest out and shoulders back throughout the entire set.
- Curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders. As mentioned, keep your shoulder pinned back against the bench. The movement stops when your elbow can no longer bend any further.
- Lower the dumbbells to the start position and repeat.
Bonus tip: as soon as your arms are straight, rapidly reverse the movement begin your next rep. This will initiate a stretch reflex, which can help to recruit a larger number of muscle fibres.
As a side note, this is why I recommend curling both arms at the same time. Pausing one arm to allow for alternating curls removes the stretch reflex.
Final Thoughts On Incline Hammer Curls
If you want to build yourself some sleeve busting pipes, add this exercise to your routine.
Don’t be afraid to switch up the rep ranges for this one. Biceps respond well to slightly lower rep ranges and the hammer grip does allow for some heavier weight to be used. Try adding in some sets of 5 or 6 reps and I’m sure your arms will respond positively.
The main factor with this exercise is to put a focus on maintaining strict technique.
Most of the benefits of the incline position revolve around it enforcing better form, and in turn, better bicep recruitment. So, if you’re going to be adding in some incline hammer curls, don’t detract from the advantages by using sloppy technique.
With that key point in mind, all that is left is for you to try them for yourself. As always, be sure to let me know how you find this exercise in the comment section below. Maybe you already use incline hammer curls in your training. If so, comment below with your thoughts!