Seated Hammer Curls with Dumbbells: How To Do & Muscles Worked

Seated Hammer Curls with Dumbbells: How To Do & Muscles Worked

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Seated Hammer Curls are one of the most effective exercises to pump up your arms. It is suitable for both beginners and more experienced athletes. The technique of doing this exercise is quite simple and the risk of injury is minimal.

Many athletes consider Dumbbell Hammer Curls the main exercise for gaining muscle mass and increasing the volume mass of their arms. Many of those who regularly use dumbbell curls have impressive biceps and forearms, as well as good grip strength.

Two bicep exercises and three tricep exercises are enough for a full out arm workout. You will create all the prerequisites for further hypertrophy if you use DB Hammer Curls and Barbell Bicep Curls.

Review of the Seated Hammer Curls

The name of the exercise reflects the movement and how the dumbbell is held during the curl. This movement is very similar to hammering nails with a hammer. We do not turn the hand, but hold it parallel to the body while the palms look at each other. The load is completely different than with the classic dumbbell curls on the biceps with supination or with an expanded arm. The biceps work a lot less.

Most of the load is shifted to the brachialis, brachioradialis, and forearm muscles. This is especially true for those who have a well-developed biceps, but the total volume is not enough and visually the arm seems thin. More muscles take part in the work, therefore it’s possible to increase the working weights. Usually athletes use a weight 10-20% higher when doing Seated Hammer Curls than when doing classic dumbbell curls.

The Brachialis is a small muscle that runs under the biceps. It is designed so that if it is sufficiently developed, its “pushes” the biceps out. Due to this, the arm becomes more massive. Also, the forearms become more voluminous and stronger, which makes your grip stronger. This is an added benefit for all weight lifting especially for the Deadlift where a reliable grip is needed if not using lifting straps, and a developed bicep will serve as a good stabilizer in the Bench Press.

What Muscles Does Seated Hammer Curls Work?

The biceps and brachialis do the bulk of the work. The Brachioradialis is also engaged. The static load falls on the anterior bundles of the deltoid muscles, triceps and trapezius muscles. Stabilizers are the extensors of the spine and the muscles of the press, if you do the exercise standing. The workload on the stabilizer muscles is reduced to almost zero when doing Seated Hammer Curls. However you will be able to isolate the exercise to a higher degree and avoid cheating while sitting on a bench. As a result, the workload on the arm muscles will increase and the effectiveness of the exercise will increase.

seated dumbbell hammer curls

How to do Seated Hammer Curls?

If you do not feel the isolated work of the target muscle groups during Dumbbell Hammer Curls, then you are doing something wrong.

Seated Hammer Curls are done as follows:

  1. Take the dumbbells from the wight rack and sit on the bench. Straighten your arms completely and keep them parallel to the body. Keep your back straight and eyes directed forward. Keep your elbows as close to your ribs as possible.
  2. Start bending your arms at the elbows and lift the dumbbells up. Arm muscles prefer a constant load, so the option of alternate lifting of the dumbbells is not recommended. Lift both dumbbells simultaneously or do the planned number of reps with one arm first, and then with the other. The number of reps you are able to complete in this approach vs alternate Hammer Curls will be reduced, since you will not rest for a second or two after each repetition, but the blood supply to the muscles will be much stronger.
  3. The next important point is the amplitude of the movement. Bend your arms to approximately the right angle between the forearm and biceps. Lifting dumbbells is accompanied by exhalation. It is not necessary to do this strictly in the vertical plane. Turn your arms slightly inward, then the load will shift to the brachioradialis and the small muscles of the forearm. The biceps will work more if you turn your hands slightly outward and push your elbows even harder against the body.
  4. It is advisable to have a small pause and additionally statically strain the muscles of the arms at the upper point. This simple technique is to strengthen the pumping. Of course, doing curls in this style is much more difficult than without a pause. When using the pause technique, you may also find that you will do 2-3 reps less than usual.
  5. Lower your hands gently down while inhaling. Lowering the dumbbells should be about twice as slow as lifting them. It is important not to relax your arms. You need to feel the muscles stretch. You do not need to fully straighten your arms, relax and linger at the bottom point. On the contrary, it is better to work without pauses and not even fully extend the elbows at the bottom. You should aim for at least 10 reps in 1 set.

Other Dumbbell Hammer Curls variations (standing, lying on an inclined bench or using the Scott Bench) are technically no different from the Seated Hammer Curls.

Beginner Mistakes

It often happens that an athlete thinks that technically he is doing everything right, but there is no result. The solution to the problem lies in the word “thinks”. Just lifting the dumbbell up is a simple matter. It is much more difficult to work out a specific muscle group and thereby make it grow. This is the basis of bodybuilding. The tips below will help you do this.

Heavy Weight

Using too much weight is a very common mistake. We are not interested in power circuits like 5×5 here. An arm workout should be voluminous and with high-intensity. You should stick to a fairly high range of reps: 10-15-20-25-30. All of these options have a place within your arm workout. The sets should be heavy and it’s important to properly chose the correct load and give the muscles enough time to recover. You will definitely see the results.

Another argument is inextricably linked to the previous one. Many athletes forget about the technique of doing exercises and using a huge weight. This does not result in proper technique of the Hammer Curl, but an incomprehensible throwing of the dumbbell up with the whole body. The legs, back, shoulders, and other muscle groups begin to engage. Then the muscles relax and the dumbbell falls down with great speed, creating a monstrous load on the elbow ligaments. Don’t do that as you will most likely also cause yourself an injury. Focus on doing all exercises as correctly as possible.

Wrong Amplitude

The wrong amplitude of motion is also not the best way to affect the effectiveness of the exercise performed. There is no need to try and lift the dumbbell to almost the level of the shoulder. The load on the biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis drops to zero after passing a right angle. In addition, this leads to a violation of the technique. You will also involuntarily bring your shoulder forward by lifting the dumbbell too high. This will increase the load on the ligaments and rotator cuff of the shoulder. It will also be very easy to get injured. Try to work in a continuous manner. Do not pass the last few centimeters at the bottom of the amplitude, so you will load the muscles of the arms much more than if you paused after each repetition.


Excessive use of cheating is also bad. Many people forget that cheating is primarily a way to increase the intensity of workouts, but not an option for doing the exercise. You should not use it on a permanent basis and start doing the first reps of the set by cheating. Over time, this becomes a habit for those who often use it. As a result, they can no longer properly do Seated Hammer Curls. Use a bench with a raised back to avoid this habit. The neck, shoulders, shoulder blades, lower back and buttocks should be tightly pressed against the back. This way you won’t be able to physically cheat and will be able to focus on working that arm muscles.

seated db hammer curls


Please take special note of a few tips for implementing the Seated DB Hammer Curl:

  1. Always start the exercise after a thorough warm-up. The elbow joints need to be properly warmed up and prepared for work.
  2. Work in a single rhythm. Lift the dumbbells up for one second and lower them down for two seconds and continue to keep that cadence for the whole set. This will ensure good mental connection on the muscles worked.
  3. Keep the same body position throughout the entire set. The body should not be tilted forward. Also, always keep your elbows pressed as tightly against the body as possible.
  4. As an alternative, try doing Hammer Curls with one arm then the other. EG: 20 reps with the right arm, then 20 reps with the left. Then another 15, 10, and 5 reps. The muscles will get extremely pumped by the end of this set.

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