Dumbbell Alternate Hammer Curl

Arm definition and a stronger grip are just a couple of reasons why you should add the alternate hammer curl to your strength training routine. This exercise uses a neutral grip which puts less stress on your wrists than the traditional bicep curl.

This grip causes the dumbbells to work your arms at a completely different angle creating a target of the top-side of the forearms. Don't worry, this alternate curl exercise will still help you to develop an impressive set of biceps.

Alternate Hammer Curl

As you can see by the pictures below, it's easy to see why this exercise is called the "hammer".

Exercise Instructions:

  • Stand straight up with your feet shoulder width apart and a pair of dumbbells at your sides, with your palms facing in. Bend your arms slightly so you can feel some tension in your biceps.
  • On an alternating basis, curl a dumbbell upward in a hammering type gesture to your shoulder level. 

  • Bring the weight down to the starting position and repeat the exercise with the other arm.

  • Continue doing the alternate hammer curl until you have completed your reps. 

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps with each arm

alternate hammer curl exercise position #1
alternate hammer curl exercise position #2


  • It is important that you don't swing the dumbbells with your body. Concentrate on being "machine-like" and hold your body in a fixed position as you do the curls.

Alternate Hammer Curl with Overhead Press

Curls are isolation exercises that only work the arms. By including the overhead press to the exercise, it becomes a compound exercise that works several different muscles at the same time. Working multiple muscle groups at the same time lets you perform fewer exercises and cut down on your gym hours. Compound exercises also increase strength and add lean muscle faster than isolation exercises.

Exercise Instructions:

  • Instead of alternating, bring both dumbbells up to your shoulder level at the same time. 
  • Turn your wrists so they are facing forward and extend the dumbbells straight up over your head doing an overhead press.
  • Bring the dumbbells back down to shoulder level, turn your palms back in and continue the curl and press repetitions.

hammer curl into overhead press exerciseKyle Demonstartating the Hammer Curl with Overhead Press

More Information on the Overhead Press


  1. Always keep some tension on your biceps as you bring the weights back down to your hip area. Try to keep your arms slightly bent at the bottom.

  2. Try to keep the movement of your arms in a fluid motion. Without swinging your body, you should try to get into a rhythm and have your dumbbells traveling in sync of each other. 

  3. Do not swing your body. You are not looking for any momentum from your body to move these weights. Let your arms do all of the work. Your body should stay in a fixed position through the entire exercise. VERY IMPORTANT!

Benefits of the Alternate Hammer Curl

  • Because it is a neutral grip exercise, it is more of a low impact exercise than the standard bicep curl. This means it will put less stress on your arm joints.
  • If arm definition is your goal, the hammer puts extra focus on the forearms. 

  • This curl is a nice change of pace exercise to compliment the bicep curl. You could actually include some other type of arm exercise like rows in between the two curl exercises to keep the intensity high for your curl exercises.

Other pages that might interest you:

I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.

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