Cross Body Hammer Curl

The cross body hammer curl is made for maximum contraction; this is how you craft wider and bigger biceps. This easy to do and easy to improve exercise is perfect for arm day.  Let's get straight into the good stuff. 

Hammer Curls For Arms like Thor

Mechanics: Isolation

Force: Pull

Aim: 3 sets of 8 - 12 reps or more depending on your targets and goals

How to perform the cross body hammer curl

  1. 1
    Get a set of dumbbells ready. It is easier to work one arm at a time when you use two dumbbells.
  2. 2
    Stand straight, and engage your core; activate your torso for proper posture. Put a slight bend in your knees.
  3. 3
    Grip the dumbbells in a protonated grip with your palms facing inwards.
  4. 4
    Keep your elbows locked at your sides.
  5. 5
    Start with one arm at a time.
  6. 6
    Begin contracting your muscles to curl the dumbbell across your body towards the opposite shoulder. You should contract your arm as hard as possible.
  7. 7
    Squeeze at the top of the contraction. 
  8. 8
    Slowly release and lower your arm back to the starting position.
  9. 9
    Switch arms and perform a rep with the other arm. You can complete a set full set on one arm before moving on to the other arm, or you can work one arm at a time.
  10. 10
    Keep your reps to at least 8 per arm.

Tip: Don't bring your arm above your chest height. The peak of the curl should be at your lower chest height. 

Cross Body Hammer Curl

The Muscles Targeted

Troy taking a selfie showing his biceps and shoulders

If you have ever stopped to think about perfectly proportioned arms, this is the one exercise that is perfect for the biceps and the forearms. The main muscles targeted are the brachioradialis in the forearm alongside the long head of the biceps brachii. 

Compared to standard hammer curls, the cross-body hammer curl creates perfect peaks on the biceps. Combining standard and cross-body curls together in a workout is excellent for a full arm workout

The Benefits

Why would do you need to add the cross body hammer curl to your arm workout? Here are a few reasons why.

Troy Bicep
  • Strength - Stronger forearms and biceps are perhaps some of the best reasons to include curls in your routine.
  • Stability - Strong wrists are essential for a number of different exercises. Reduced risk of injury is one of the many advantages of wrist stability.
  • Bone density - Hammer curls are perfect for improving your bone density.
Troy doing a hammer curl at the gym
  • Muscle endurance - Increase strength in the arms and shoulders enhances overall muscle endurance. Any bat-based sports player can benefit from upper body strength, in particular the biceps.
  • Overall performance improvement - From snatches to pull-ups, you can expect an improvement in your overall performance.

Common Mistakes

These are a few common mistakes that everyone makes. If you can avoid these, you will be well on your way to perfecting your biceps.

Troy's hands on dumbbells on the rack
  • Too heavy, too soon - One of the most common mistakes when performing the cross-body hammer curl is using a weight that is too heavy. The aim is not to use your lower back and hips as a springboard to bounce your arms up. Go for a lighter weight, leave your ego behind, perfect your form first. Once you have the technique down, go for gold with a heavier weight. 
  • The wrong direction – While this might not be the end of the world, many people get this part wrong. You need to bring your curl right up towards your opposite shoulder. Picture a carpenter hammering a nail into a piece of wood. Your elbow should hinge in a fixed position. The forearms complete the "cross-body" movement. You will feel the bicep muscles contract and almost widen.
  • Swinging momentum - It might be called a hammer curl; however, it is not a swinging hammer curl. Your brachialis and biceps should be under tension. Swinging and using momentum to drive the dumbbell up places the tension on the anterior deltoids.
  • Little to no recovery - Post-workout aftercare is essential with any exercise. Your arms will feel the burn and get a good pump. They will need to rest for at least 24 hours before another arm session for the best muscle growth. 
  • Routine placement- You should try adding hammer curls towards the end of your arm workout or avoiding any other exercise that targets the biceps. 
Troy performing a cross body hammer curl with correct form
  • Flaring your elbows - Keep your elbows close to your body; they shouldn't be flaring. If you feel your arms flare like the chicken dance, stop, close your eyes, and realign your torso and arms. Once you can feel your body is in place, continue with your sets.
  • Releasing tension too soon - Your muscles should be under tension for the entire exercise; you should be contracting and engaging your muscles from start to finish. Don't make the mistake of just releasing tension too soon.

Variations of The Cross-body Hammer Curl

Dumbbell Hammer Curls

A Dash of Tradition

Adding a traditional hammer curl in between each cross-body hammer curl is a great addition that thoroughly targets the biceps. Add that little twist in for the best arm workout.

multiple dumbbells on rack at the gym

A Subtle Change

Changing your weights and rep patterns is another way you can tailor the benefits of this bicep blasting exercise. 

  • Use a lower weight with higher reps for the best pump and definition.
  • For muscle growth and strength, opt for heavier weights and fewer reps.
Before and After Shredding

Time to Shred

We are all either growing or shredding or somewhere in between. You can make small changes to get the best out of your curls for whichever phase you are in.

  • Reducing the amount of time between each set is crucial to shredding. 
  • Enough rest between sets, with a slower tempo, will help you get that glorious pump and throbbing sensation in your biceps.

Building Blocks of Biceps

With the building blocks for bigger and better biceps, your curl game is about to get bigger and better. Exercises that target the biceps are not just for pro bodybuilders; they are there to improve your overall health and quality of life. 

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