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Find out which arm exercise can strengthen your entire body

While there is no magic formula for gaining strength, variety is essential . To this end, although the classic direct thread often highlighted for developing arm strength, another exercise focused on this deserves attention in your workouts: the hammer thread .

This powerful move not only builds arm muscles, but also improves overall body strength, function, stability and resilience.

The hammer curl is a variation of the barbell curl. One of the primary muscles targeted by this exercise includes the biceps and two other arm muscles: the brachialis, a muscle below the biceps that helps support the elbow joint, and the brachioradialis, a muscle in the forearm that increases grip strength.

As the name suggests, the hammer curl mimics the action of holding and using a hammer. Unlike the traditional biceps curl, which is performed with the palms facing up, this one is performed with the palms facing each other. This simple adjustment shifts the focus away from the muscle and toward more comprehensive strength development. This variation also takes the strain off the wrist and elbow, reducing the risk of overuse injuries and making it a safer option for those with joint problems.

The daily functional benefits of the hammer curl

Despite its somewhat shady reputation, hammer curls aren’t just for gym enthusiasts. This exercise can benefit anyone who wants to improve their ability to perform the physical tasks of daily life. Here’s a detailed list of benefits:

  • Because the neutral hand position required to perform the hammer curl exercise increases forearm and grip strength, it also increases your ability to hold and lift heavier weights for greater body strength gains in other exercises, as well as improved performance in other physical and athletic activities;
  • The push-up movement develops the arm and hand muscles needed for daily activities that require lifting, holding, and carrying, such as caring for children and performing household chores and manual labor around the house;
  • Improved grip strength also helps with opening jars, using tools, and completing basic household tasks, making this exercise particularly beneficial for older adults trying to maintain functional independence;
  • Controlled movement helps strengthen the muscles and tendons around the elbow and wrist joints, reducing the risk of common injuries associated with weaker muscles and improper lifting techniques;
  • With less wrist rotation than traditional exercises, hammer curls minimize the risk of injury, especially for people with previous wrist or elbow problems;
  • Performing hammer curl exercises correctly involves significant core engagement, which improves balance and overall strength.
  • Bonus: For those who want visibly more toned arms, this exercise strengthens the brachialis muscle, which sits behind the primary biceps brachii and increases the visibility of the muscle even when the arms are not flexed.

How to do the hammer curl exercise

To reap the full benefits of hammer curls, it’s crucial to perform them with proper form and a weight appropriate for your fitness level. Use a weight that feels challenging but is light enough that you can comfortably perform at least eight repetitions of the exercise with good form.

Be sure to pay attention to the breathing cues when performing this exercise, exhaling as you lift the weights and inhaling as you lower them. Proper breathing mechanics help maintain and strengthen core stability for the correct result.

See the step-by-step exercise:

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in. Alternatively, you can sit in a seated position, as long as you can sit forward enough on the edge of the seat so that the dumbbells hang unobstructed at your sides;
  2. Exhale as you slowly curl both dumbbells toward your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your torso to stay stable. Pause briefly at the top of the movement;
  3. Inhale as you lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the descent. Take your time, lowering your arms gradually, as the eccentric (lowering) phase is a crucial part of the exercise;
  4. Do 8 to 12 repetitions;
  5. Complete two to three sets of the desired number of repetitions, resting for at least one to two minutes between sets.

Optional variation: If you feel more comfortable lifting one arm at a time instead of both together, you can alternate right and left reps within each set to perform a total of 16 to 24 reps (8 to 12 reps on each arm) per set.

To maintain proper form and reduce your risk of injury, avoid these common mistakes:

  • Swing the dumbbells to use momentum to lift them instead of leaning into your core and relying on your arm strength;
  • Losing the correct position of the arms and letting the elbows flare out;
  • Using dumbbells that are too heavy or too light;
  • Neglecting the eccentric (lowering) phase and dropping the weights too quickly;
  • Forgetting to breathe properly and maintain core stability.

As you begin to feel stronger in the exercise, you can progress by increasing the weight of your dumbbells or the number of repetitions within the range of 8 to 12 repetitions. When you initially increase the weight, you will need to decrease your repetitions to maintain good form. This is OK as long as you can still perform a minimum of eight repetitions correctly.

Editor’s note: Consult your doctor before trying any new exercise. Stop immediately if you feel pain.

Making the most of this new exercise

To maximize the benefits of hammer curls, you need to incorporate them into your fitness routine a few times a week. They fit well into both arm-specific and full-body workout days.

They can also be alternated with other biceps and triceps exercises for a comprehensive arm workout or included in a circuit that features a mix of upper and lower body exercises.

Remember, the hammer curl is more than just an alternative to the barbell curl. By incorporating this exercise into your routine, you can significantly improve not only your arm strength, but also your functional abilities essential for daily activities and overall improvement in whole-body strength and resilience for years to come.

Editor’s Note: Dana Santas, known as the “Mobility Maker,” is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, as well as the author of the book “Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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