Muscles Targeted: Cable rope hammer curls are great for developing the upper arm. They are an effective isolation exercise that mainly targets the bicep brachii muscle group, brachialis, and brachioradialis. They also affect the stabilizer muscles greatly. In this case the stabilizer muscles are the forearm muscles, parts of the front deltoids muscles and also the trapezius muscles to a lesser extent. This is an integral exercise for building muscle and increasing strength in the biceps and forearms.
Exercise Instructions: Choose a rope attachment and hook it onto a low pulley machine. Grab the rope with your palms facing in toward your body and stand straight up. Place your elbows at your sides and keep them tight against your body as you perform the exercise. Curl your arms up so as to have your hands trying to touch your shoulders, while keeping your wrists locked and your palms facing inward (do not supinate or “twist” your wrists when lifting the weight up). Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Why This Exercise is Important: This exercise is very important due to the fact that it helps to tone and balance the major muscle groups that are associated with the arms, forearms and front deltoids. This exercise will help build strength in the upper body which is beneficial when doing daily activities like picking up children, doing household chores and lifting heavy grocery bags.
The cable rope also assists in the upward motion which allows you to really squeeze the biceps muscle at the top for a peak contraction. Unlike other variations of the hammer curls, the rope attached on the end of the cable machine assists to give you the freedom to dictate the gap you require with minimum limitations and/or a fixed motion. It also helps with your grip due to the fact that you will be holding the rope tightly with your thumbs facing up.
Things To Avoid: Due to the attachment of the cable and rope to the machine, some people find themselves cheating their way through the exercise by either swinging or leaning forward without having proper stability. It is wise to place both feet flat on the floor and gain proper balance and weight distribution before starting the exercise. When performing standing cable rope hammer curls, your overall stability is crucial for executing the movement correctly while avoiding injuries.
It is very common for a person to use their strong arm and have it overcompensate for the other (a right-handed person will always try to lead with their right arm). This exercise is very risky for people with a big difference in the size and strength of each arm due to the fact that it’s difficult to gauge your physical exertion in your arms when performing this exercise. You might find that your dominant arm is carrying more weight than the weaker arm thus muscle growth on the stronger arm will be greater. Here are some technique tips to follow when performing this exercise:
- Always stand straight up with a flat back (don’t hunch your shoulders).
- Spread your legs shoulder width apart for optimal stability.
- Do not swing or “cheat” the weight up by arching your back.
- Do not lean in and lose stability with your lower body.
- Try to regulate your movement so that both arms move in unison.
Reps and Sets: It is always advised to start light and go heavier over time. If you are a beginner you should start off by including this exercise to your routine and performing just 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps. You may increase the weight and overall sets as you get stronger while maintaining strict form and proper technique.
Other Exercises To Use: Along with training your biceps, it’s also very important to include exercises that target your triceps. Some other great biceps and triceps exercises to include in an overall mass building arm workout include:
- Close Grip Barbell Curls
- Preacher Dumbbell Curls
- Straight Bar Cable Curls
- Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press
- EZ-Bar Triceps Extensions
- Bench Dips
View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the biceps.