Muscles Targeted: Preacher hammer dumbbell curls is an exercise that is used for isolating the upper arms in order to build strength and size. The primary muscle that this exercise targets is the biceps brachii which consists of 2 heads (short head and long head). The bicep muscles function to supinate the forearm and flex the elbow. The secondary muscles targeted include the brachialis which lies deeper than the biceps brachii on the outside of the arm between the biceps and triceps. The brachioradialis (forearms) is also a secondary muscle involved in this exercise and it functions to control the action of the wrist and hand. Muscle stabilizers that are activated during this exercise are the front deltoids (shoulders), trapezius and core. You can increase activation of the biceps and forearm muscles by adding more resistance but always make sure to maintain proper exercise technique and form.
Exercise Instructions: Using a regular preacher bench, grab a dumbbell in each hand and position yourself on the bench with your palms facing inward toward one another. Simultaneously curl the dumbbells upward and bring the tip of each dumbbell a few inches away from your shoulders. Keep your wrists in a fixed position and do not twist them when you curl the dumbbells up. Slowly return the dumbbells back down to the starting position allowing some resistance (negative) on the eccentric portion of this exercise. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Why This Exercise is Important: This is one of the most popular and useful exercises for building large and muscular biceps. Strong biceps are required for all pulling exercises. Dumbbell curls also build strong forearms and wrists which is very helpful for heavy multi-joint mass building exercises like deadlifts. Dumbbells allow for a more natural movement since you’re lifting each arm independently and they give you a little better control over the weight. Dumbbells allow you to develop more independent strength for each arm than a barbell since your stronger arm will work harder when using a barbell. This is a great exercise for fixing imbalances in the arms. Preacher hammer dumbbell curls are a pretty basic exercise but there are a few things you want to make sure and follow. When you are performing dumbbell curls you need to plant your feet securely on the floor to maintain a stable base. Always use a very slow and controlled tempo as you lift the weight up and bring it back down. If your technique starts to suffer, you are most likely using too much weight so choose a lighter pair of dumbbells and make sure your form is spot-on.
Things To Avoid: Since this is a hammer curl, do not supinate (twist) your wrists when you curl the dumbbells up to the top. Maintaining a fixed position with your wrists throughout the entire range of motion is very important. When performing this exercise you need to avoid any fast or jerky movements with the dumbbells to reduce risk of injury and to increase the level of activation in your biceps. Doing this exercise with dumbbells is easier on your wrists than with a bar. A very common mistake is hunching the shoulders and curving the back, so make sure you have solid posture with a flat back and your shoulders back. Also, breathing is very important. When you curl the weight up you need to breathe out (exhale), and when you’re returning the dumbbells back down to the starting position you need to breathe in (inhale).
Reps and Sets: Preacher hammer dumbbell curls are best performed with a repetition scheme that matches your fitness goals. If you’re looking for mass and strength then keep your repetitions lower at around 6-8 reps per set. For more definition and endurance, perform 12-15 reps per set for optimal results. Beginners should only do 1-2 sets and more advanced trainees will do 2-3 sets. Avoid doing more than 7-8 total sets for your biceps workout. It’s a small muscle group so you don’t need to do endless sets and exercises.
Other Exercises To Use: There are several other exercises which you can include in your biceps workout routine along with preacher hammer curls. Another great exercise that will hit your biceps is standing alternating hammer curls. These are a great warm up exercise and can be done practically anywhere. If you find the dumbbells too challenging or you have pain in your wrists or arms when doing them, then try using cable rope hammer curls. This exercise gives you a more controlled movement and helps to reduce the risk of injury in the elbows. You can also try seated preacher cable curls or standing cable curls to hit the biceps and forearms. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the biceps.