EZ Bar Curls vs Hammer Curls (Which is Best For Strength?)


EZ Bar Curls vs Hammer Curl

As a strength and conditioning coach, I often receive questions about the differences between EZ Bar Curls and Hammer Curls and which exercise is more effective for building bicep strength and size.

Both exercises can be beneficial for improving muscle mass growth and overall function, but they differ in the equipment and angles used.

In this article, I will compare EZ Bar Curls and Hammer Curls, discussing the unique benefits of each exercise and providing tips on proper form and programming. By understanding the differences between these two exercises, you can figure out which one is best suited for your individual goals and needs.


EZ Bar Curls


Equipment Needed

  • EZ Curl Bar

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Stand tall*, back straight, head up, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold the EZ Curl Bar with both hands, palms up (supinated grip).
  • Start with the bar at arm’s length against the upper thighs.
  • Curl the bar up towards the shoulders until the forearms touch the biceps.
  • Keep upper elbows close to the side.
  • Lower the bar back to starting position using the same path.
  • Continue until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

*Instead of standing, using a Preacher Curl Rack is a very popular variation to use with an EZ Curl Bar. For more details, check out the variations listed below.

By far the most common mistake with any curl exercise, but perhaps even more so with EZ Bar Curls is swinging and rocking in an attempt to lift more weight. If you need to swing the bar, use momentum or generally contort your body to move the weight, it’s too heavy. Lower the weight and use proper form.

Don’t allow the wrists to bow back when holding and curling the bar. Keep the wrist neutral by keeping the forearms engaged. This will take pressure off the wrist that could otherwise lead to them being very uncomfortable on the wrists.

Don’t have an EZ Curl Bar? Here are 11 alternatives for EZ Bar Curls for growing your biceps.

Benefits

Some potential benefits of EZ Bar Curls include:

  1. Reduced strain on the wrists: The angled grip of the EZ bar allows for a more natural wrist position, which can make the exercise more comfortable to perform and reduce the risk of wrist strain or injury.
  2. Improved grip strength: The angled grip of the EZ bar can help to engage the muscles in the forearms, which can improve grip strength and overall hand function.
  3. Targeted muscle development: The angled grip of the EZ bar allows for a slightly different range of motion than a straight barbell, which can help to target the biceps muscles in a unique way and promote balanced muscle development.
  4. Increased strength and size: Like other bicep and forearm exercises, EZ bar curls can help to increase strength and size in the biceps and forearms, which can improve upper body strength and function.

Overall, EZ bar curls can be a valuable addition to any workout routine, and they offer a range of potential benefits for both beginners and experienced lifters.


Hammer Curls


Hammer Curls

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbells

Instructions

  • Start standing with feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand and stand tall with good posture.
  • Start with palms facing in toward the body.
  • Now, curl both dumbbells up to shoulder level by flexing the biceps. Palms should finish still facing one another. Do not rotate the palm up.
  • Squeeze the biceps at the top of the rep and then lower back down to the starting position.

Coaching Points

The biggest mistake I see with Hammer Curls is swinging the dumbbells at the bottom of the rep. Lower the weights down under control and do not swing them at the bottom.

The other mistake I see usually comes when an athlete is trying to use too much weight. Instead of keeping the elbow in place at their side, they allow the elbow to drift back behind the torso which turns the movement into more of a row than a curl.

Benefits

Some potential benefits of hammer curls include increased strength and size in the biceps and forearms, improved grip strength, and enhanced upper-body muscular balance and symmetry.

Hammer Curls is one of the best biceps exercises to really focus on the Brachioradialis (the forearm muscle that aids in flexing the elbow). It also works the Biceps Brachii and the Brachialis.

Additionally, hammer curls can help to prevent common issues such as elbow pain and wrist strain that can arise from performing traditional bicep curls with a supinated (underhand) grip.

EZ Bar Curls vs Hammer Curls: Which is Better?

Now, let’s take a side-by-side look at the two exercises to see if one is better than the other for some common lifting goals.

Better For Building Size and Strength: EZ Bar Curls

I give EZ Bar Curls the edge when it comes to developing strength and muscle mass… but it’s close.

Generally speaking, when comparing exercise variations using a bar and dumbbells, the bar version will allow the lifter to lift more weight. More weight leads to more strength and greater size gains.

However, using dumbbells allows both arms to work independently which will reduce any imbalances and/or compensations. And, specifically, when it comes to Hammer Curls, no other curl variation targets the Brachioradialis better than Hammer Curls.

Ideally, I would suggest using both variations within your training program because both exercises come with their share of benefits for building strength and size.

Better For Beginners: Toss Up

This one is pretty even. I believe both EZ Bar Curls and Hammer Curls are good beginner-friendly exercises. They’re both easy to learn and execute. Both also allow for a beginner to be able to start with a light weight and gradually increase in weight as strength increases.

My suggestion here would be to try both! Make sure to learn the proper form and then see which one you like better.

All lifters have their own personal preferences on which exercises they like better and we all differ at least a little bit. The best way to find out which is best for you is to give them a try yourself.

Final Thoughts

I’ve just spent the last section of this article comparing which is better – EZ Bar Curls or Hammer Curls. However, the truth is, there is no reason you shouldn’t have both exercises in your strength training program.

Both are excellent exercises for developing strong biceps and forearms. Incorporating both exercises into your training program can also add variety and keep your workouts from getting stale.

So, my suggestion would be instead of trying to decide between the two exercises, figure out how you can utilize both EZ Bar Curls and Hammer Curls in your training plan.

Enjoy this comparison? You might also like to check out how the two most popular bars for curls compare. Yes, I’m talking Barbell Curls vs EZ Bar Curls.

Share This

Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

Recent Posts