Hammer Curls are easily one of the best exercises for hammering (see what I did there) your biceps and I don’t think very many people would even argue that.
But, sometimes you might an alternative to Hammer Curls.
Maybe you don’t have the proper equipment or maybe you just want to switch up your workout. Whatever the reason, if you need a DB Hammer Curl alternative, you’re in the right place.
In this guide, I’m going to go over 10 Hammer Curl alternatives and hopefully at least one of them will work for your particular situation.
Table of Contents
Alternatives for Hammer Curls
All ten exercises listed here are broken up into four sections.
Don’t have dumbbells? These first four exercises may work as a good substitution if the reason you can’t do hammer curls is because of a lack of dumbbells.
The next three alternatives still use dumbbells but are different dumbbell curl variations. These can all work great if you’re getting bored with your current workout plan and looking to change things up.
Finally, the last three exercises are a bit out of the box, but they’ll all still completely smoke your biceps.
If you don’t have dumbbells, don’t worry, Barbell Curls are a perfect (some would even say better) alternative to their dumbbell cousin.
Stand tall, grip the bar shoulder-width apart, keep elbows tucked and curl the bar up to shoulder level. Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Band Curls not only work great if you don’t have dumbbells but also if Dumbbell Curls bother your wrist or elbow.
Stand on one end of a resistance band and grab the other end with both hands. With Band Curls, you can use more of a neutral grip by keeping your palms facing each other.
Sometimes this type of grip (also similar to the grip used in hammer curls) can be less stressful on the wrist and/or elbow.
Although it may seem odd that one would have access to a cable machine but not dumbbells, there is one situation in particular that I’ve been in this situation more than once – hotel gyms.
I’ve had multiple cases where the only form of resistance training in the hotel gym was some sort of universal cable machine. If this happens to be you right now, drop a cable attachment down to the bottom of the machine and start repping out Cable Curls.
EZ Bar Curls
I would imagine this is probably most lifter’s favorite bar to do curls with. Often times I would simply write ‘curls’ on athletes’ programs and it was always safe to assume that all 3 EZ Bars (also called cambered bars) would find their way off of their storage rack.
As for the movement itself, it is the same as a barbell curl – just with a slightly different grip angle.
Concentration Curls are a biceps curl Hall-of-Famer. They are probably one of the most well-known and beloved exercises, right next to Bench Press.
Done sitting on a bench with one arm at a time, set your feet wide and place your elbow on the inside of your thigh.
Curl the dumbbell toward the shoulder and really focus on squeezing the biceps at the top of the rep. Lower back down under control. Once all reps are complete on one arm, switch over to the other and repeat.
Seated Alternating DB Curls
Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls is a very close cousin to Dumbbell Hammer Curls. You know, the cousin that you see at every family get-together, not just every five years at a family reunion – that close.
You’re still sitting on a bench and you’re still curling with one arm at a time. The main difference is just the fact that you’re holding another dumbbell in the other hand and your posture is slightly different.
Having said all that, the exercises somehow feel completely different. If you really love Hammer Curls and you’re only looking for a slight tweak, this seated curl variation may be exactly what you’re looking for.
4 x 4s
This is probably the least well-known of all the exercises on the list. But, I can almost guarantee you that once you try 4 x 4s, they’ll immediately become one of your favorite biceps exercises.
Grab a dumbbell for each hand (can be done standing or seated). Curl one dumbbell up (palm facing up) so that your elbow is at a 90-degree angle and the forearm is parallel to the ground. Hold it there.
Now perform 4 dumbbell curls with the opposite arm. After the fourth rep, bring that arm up to 90 degrees and freeze it there. Then release the first arm and perform 4 curls with that arm.
Finally, perform 4 more curls with both arms at the same time. If you have the proper amount of weight, 4 x 4s will absolutely toast those biceps.
21s are generally done with a partner holding the hand around the bottom of the sternum to give the lifter a visual cue to touch the bar to, but they can still be done without a partner if necessary.
Perhaps best of all you can do 21s with any of the implements I’ve discussed so far – barbell, dumbbells, cable, etc.
Curl halfway up for seven reps. Curl the bar all the way to the top of the rep and then go halfway down for seven reps. Finally, do seven reps with full range of motion.
Partner Curls are one of my all-time favorites to quickly, and brutally, finish off the biceps at the end of a workout.
Grab a partner and a barbell. You won’t need very much weight at all. A 10-pound plate on each side is more than enough for most lifters.
Do one curl and hand the barbell over to your partner. They’ll do one curl and hand it back to you. Then you do two curls.
Continue handing the bar back and forth and increasing the reps each set by one. Once you both do a set of 8, start reducing the reps each set by one until you both finish with a set of one rep each.
The key to partner curls is not to sit the bar down the entire set.
My final alternative for Dumbbell Hammer Curls isn’t even a curl exercise at all. However, if the point of working out is to get strong and build mass then it would be a crime to not include Chin-ups.
This is because Chin-Ups are one of the best exercises for building strong (and big) biceps. This is because using an underhand, shoulder-width, grip for Pull-ups – which is what Chin-ups are – puts so much emphasis on the biceps that they have no choice but to grow.
Dumbbell Hammer Curls are one of the best biceps exercises that there is. However, there are situations where you either can’t do them or maybe just want to do something a little different.
Either way, hopefully, this list of Hammer Curl alternatives has given you at least one option that you can use to still get the biceps pump you’re looking for.