Hammer Curls: Enough for biceps?

Discussion in 'Basic Training Principles and Methods' started by jww13, Oct 21, 2004.

  1. jww13

    jww13 New Member

    Are hammer curls enough for biceps? I do 2 sets of them, and my biceps also get work from pulldowns and rows.

    So is that enough or do I need another bicep exercise? (since hammer curls work forearms)
  2. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    For me that would be enough and would be the one bicep exercise I would choose.
  3. jdreich

    jdreich New Member

    Hi There,

    Just to add my 2 cents: there was a LENGTHY discussion a long time ago, about the best bicep exercise, and the incline dumbell hammer curl won.

    I remember Blade and Kate helped there. From that post on, I use that as my only isolation bicep exercise.

  4. Thangorodrim

    Thangorodrim New Member

    Personally, hammers are one of my favorite exercises.

    I use the variant where you rotate from semi-supinated to just a hair past fully supinated at the top. This method keeps the biceps tightly contracted throughout the range of motion and avoids the slackening at the top you get with a regular curl.

    They are downright viscious done on a preacher bench.
  5. MrNasty

    MrNasty New Member

    I do two back exercises along with 2 bicep iso exercises - those being seated incline curls and seated incline hammer curls - during ever workout.
  6. Flexipecs

    Flexipecs New Member

    Here is what Mel Siff wrote on the subject (which is very interesting reading!):

    "Is There A Biceps Curl?

    The apparently simple biceps curl, although one of the trademarks of bodybuilding, remains poorly understood by gymnasium users and scientists alike. Even EMG (electromyographic) studies have proved notoriously contradictory during attempts to ascertain exactly which arm muscles are involved at a specific instant during elbow flexion.

    Elbow flexion is produced by the cooperative action of the biceps brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis. Of these, the biceps cross the shoulder and the elbow joints, whereas the other two flexors act strictly on the elbow.
    Thus, if strict arm flexion is to take place, there must be no movement about the shoulder joint. This fact is well known to bodybuilders who execute the curl with elbows dug into the sides of the trunk or with the back leaning firmly against a wall.

    Several basic factors profoundly effect which elbow flexors become involved in any type of forearm curl:

    - orientation of hand (pronated, supinated or neutral)
    - the intensity of resistance to movement
    - speed of movement
    - degree of shoulder extension/flexion
    - degree of shoulder abduction.

    A detailed EMG study of elbow flexion performed with variations of these factors was carried out by Basmajian (Muscles Alive, 1978). His time analysis of activity revealed that there is a completely random sequence of appearance and disappearance of activity in the different elbow flexors of his subjects. In any sample of subjects, there appears to be no predictable pattern among the muscles for activating, sustaining and terminating flexion.

    Moreover, muscles which display the greatest activity in individual subjects only begin the movement first and end it last. He concluded that there is a fine interplay between the biceps, brachialis and brachioradialis throughout elbow flexion, so that it is inappropriate to identify a specific muscle as playing a specific role at any given instant. Most remarkable was the wide variation in the response produced by a given muscle. Although a general trend may be described, the same type or sequence of activity rarely occurs in different subjects.

    The long head of the biceps (whose tendon passes through the shoulder joint capsule) shows more activity than the short head in most subjects during slow elbow flexion, during supination of the hand against resistance, and during shoulder flexion. There is little difference in electrical activity between the two heads of the biceps during isometric contraction or during eccentric elbow extension. These observations are directly relevant to the bodybuilder who wishes to exercise a specific head of the biceps more strongly.

    Miwa and Matoba (quoted by Basmajian) found that, during slow elbow flexion, biceps brachii is much more active electrically at certain angles of flexion.
    Unlike the variation of isometric force with angle, the EMG reveals peak activity at 160 degrees, almost nil at 90 degrees (surprisingly, where isometric force is near a maximum), and strong activity at full flexion (where isometric force is relatively low). Clearly, much still has to be learned about the interaction between the nervous and muscular systems.

    Biceps brachii is usually active during flexion of the supinated forearm for all intensities of loading and during flexion of the semi-prone forearm against resistance (as with 'hammer curls'). However, if the forearm is prone (as with reverse grip curls), the biceps play a minimal role during concentric and eccentric elbow flexion. This finding directly contradicts the traditional belief among bodybuilders that the biceps continue to play a major role during all forms of elbow flexion. It is brachialis which displays this prominence, since it is active during fast and slow elbow flexion with forearm prone, semi-prone or supinated at all intensities of loading. It appears that brachialis contributes to all variations of elbow flexion, since its line of pull does not change with pronation or supination.
    This fact reveals that the term 'biceps curl' should be eliminated from the exercise manuals and be replaced by the more accurate term 'arm curls' or 'elbow flexions'.

    Brachioradialis does not play any significant role during any form of elbow flexion without a weight, although it becomes much more strongly involved during rapid flexion and extension with the forearm in all three positions of rotation. This muscle, therefore, is seen to act as assistant mover when rapid or strongly resisted flexion occurs.

    All three elbow flexors contract strongly when a resistance is overcome during flexion of the semi-prone forearm. Basmajian describes the semi-prone orientation of the forearm as the natural position, the position of rest and the position of greatest mechanical advantage for most functions of the upper limb. In other words, the hammer curl, with palms facing the sides of the body, rather than the supinated (palms up) curl, should be regarded as the fundamental type of arm curl.

    Another interesting finding is that the triceps - traditionally regarded as only an extensor of the elbow - is strongly active during pulling movements(such as seated rowing) with the elbow flexed. The biceps are powerfully involved while the elbow is close to full extension, but the triceps contribute as the angle of flexion increases, undoubtedly since the shoulder is extended backwards, thereby making use of the long head of the triceps as a shoulder extensor.

    The apparently simple act of elbow flexion, often regarded as synonymous with the so-called biceps curl, displays subtle nuances of functional anatomy which have eluded much of the fitness community for many years. A greater appreciation of the richness of all variations of elbow flexion would contribute significantly to the implementation of more effective normal and rehabilitative training."
  7. jeffw

    jeffw New Member

    Was it this thread? If it is, just thought I'd toss it in, in case someone wanted to take a look at it.

    Thanks for mentioning it, jdreich—it was "before my time," so I wouldn't have known about it.
  8. Chupacabra

    Chupacabra New Member

    leave it to Mel Siff to make reading about a bicep curl more boring than actually doing one.

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