Crossbody Hammer Curls (Muscles Worked, Benefits & More)

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Picking the right exercises to target your biceps and forearms can be tough. You don’t want to spend too much time doing the same exercises over and over, but you also want to make sure you’re hitting those key muscles groups. Enter, crossbody hammer curls.

If you’re looking for a simple yet effective exercise that will hit both the long head of your biceps and your forearms – specifically the brachioradialis – then this is definitely for you.

Crossbody hammer curls offer an easy, safe way to get stronger in a short amount of time. In this article, we’ll cover what they are, which muscles they target, how to do them properly, their benefits, and more. So if you’re ready to take your strength training up a notch, keep reading!

What Are Crossbody Hammer Curls?

Have you ever tried adding crossbody hammer curls to your workout routine? In a nutshell, they’re a type of weightlifting exercise used to target specific muscle groups in the arms and shoulders. Specifically, they help work the long head of the biceps and the brachioradialis in your forearms.

Here’s what you need to do: Hold a single weight with both hands in a neutral position and your palms facing each other. Keeping your elbow close to your torso, curl the weight up towards the opposing shoulder without using momentum generated from your body.

It’s important not to swing the weight while you are performing this exercise as this can lead to injury.

Muscles Worked by Crossbody Hammer Curls

Crossbody hammer curls are effective at targeting three major muscle groups—the biceps, the brachialis, and the forearm. Compared to regular hammer curls, crossbody hammer curls specifically target the long head of the biceps for added definition and strength in your arms. The proper form for this exercise also emphasizes your brachioradialis in the forearm, allowing you to effectively work both muscle groups.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what muscles are engaged when you perform crossbody hammer curls:

  • Biceps: Located on the front of your upper arm, your biceps are responsible for flexing your arm at the elbow. Performing crossbody hammer curls targets both heads of your bicep—the short head and long head—for a more sculpted appearance and improved strength.
  • Brachialis: Located under your biceps, this muscle helps to flex your elbow joint. Crossbody hammer curls target this muscle group just like regular hammer curls do; however, they also work it more deeply and effectively due to their unique angle.
  • Forearms (Brachioradialis): Located on the outside of your forearms, this muscle group helps flexes the elbow joint and is responsible for turning your wrist over during certain motions. Cross body hammer curls place particular emphasis on this muscle group by requiring you to rotate your forearm outward as you bring up the weight and then again as you lower it down

Benefits of Crossbody Hammer Curls

Crossbody hammer curls are awesome exercise for strengthening your arms and shoulders, but did you know they also provide some secondary benefits? Yes, they do!

Increased Arm Strength

The most obvious benefit is increased strength in your arms and shoulders. Crossbody hammer curls target the biceps with an emphasis on the foreamrs, so your arms get a more intense workout than usual. As you increase the weight, you will notice your arm strength increasing—and that’s always a plus!

Improved Grip Strength

When you do crossbody hammer curls, you’re using a pronated grip (which means that your palms are facing down) during the entire curl. This strengthens the forearms and increases grip strength, which is particularly useful for sports like tennis and golf where a strong grip is important.

Increase in Biceps & Forearm Thickness

Another great benefit of crossbody hammer curls is an increase in bicep and forearm thickness. You’re concentrating on both of these muscle groups at once with this exercise, which means that they’ll both come out thicker after a few weeks of consistent training. You’ll start to see those muscles popping before you know it!

How to Perform Crossbody Hammer Curls

Crossbody hammer curls are a great exercise for targeting the long head of the biceps as well as the forearms, specifically the brachioradialis. To perform this exercise, simply stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a pair of dumbbells at either side. Then, curl each one up towards the opposite shoulder in an alternating fashion. The elbow should be hinged in a carpenter hammering motion throughout to ensure maximum effect. As you curl each weight up, pause for two seconds at peak contraction and then lower the weights back down slowly.

To maximize the benefits of this exercise, make sure your form is correct. Here are some quick tips to follow:

  1. Keep shoulders in line with your hips throughout
  2. Contract biceps muscles on each repetition
  3. Remain mindful of maintaining elbow placement in a carpenter hammering motion
  4. Exhale as you curl each weight up towards your shoulder
  5. Limit momentum and use control on both the concentric (raising) and eccentric (lowering) portions
  6. Move quickly between sets but ensure that rest periods between sets are adequate

Here’s a quick demonstration video:

Other Exercises to Target the Biceps and Forearms

Achieving well-developed and strong upper arms and forearms not only enhances your physical appearance but also improves your overall athletic performance. A balanced workout routine that targets both the biceps and forearms is essential for building functional strength and preventing muscle imbalances.

Here are five effective exercises that simultaneously engage the biceps and forearms, helping you achieve the upper body strength and aesthetics you desire. Incorporate these exercises into your training program to maximize your results and unlock your full potential.

  1. Hammer Curls: As mentioned earlier, hammer curls work the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles, promoting balanced development in the upper arm and forearm.
  2. Chin-ups: This bodyweight exercise primarily targets the biceps and also engages the forearm muscles. When performing chin-ups, use an underhand grip (palms facing you) to put more emphasis on the biceps.
  3. Reverse Curls: By using an overhand grip (palms facing down) on a barbell or dumbbells, reverse curls work the biceps and place greater emphasis on the brachioradialis and extensor muscles in the forearms.
  4. Zottman Curls: This unique dumbbell exercise combines elements of regular curls and reverse curls. Start by performing a standard dumbbell curl (palms facing up) and at the top of the movement, rotate your wrists so your palms face down, then lower the weights while maintaining this grip. This targets both the biceps and the forearm muscles.
  5. Seated Wrist Curls and Reverse Wrist Curls: These exercises specifically target the forearm muscles. While seated, hold a barbell or dumbbells with an underhand grip (for wrist curls) or an overhand grip (for reverse wrist curls) and rest your forearms on your thighs. Flex your wrists to lift the weights, focusing on using your forearm muscles throughout the movement. Though these exercises primarily target the forearms, the biceps are engaged for stabilization.

Here’s a quick video from John Meadows:

Common Mistakes to Avoid With Crossbody Hammer Curls

Once you have the form of the crossbody hammer curl down, there are a few mistakes you want to be sure you avoid for maximum bicep and forearm activation.

Not gripping the dumbbells in the middle of the handle

When doing the crossbody hammer curl, be sure to grip the dumbbells in their middle so that your arms stay close to your body. This will help you keep good form throughout the exercise and isolate your bicep and forearm muscles correctly.

Using momentum to lift the weight

It’s very easy to use your back muscles to assist with lifting the weight on crossbody hammer curls, but this can lead to an unsafe exercise. Make sure that every repetition is one of pure muscular strength and not just momentum or body English. It might mean using a lower weight than you’re used to!

Using too much weight

One of the most common mistakes made with crossbody hammer curls is grabbing too heavy of a pair of dumbbells. This can lead to poor form due to letting momentum do all—or most—of the work, instead of relying on your biceps and forearms. So stick with weights that allow you stay in proper position while still challenging yourself!

Crossbody Hammer Curls VS Hammer Curls: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between crossbody hammer curls and standard hammer curls, you’re probably not alone.

Crossbody hammer curls work the same muscles as standard hammer curls—particularly the long head of the biceps and the forearms (specifically the brachioradialis)—but they hit different muscles in different ways. While regular hammer curls hit the brachioradialis harder than cross body hammer curls, cross body hammer curls place more of a burden on the long head of the biceps.

This is because with a cross body curl, you bring your elbow across your body so that you are lifting against resistance from another angle. This increases both range of motion and tension, thus targeting different muscles and engaging them more intensely than with a regular hammer curl.

Crossbody hammer curls can be done with either dumbbells or an EZ bar – though an EZ bar may be more comfortable because it allows for better grip positioning. To do this exercise:

  1. Stand straight up with a dumbbell or an EZ bar in each hand
  2. Bend your elbows to lift the weight across your midsection while keeping your elbows close to your torso
  3. Slowly lower back down to starting position
  4. Repeat until failure


In conclusion, crossbody hammer curls are an excellent exercise for targeting the long head of the biceps and the forearms (specifically the brachioradialis). They are a powerful tool for strengthening and toning, and when performed correctly can provide all the benefits associated with building bigger, stronger arms.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, crossbody hammer curls are an effective and efficient exercise that can help you meet your fitness goals. Incorporate this exercise in to your routine and you’ll definitely see and feel the difference. Give it a try and reap the rewards for yourself!

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Hey, I'm Brian, the creator of I've been weightlifting / bodybuilding for 20 years and now I'm ready to share some knowledge. Check out my About Me page to hear my story.

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