The Ultimate Guide to Cross Body Hammer Curls for Bigger Arms

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Written By Kathy Brewer

I am a certified personal trainer, and I take pride in helping people achieve their fitness goals through strength training, cardio, and nutrition. 





Cross body hammer curls are a variation of the traditional hammer curl exercise. As it is a variation, it is done slightly differently. Instead of lifting the weight directly upwards, you will need to bring it across the body towards the opposite shoulder. This isolated movement can help to increase the activation of the brachialis muscle in your upper arm.

This exercise is adopted by those who are either bored of the hammer curl exercise and want to add some heat to your exercise routine. Our trainers have generally recommended performing 8-10 reps for a total of 3 sets for this exercise.

The movement of crossing the body engages the biceps and forearms in a unique way, making it a great exercise for building overall arm strength and size. Usually, this exercise is performed with dumbbells and standing straight.

If you want to make your biceps you need to go for the dumbbell curls and there are many options you can choose from. However, the cross-body hammer curl is the king for biceps growth.

It’s not over yet, I will tell you about the benefits, variations, how to perform it, muscles worked, etc. in this article. Keep scrolling!

Cross Body Hammer Curls: Muscles Worked

This variation of the dumbbell hammer curl targets the brachialis, biceps, and brachioradialis muscles. You should be aware that the brachialis muscle, which is located beneath the biceps and includes the brachioradialis muscle in the forearm, is the primary target of this exercise.

Benefits of Cross body hammer curls

By forcing the biceps and triceps apart, it can help develop bigger arms. It can also strengthen the mind-muscle link and enable heavier weight lifting than standard hammer curls.

It is actually a shoulder flexion exercise that can be utilized as a warm-up because it lowers the activity of your biceps muscles.

What are the Benefits of Doing Cross-Body Hammer Curls?

Let’s look at some of the benefits of Cross Body Hammer Curls –

  • They exercise the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles in addition to the biceps.
  • Compared to the traditional hammer curl, this exercise puts more of an emphasis on the biceps long head, which helps build biceps and forearm thickness.
  • Cross body hammer curls will help you effectively in building stronger forearms and biceps with increased wrist stability. This advantage of wrist stability will help you in reducing injuries that most people face.
  • With the benefit of wrist stability, cross body hammer curls can help increase bone density as well.
  • The increased muscle endurance because of this exercise can help sports players like baseball players, cricket players, etc.

How To Do The Cross Body Hammer Curl?

Most people make mistakes while performing any exercise which leads to severe injuries or a weirdly proportioned body. Here are the steps you can follow to perform the Cross body hammer curls:

Step 1: Straighten your arms downwards with palms facing in.

Step 2: Make sure to stand straight and engage your core; with a torso posture and just bend your knees slightly.

Step 3: Now, without twisting your arm, just curl the dumbbell upwards towards your opposite shoulder and touch the top of the dumbbell on the shoulder.

Step 4: As you touch the top of the dumbbell with the shoulder, hold it there for a second.

Step 5: Bring the dumbbell slowly along the same path as you exhale and do the same for the other arm.

Note – You need to repeat the same for a total of 8-10 reps and 3 sets.

Following these steps will help you in avoiding any sort of injuries and make you perform stable exercise overall.

You can also watch this detailed video of how to perform cross-body hammer curls.

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Common Cross Body Hammer Curls Mistakes:

Always remember, mistakes in exercises cause pain for your muscles in the future.

Mistakes while doing exercise - Cross body hammer curls

To perform the Cross body hammer curl in a proper way you need to avoid certain mistakes which I will mention below:

  • Avoid picking up weight that is not comfortable for you. Always start with a slow weight and just use your arms to lift the weight. Most people try to lift higher weight to boost their ego, but it is actually dangerous for your body.
  • Most people don’t exactly know how to do this movement perfectly. Imagine a carpenter hammering a nail into a piece of wood, this is the same way you need to curl the dumbbell towards the opposite shoulder. Your forearms should make a “cross-body” movement.
  • Don’t swing the dumbbells. Curl the dumbbells in a stable way as swinging movement may shift the tension on the anterior deltoids.
  • At the end of completing your reps you can add the hammer curls as well but avoid doing any other exercise that targets the biceps.
  • Your elbows should be in a stable position while you are doing the exercise, if they are flaring you won’t be able to workout your brachialis muscle.

Cross Body Hammer Curls Variations

Adding a few variations to the Cross body hammer curls will give your biceps more strength and growth. The Incline Hammer Curl, Dumbbell Curl, and Dumbbell Reverse Curl are a few versions of this exercise.

1. Incline Hammer Curl

The Incline Hammer Curl exercise is done while seated on an inclined bench placed anywhere on a floor. At the bottom of the exercise, the biceps muscles can be stretched more widely thanks to the slope posture, which can help you in muscle activation and growth.

Incline Hammer Curl - Cross Body Hammer Curls Variations

2. Dumbbell Curl

This workout is a traditional biceps curl performed with dumbbells. Throughout the movement, the grip is supinated (palms facing up), which draws particular attention to the biceps muscles.

3. Dumbbell Reverse Curl

Use an overhand (pronated) grip to hold the dumbbells while performing this variation. By increasing the strain on your forearm’s brachioradialis muscle in this grip position, you may strengthen your hold and stabilize your wrist as well.

Here is a video of different variations for Dumbbell Curls –



Are cross body hammer curls better than standard hammer curls?

Cross body hammer curls are unilateral exercises, you may concentrate on working one arm at a time, greatly increasing the growth of your biceps muscles. The main difference between the two exercises is that cross body hammer curls provide a little more force on the long head of the biceps than standard hammer curls do.

Do Cross body hammer curls make your arms bigger?

Yes, it’s a fact that Cross body hammer curls can make your arms bigger as it targets the biceps, brachialis and brachioradialis muscles. The muscle between your biceps and triceps needs to exert additional effort during this workout since it puts a little more strain on your forearms.

What is the difference between cross-body hammer curl and reverse curl?

Grip position is the only difference between Cross body hammer curl and reverse curl. Your palms should remain neutrally gripped and facing inwards towards your body the entire time you are performing the hammer curl. The palms face the floor when performing a reverse curl. This type of movement is referred to as a pronated grasp.

How many sets of Cross body hammer curls are good for arm growth?

It is consistently effective to increase arm growth with cross body hammer curls by performing three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps in the traditional bodybuilding manner. Forearms and biceps should have a great pump from this type of exercise.

What is the hardest type of curl?

The hardest exercise is the barbell curl since it puts the most stress on your wrist and elbow joints. The barbell bicep curl uses a smaller range of motion than its predecessors to work the arm and chest muscles. The hardest curl movements, however, should be performed with lower repetitions and heavier weights because these place a lot of strain on the biceps.

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Final Words

Dumbbell curls are considered kings for building biceps. There are many variations you can adopt but the Cross body hammer curls strengthen your forearms and build your biceps.

Note that your body position and the way you lift the weight are really important in this exercise. I have mentioned the proper way of performing this exercise above. Try not to use your back to lift the weight as it will create stiffness in your back.

This exercise is not only good for your biceps and forearms but such exercises improve your health and quality of life. So, just stay positive and focus on your exercise routine. Don’t overburden yourself, do every exercise with comfort. If you find any sort of issues in your workout routine, contact our trainers for better guidance.

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