Try the Cross Body Hammer Curl for Improved Arm Development

cross body hammer curl

The cross body hammer curl hits the biceps and forearms from a different angle. 

Powerful arms are not just about aesthetics; they enable lifting heavier weights, strengthen the grip, and minimize the risk of injuries. Research indicates arm training enhances muscle strength, boosts functional performance, and decreases fatigue (1). A great way to achieve this is arm curls, specifically the cross body hammer curl.

The cross body hammer curl stands out as an exceptional exercise for crafting strong, defined arms. This article delves deep into the cross body hammer curl, highlighting the targeted muscles and its unique benefits for arm development. It includes a detailed step-by-step guide on how to perform this exercise. It also suggests effective alternatives to incorporate into your arm training regimen, enriching your workout and maximizing results.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

The cross body hammer curl is an effective strength training exercise that builds the arms, particularly targeting the biceps, brachialis (elbow flexor), and forearms. The equipment used to perform this exercise is a dumbbell. However, you could mix it up by trying other free weights like kettlebells and resistance bands or using the cable machine. You also have the option to do this exercise standing or sitting.

It’s important to note that when performing this isolation exercise, you should squeeze and keep tension on your biceps throughout the movement. Also, don’t allow the free weight (dumbbell) to touch your body at any point. Below is a step-by-step guide on performing the cross body hammer curl standing with a dumbbell in the proper form.

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, stand up straight, and place the weights at your sides.
  2. Put your chest out, head facing straight, core braced, elbows slightly bent, shoulders pulled back, and relaxed. This is your starting position.
  3. Begin by curling your right arm slowly towards the top of your left shoulder as you exhale. Hold the contraction as you pause for about 2 to 3 seconds.
  4. Next, slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  5. Switch sides and repeat steps 1 to 4 with the left arm, making it one rep.
  6. Repeat this movement for as many reps as you desire.


The cross body hammer curl adopts an isolation movement for building and strengthening your arms. This makes it an effective arm-building exercise. Below is a list of benefits of doing the cross body hammer curl.

Builds Bigger Arms

Performing this exercise targets the biceps, forearms, and brachialis. The brachialis is often overlooked in arms development. This muscle is between the triceps and biceps; developing, it pushes the triceps further from the biceps, making massive and broader arms.

Better Mind-Muscle Connection

It’s an isolation exercise that primarily targets the arms. This creates an increased focus and a better mind-muscle connection, thus improving muscle hypertrophy in the targeted muscles (2).

Improves Strength for Other Exercises

Regularly performing this exercise develops and strengthens your arms and elbow flexors. This improves your pulling form when transitioning to other exercises like deadlifts, pullups, and rows, to name a few. You can also use this strength for training, such as CrossFit


Performing them increases muscle tension, which means a lower impact on the joints. As a result, they’re easier on the joints and strengthen them simultaneously.

Addresses Muscle Imbalances

The unilateral nature of this exercise allows you to concentrate on one side of the body at a time. If you feel muscle imbalances and one of your arms needs more attention than the other, this movement will allow you to show the less dominant side with more attention. 


The cross body hammer curl is an excellent exercise for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. However, experts advise mixing up other exercises to build similar muscles to avoid hitting a plateau (3). Below is a list of alternative exercises you can mix up to build massive and well-defined arms.

Dumbbell Drag Curl

The dumbbell drag curl is a biceps curl exercise that targets the biceps and elbow flexors. One advantage of this exercise is you can avoid cheating during exercising because the limited arm movement creates a good contraction in the biceps. This limits momentum, allowing you to focus correctly on your targeted muscles.


The chin-up is a bodyweight exercise that uses a supinated grip on a chin-up bar. It targets the back, posterior delts, biceps, and forearms. For more resistance, you can use weight plates, vests, or resistance bands to increase muscle gains.

Inverted Row

The inverted row is a bodyweight compound movement primarily targeting the back and the biceps as a secondary muscle group. During this routine, the body stabilizes the core muscles, including the abs and obliques. Inverted rows also help improve grip strength.


What does the cross body hammer curl work?

The cross body hammer curl is an isolation exercise for the arms. It mainly targets the biceps, brachialis (elbow flexor), and forearms.

How many sets of cross body hammer curls should you perform?

How many sets of the cross-body hammer curl you should perform depends on your goals and experience level. Do at least three sets of 8 to 15 reps for strength gains. This set range is also effective for muscle hypertrophy. 

What is the proper form for cross curls?

Whether standing or sitting, ensure you squeeze and keep tension on your biceps throughout the movement. Also, don’t allow the dumbbells to touch your body at any point. For more information on the proper form for cross curls, look at the comprehensive exercise in this article.

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  1. Calik-Kutukcu, E., Arikan, H., Saglam, M., Vardar-Yagli, N., Oksuz, C., Inal-Ince, D., Savci, S., Duger, T., & Coplu, L. (2017). Arm strength training improves activities of daily living and occupational performance in patients with COPD. The clinical respiratory journal, 11(6), 820–832.
  2. Calatayud, J., Vinstrup, J., Jakobsen, M. D., Sundstrup, E., Brandt, M., Jay, K., Colado, J. C., & Andersen, L. L. (2016). Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training. European journal of applied physiology, 116(3), 527–533.
  3. Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4897.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.