A Guide to Proper Form When Lifting Dumbbells

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First, let’s talk about why you need to learn proper technique and form even before you touch the dumbbells.

Most people think that no matter how you lift weights, nothing will go wrong and your body will accept the pressure while magically adjusting itself to your lifting style.

This kind of mentality can end up hurting you as lack of proper form can result in injuries like sprains, strains, and dislocation of joints.

Lifting is way more than just picking up a chunk of metal and one has to understand that our muscles stretch a certain way.

Our body has its own compass to calculate right angles and scales and if you start to load your body with exercises without proper form, your whole effort would go in vain.

This may also cause you mild to severe pain with no results to show of your bodybuilding regimen.

Weight Matters

Choosing the right weight should be your topmost priority. The general advice is to get yourself comfortable with light weights then work your way up.

However, light weight does not always mean that you should go too low – rather, it is more about your comfort. Which weight might suit you can be easily known by experimenting with different options.


Now that you have chosen the weight you are comfortable with, it’s time to correct your posture. The best tip here is to go through a little warm up routine.

This gets your blood flowing and makes it easier to move. The second tip is to stand straight before attempting to lift anything.

Although there are many types of dumbbell exercises, the general advice you find here will apply to every dumbbell exercise. For example, the bicep curl, which needs you to:

  • Stand straight
  • Pick up dumbbells
  • Keep them parallel to your side before bringing to the chest (which may result in your palm facing your chest)
  • Another thing you have to remember is to breathe out on your way up and breathe in on you way down. Keep in mind not to hold your breath because this may unnecessarily increase your blood pressure.

To get the most result out of lifting, make sure to lift slowly and steady because this puts maximum strain on your muscles. Keeping yourself hydrated is also a good practice.

Common Ground for All Dumbbell Exercises

As mentioned earlier, there are many exercises that you can do using dumbbells like dumbbell press, dumbbell rows, lateral raise, shoulder press, upright row, etc.

However, these exercises all require the same proper form for them to be carried out effectively.

These include: warming up a little, standing straight, lifting slowly and steadily, breathing out on your way up while breathing in on your way down, keeping yourself hydrated, repeating sets, and last but not least rest. Happy lifting!

What Are Hammer Curl Exercises?

Hammer curl exercises are free weight workouts that target specific muscles in the upper arms, particularly the brachioradialis, brachialis and biceps, which help to flex your elbow joint.

These workouts require the use of two dumbbells in order to execute them properly.

Sometimes people mistake hammer curls for bicep curls.

However, it is important not to confuse hammer curls with bicep curls because these two routines are not the same. In both of these free weight workouts, you will pick up one dumbbell in each hand and raise the weights by curling/bending your elbow towards the shoulder.

But unlike bicep curls where there is twisting of the wrist, only the forearm moves during hammer curl lifts.

As a result, your forearms will also get a good workout when performing this dumbbell routine.

Another difference between these free weight workouts is how the lifter grips the dumbbell. In a bicep curl, you hold the dumbbells at your sides such that both weight plates in front of you are facing left and right with palms facing forward.

When doing hammer curls on the other hand, the weights on both ends of the dumbbell will face in front and behind you, with palms facing your sides.

With this neutral grip, your forearm and dumbbell take on the shape of a hammer, hence this workout’s name.

The great thing about hammer curls is that you can perform them in a variety of ways. In the next section, you will learn how to do a hammer curl with proper form and some of the common variations of this free weight exercise.

How to Perform Hammer Curls

  1. To perform a regular standing hammer curl, grab a couple of dumbbell and stand upright with the weights held at arm’s length and feet spread about shoulder width apart. Your hands should remain stretched at your sides with elbows close to the torso and palms facing your thighs. For a good grip, allow the thumb to face forward on top of the dumbbell bar. This will be your starting position.
  2. Next, use one arm to throw/curl the weight forward towards your shoulder while keeping your upper arm stationary and breathing out on the way up. Make sure to fully contract your biceps by raising the dumbbell to shoulder level. In addition, maintain the neutral grip by moving the forearm only without twisting your wrist.
  3. After a brief pause, take a deep breath and slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Perform the same lift using your other arm. Repeat for your target number of repetitions for each arm.

Hammer Curl Variations

Keep in mind that the steps outlined above are for the standing hammer curl. Other variations of this dumbbell workout include:

Seated Hammer Curl

As the name implies, this version requires the lifter to remain seated. Seated hammer curls are a great way to stabilize the back and prevent you from rocking back and forth to gain momentum.

Preacher Hammer Curl

For this routine, you will place both arms on top of the preacher bench to execute a hammer curl. This is a great way to isolate the biceps, and the added support from the preacher bench allows you to curl heavier loads.

Cross Body Hammer Curl

This variation is very much similar to a standing hammer curl, only that you will be lifting the dumbbell towards the opposite shoulder across the torso.

Depending on the type of hammer curl routine you are performing, you can choose to lift one dumbbell at a time or both at once. When lifting both dumbbells simultaneously, this becomes a synchronized hammer curl. Lifting one dumbbell at a time is usually called an alternating hammer curl.

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