What are bicep rope curls? (A guide to hammer curls)

What are bicep rope curls

What are bicep rope curls?

The rope hammer curl is a resistance exercise performed on a cable pulley machine. It is great for building the biceps without putting too much strain on the elbows or shoulders. This bicep isolation exercise is popular among bodybuilders seeking bigger bicep peaks.

The great thing about the bicep rope hammer curl is that you can maintain tension on the muscle throughout the entire movement. You can also target different heads of the bicep by curling with a close grip with a heavy weight or, using a lighter weight and pulling the ends of the rope on either side of your head. 

How do I perform a rope hammer curl?

Set the cable pin at a low level and attach the rope. Make sure that the rope is set low enough that your arms fully extend on the downward movement without the weight hitting the bottom. Stand with your feet at shoulder width and knees slightly bent to give you a strong, steady stance. 

Grab the rope at each end, aiming to leave a gap of around an inch between the top of the ropes and your grip. Using grip strength instead of letting the rope heads rest on your hands can save a lot of pain under heavy weight. 

Raise the rope, keeping your upper arms stationary,  so that your biceps are fully contracted. Squeeze the bicep for a few seconds and then slowly lower the weight. Once your arms are fully extended, repeat the exercise and curl the rope heads up again. It is important to use a weight that allows full control when performing this exercise. 

Using a heavier weight will lead to bad form with the upper back and shoulders taking most of the strain. 

If you are aiming for hypertrophy, aim for 4-5 sets of 15 reps. The rope hammer curl is a great exercise to superset with wide grip curls or reverse grip curls

Variations to the Rope Hammer Curl

There are a couple of different ways to perform a rope hammer curl depending on the bicep heads that you want to target. If you want to target the inner, short head of the bicep, curl the rope up in an inward movement as you would in a hammer curl. 

Bring the rope heads together and raise until the biceps are fully contracted. Hold this position for a few seconds and squeeze the bicep before slowly lowering. 

You can go slightly heavier on this than standard rope curls, but make sure you have full control of the movement and muscle connection.

It is possible to bring in the longer, outer head of the bicep, but curling the rope up and opening it a the top of the movement bringing the rope ends to either side of your head. 

This must be done with a lighter weight as you are twisting your upper arm at the top of the movement. Using a heavy weight in an uncontrolled movement could damage your rotator cuff. 

Hammer Curls vs Regular Curls

When it comes to curls, there are two main types: hammer curls and regular curls. Both can give you the desired look, but there are some key differences between the two.

Hammer curls are a great exercise for working the biceps. This is because they allow for a greater range of motion, which targets the muscles more effectively. They also put less strain on the elbow joint, making them ideal for those who have any sort of elbow pain.

Regular curls, on the other hand, are better for overall forearm and upper arm development. This is because they work both the biceps and triceps, giving you a well-rounded look. They can also be performed with heavier weights, so if you're looking to add some size, regular curls are the way to go.

So, which type of curl is right for you? If you're looking to really focus on building up your biceps, then rope hammer curls are a great choice. However, if you want to work on overall arm strength and toning, then regular curls are probably a better option.

Which is the best hypertrophy movement for the bicep?

There is a lot of debate out there about the best exercises for building upper arm muscle. Some say that hammer curls are the way to go, while others swear by regular curls. So, what's the verdict?

Well, the truth is that both exercises can be effective for building upper arm muscle. However, hammer curls may have a slight edge over regular curls.

The reason why hammer curls may be slightly more effective is because they allow you to use a greater range of motion. This means that you can work your muscles a bit harder and stimulate more growth.

Another reason why hammer curls are a better choice is that they're more functional. That means that they better prepare you for everyday activities that require forearm strength, such as opening a jar or turning a doorknob.

Rope hammer curls are generally performed with a lighter weight than a barbell or dumbbell curl meaning that you can really focus on squeezing the muscle and connecting with the bicep. Go for a slow, controlled movement with a very slow negative motion to really break down the muscle fibres and force hypertrophy. 

Combine this slow, controlled hammer curl with regular heavy curls and you wil see very quick results. 

Do hammer curls work the forearm?

Hammer curls are a great exercise for forearm strength because they target all of the major muscles in your forearm. This includes the brachioradialis, extensor carpi radialis, and pronator teres. These are the muscles that are responsible for moving your hand and fingers.

Regular curls only target the biceps brachii, which is one of the smaller muscles in your forearm. While this muscle is important, it's not as important as the other muscles that hammer curls target.

If you want to get the most out of your forearm strengthening efforts, make sure to include hammer curls in your workout routine.

Hammer Curl Pros and Cons

There are a few key differences between hammer curls and regular curls that you should be aware of before deciding which exercise is right for you. Here are some pros and cons of each:

Hammer Curls:


  1. Hammer curls better isolate the biceps muscles, making them more effective for building bicep size and strength.
  2. Because they better isolate the biceps, they also help to reduce the risk of injury to the elbow joint.
  3. Hammer curls promote forearm development in addition to bicep hypertrophy.


  1. Hammer curls can be harder to perform with proper form than regular curls, so there is a greater risk of injury if they are not done correctly.
  2. They can also put more strain on the shoulder joints than regular curls.

Regular Curls:


  1. Regular curls are easier to perform than hammer curls and thus have a lower risk of injury.
  2. They work both the biceps and triceps muscles, making them ideal for overall arm development.
  3. They can help improve your grip strength.


  1. Because they work both the biceps and triceps, regular curls may not be as effective as hammer curls for isolating and developing the biceps specifically.
  2. Can be easy to cheat by swinging the weights.
  3. They may put a strain on your wrists.


There you have it — a complete guide to rope hammer curls along with a comparison of hammer curls vs regular curls. We hope that we have answered the original question, what are bicep rope curls?

Both exercises are great for building strength in your arms, but they target different muscles. If you want to focus on your biceps, then regular curls are the way to go. 

However, if you want to work your entire arm, then rope hammer curls are the better option. 

Whichever exercise you choose, make sure to mix things up and keep your routine interesting so that you can continue seeing results.

We hope that we have answered the original question, what are bicep rope curls?

We also hope that you have found this article helpful. If you are new to bodybuilding, take a look at our free beginner program by clicking this link

Other Bicep Exercises

Barbell Curl

Dumbell Curl

Dumbell Hammer Curl

Preacher Curl

Machine Preacher Curl

Spider Curl

Reverse Grip EZ Bar curl

Drag Curl

Incline Dumbell Curls


Do I need to use a twin rope?

You can use a single rope to perform bicep rope curls and work one arm at a time. One advantage of doing this is that your weaker side does not get assisted by the stronger side. Using a single rope also allows you to place all concentration and effort into a smaller target area.

Should I train heavy with rope curls?

If you are seeking hypertrophy, opt for a relatively easy weight that you can perform 15-20 reps with. Biceps respond well to high intensity, slow negative movement and a squeeze on contraction. This is hard to accomplish these with a heavy weight.

When should I perform bicep rope curls?

Your biceps should ideally be trained on a dedicated arm day or a pull day. If you really want to develop your upper arms, dedicate at least one session a week to them with tricep exercise supersets. If you do not have the time for this, you can add your bicep training on to the end of a pull session as a finisher. 

What if I do not have a cable machine for bicep rope curls?

You can work around this with some rope and a barbell disc. Simply thread a short rope through the bar hole and grab the ends. If you decide to go doown this road, you will need to perform the curl with your legs spread apart in order to avoid bruising your shins with the weight. 


Gymenix offers a selection of free training programs to suit all abilities and goals. Click on the links below for FREE access. 


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