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How To Do Preacher Curls (5 Variations For Best Results)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 25, 2022

Although the preacher curl cannot replace a traditional bicep curl in routine workouts, it can undoubtedly reward you with bigger biceps.

But, it's quite a challenging exercise, and my clients always want to know the best techniques to enhance hypertrophy without straining their biceps.

After a month of researching and using this training, I've discovered tricks you can perform and mistakes that can prevent you from achieving the most benefits.

Let's talk about how to do a preacher curl properly.

Here's a Quick Summary of Our Key Findings:

  • The training works the brachialis, brachioradialis, and biceps brachii muscles.
  • You can use an EZ curl bar, a resistance band, or a barbell to exercise both your arms or use a dumbbell to target just one arm at a time.
  • It’s important to rest your armpits on the preacher bench and to incline your upper arms on the slanted surface.

How To Do The Preacher Curl

Man performing Preacher curl with EZ bar

There are five different types of equipment you can use for this workout, including:

  • EZ bar
  • Regular barbell
  • Dumbbells
  • Resistance bands
  • Kettlebells

Choose your sets and repetitions wisely based on your gym equipment and ability to maintain a perfect form. You can use an inclined bench if your gym does not have a standard preacher curl bench [1].

EZ Curl Bar or Barbell Preacher Curl

Front view doing preacher curl using EZ Curl Bar
  1. Place your upper arms on the pad with your armpit area and chest touching the preacher bench. It should mirror the angle of the preacher bench.  
  2. Grip a barbell or EZ bar with an underhand grip while seated or standing with your feet flat on the floor.
  3. If you're using a straight bar, keep your palms facing inwards by placing your thumbs out with other fingers.
  4. With your body leaned on the preacher bench, lift the EZ bar or barbell by bending your elbows until your wrists nearly touch your shoulders.
  5. Squeeze your biceps brachii as you finish the movement.
  6. Slowly straighten your arms and lower the barbell to the starting position.
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Kettlebell or Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Man doing one hand kettlebell preacher curl

Dumbbells allow you to perform the movement unilaterally, which can eliminate muscular imbalances.

  1. Place your arm on a preacher bench with your armpit area touching its edge.
  2. Grab a dumbbell with an underhand grip and lower your forearm on the inclined surface, so your upper arm mirrors its angle.
  3. Slowly lift the dumbbell towards your head while keeping your wrist, your elbow joint, and your shoulders in line with your head.
  4. Squeeze your bicep at the end of the motion.
  5. Slowly lower your dumbbell and straighten your forearm starting position.
  6. Repeat the above process.
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Resistance Band Preacher Curl

Doing resistance band preacher curl at home

A resistance band is an excellent alternative for people who want to work out at home.

  1. Fasten the resistance bands on door anchors, slip the anchors in place, and shut the door.
  2. Attach handles to both sides of the resistance bands, grab and stretch them while sitting on the floor.
  3. Sit on the floor with your feet flat and your knees up, then place your elbow joints on your kneecaps while your hands are fully extended.
  4. Slowly bring your forearms towards your head and squeeze your biceps at the end of motion.
  5. Bring your forearms to the starting position and lengthen the muscle.
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Pros
  • It completely isolates the lower biceps brachii, enhancing bicep muscle growth. [2]
  • It forces you into a negative movement, thus giving a unique stimulus for biceps hypertrophy.
  • Its posture deters cheating and promotes a full range of motion compared to the bicep curl.
Cons
  • Using excessive weights can cause stress on your ligaments.

Preacher Curl Variations

If you’re training in a gym that doesn’t have a preacher curl bench, you can try these great exercises that target the short head of your bicep:

  • Dumbbell concentration curls
  • Incline dumbbell curls
  • Prone incline curls
  • Single incline bench curls
  • Overhead double cable curls

Mistakes You Should Avoid

Don’t stop halfway while doing a barbell preacher curl. This can prevent you from stretching the bicep muscles fully and gaining the desired results.

In addition, use light weight to avoid forcing your body to recruit other muscles. [3]

“Done in the usual way, preacher curls produce flat-looking biceps instead of a nice full, round look. To work the outer head of the biceps, you should keep the elbows in and the hands out wide.” - Vince Gironda, the ‘Iron Guru’

Another common mistake is bending your wrists backward while lifting the dumbbell, which leads to a weaker curl since the wrist is a weak link.

FAQs

Are Preacher Curls Better Than Regular Bicep Curls?

A barbell preacher curl provides a better bicep stretch than a regular curl, giving you more bicep hypertrophy. However, don't stop exercising regular bicep curls, but integrate the preacher curl into your fitness program.

How Many Repetitions Should I Do for Preacher Curls?

We found that most people get positive results when doing five sets of 8-10 reps or three sets of 5-8 pause reps with 3-5 second pauses.

How Do You Preacher Curl at Home?

You can do the exercise at home using a straight bar with a lighter weight and an adjustable chair or bench covered by a wide cushion.

What Is a Preacher Curl Good For?

Essential benefits of the preacher curl exercise include enhancing your biceps growth and giving you fuller biceps.

Should You Try the Preacher Curl?

If you want bigger biceps, I highly recommend you add this workout to your fitness program.

You should also do warm-ups, take a good night’s rest, and consume a good diet to increase body strength.

Lastly, ensure your safety before starting this exercise program with adequate warm-up and proper form while performing the movement.


References:

  1. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19530481/incline-bench-preacher-curl/
  2. https://www.mdc.edu/northfitness/get-fit/arms/
  3. https://www.today.com/health/how-do-bicep-curl-right-way-t211479

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