How To Do Preacher Curls | Proper Form, Benefits, And Variations

girl doing preacher curl at gym

Why isn’t there any difference in the size of your biceps, even though you’re doing all those bicep curls? Why is it that, despite how hard you work out and how many bicep curls you do, your arms never seem to get much bigger? If you haven’t tried preacher curls yet, you should consider incorporating them into your next arm workout session. Whether you’re a seasoned body builder or a newbie lifter, preacher curls may be used to develop bigger biceps.

Yes, the promise of preacher curls is bigger biceps. The preacher curl is one of the most effective biceps exercises because it’s nearly impossible to botch the form.

You’re kept in place by a preacher curl bench, which prevents you from swinging your upper body or arms back and forth like many people do while performing the dumbbell biceps curl.

However, as we all know that God is in the details, so even a “fool-proof” exercise like the preacher curl may be made less effective if you fudge the fundamentals.

In this post, you’ll discover everything there is to know about the preacher curl, including what it is, the advantages of doing a preacher curl, how to properly perform preacher curl, and also the five best alternatives to preacher curls.

What is a preacher curl?

Preacher curl also known as the “EZ-bar preacher curl” or “bicep preacher curl” is not a lot different from normal bicep curl, except that it focuses on a specific style of curls. Preacher curl can be done on both free weight rack and the weight stack.

Traditionally, the preacher curl is performed using two pieces of equipment:

  • An EZ bar (sometimes known as a “preacher curl bar”) is a kind of barbell with a slanted grip that’s meant to relieve some stress off your wrists during biceps and triceps exercises.
  • The preacher curl bench, which is a type of seated bench with a large pad that supports your upper arms and maintains them in the correct posture.

How to do a preacher curl

Girl doing preacher curl at gym with ez bar
Credit: bodybuilding.com
  1. To do this exercise, you’ll need a preacher bench and an E-Z bar. Grasp the inner handle of the E-Z curl bar with your palms facing forward. Due to the bar’s form, your palms should be tilted inwards somewhat and your hands should be positioned so that they face forward.
  2. With the upper arms placed against the preacher bench pad and the chest pressed into it, grasp the E-Z Curl Bar at shoulder length. This will be your starting point.
  3. As you inhale, lower the bar slowly (under control) until your upper arm is fully extended and your biceps are completely stretched.
  4. Raise the weight up by curling your biceps while exhaling, bringing the bar to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps as hard as you can and hold this position for a second.
  5. Repeat the motion for required number of reps

Preacher Curl Benefits

Helps You Build Bigger Arms

If you want to develop your arms, everyone should be performing this version of the curl. That’s because it focuses on the biceps brachii — the two-headed muscle that people think of as the “biceps” — as well as the nearby brachialis and brachioradialis.  These three muscles assist in bending and unbending your elbow, as well as rotate your forearm. The main muscle worked in preacher curl is the biceps brachii.

Doesn’t Let You Cheat

This biceps exercise is ideal for people who usually “cheat” during curls. The preacher bench’s immobilization of the rest of the body prevents you from swinging your body or using your back to assist curl the weight.

Strengthens Your Forearms

Do preacher curls work your forearms? Yes. The brachioradialis, one of the forearm muscles, gets a good workout with this exercise.

While the preacher curl doesn’t require your forearms to work as much as some other lifts, you may enhance how hard your forearms have to work by attempting to crush the weights in your hands during each rep.

Emphasizes The Eccentric Portion Of The Exercise.

With the preacher curl, you must restrain the eccentric (lowering) portion of each rep more than with other types of biceps curls, which not only makes the exercise safer but also improves its efficacy.

The ability of preacher curl to push you into negative movement is one of the most significant advantages. Strength and muscle growth are both improved by negative movement.

Differences Between Preacher Curls And Barbell Curls

The preacher curl and barbell curl are two variations of a standard dumbbell biceps curl, but they differ in certain ways.

  1. Equipment: The barbell curl is a standing exercise that only requires one piece of equipment, a barbell, whereas the preacher curl is a sitting exercise that requires a preacher bench. Preacher curls with an EZ bar, a specialized barbell intended to minimize arm joint damage, are a good alternative when possible.
  2. Range of motion: The preacher curl posture gives you more range of motion than the barbell curl, and it stretches the long head of the biceps brachii.
  3. Muscles worked: The biceps and triceps are two of the most active muscles during both curl styles. Despite this, the barbell curl is a full-body workout that activates your core and glutes as stabilizers. In contrast, preacher curls target your arm muscles, such as the brachialis, in particular (one of your most important elbow flexor muscles as well as the brachioradialis in your forearm)
  4. Weight: The barbell curl’s stance and shorter range of motion make it easier to lift heavier weights. When executing the controlled movement of a preacher curl, use a lighter weight.

Is the Preacher Curl as Effective as Other Biceps Curl Variations?​

In a 2014 study published by the American Council on Exercise, researchers discovered that preacher curls generated less overall biceps brachii activation when measured using an electromyography machine, or EMG, than other curl variants.

This is most likely due to the position of the upper arm: instead of being perpendicular to the floor, it is at a 45-degree angle with the torso. This makes preacher curl harder at first but easier near the top of the move.

Even if it had fewer overall activation, the preacher curl isn’t worthless, and it isn’t “worse” than other choices that scored highly in activation. The variation in these activations was only a few percentage points overall. If you enjoy the preacher curl, it will still work your biceps while doing an activity that you like.

It’s also worth noting that the participants in the study performed all of their curls with good form. So, if you’re swinging on your biceps curls, as many lifters do, you may not be getting as much biceps activation as you would on a preacher bench.

The preacher can offer a strong training stimulus for lifters who frequently cheat.

Preacher Curl Variations

Thumbless overhand preacher curl

In a world where you can’t use your thumbs for your curls, the king of the curl is the man with the most powerful grip. The thumbless version of the traditional preacher curl not only increases your handshake power but also improves your forearms’ strength. It’s best to use an EZ-bar for this exercise, but you can also do it with dumbbells or a barbell, and naturally make sure you’re good at the basic preacher curl before removing a finger from the equation.

Set up as usual on the preacher bench, with your fingers wrapped around the bar and your palms facing forward. Bring it to your shoulders until your forearms are vertical. Pause here and squeeze the bar with your fingers, then lower it gently.

Zottman preacher curl

The basic Zottman curl targets both your biceps and forearms with its rotating grip. When you do a Zottman curl on a preacher bench, the emphasis shifts to your biceps, which are worked from various angles but you still get decent forearm work done too.

On the preacher bench, hold a dumbbell each in both hands by your shoulders with palms facing away from you. Lower the weights gradually until your arms are entirely extended, then twist your hands so your palms face towards you and curl the dumbbells back up to your shoulders.

Takeaway

Preacher curls are a fantastic exercise for keeping your form consistent and it builds the biceps brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis in your upper arm and forearms, but they are limited by the equipment needed to do them. Bicep curls can be done just as effectively, however it is critical to maintain good posture and not cheat while doing so.

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