How To Do Barbell Preacher Curl Properly

The preacher curl is one of the most effective variations of the barbell bicep curl.

Much as there are many variations of the bicep curl, let us be in agreement that you don’t have to exhaust every variation of a given exercise for you to make it a full workout.

Instead, you can pick on a combination of variations that serves your muscles right.

If you don’t have the knowledge of what to do and how to do it, seek help from a professional or any other person who knows better.

For biceps workout, your combination should not miss the preacher curl because it leaves no muscle untouched. However, that doesn’t mean that you replace it with the other variations, no!

The preacher curl will hit the “high nots” of your muscles resulting to increased strength in your brachialis and brachioradialis.

But before we take a dive into the proper way of doing the barbell preacher curl, let us first understand why the barbell preacher curl is special.

In the standard biceps curl, your body creates a momentum when you swing the weight up and down whereas in the the barbell preacher curl, the momentum is almost impossible.

Here you must have a preacher curl bench which has a seat and a cascaded flat pad that slopes away from you.


Here is a guide on how you to do the barbell preacher curl properly.

  • Have your seat on the preacher curl bench and stretch your arms above the pad so that your elbows rest on the pad and armpits are sunken into the top of the pad. This is the starting position.
  • With your hands fully stretched down, reach for the bar and grab it with your palms facing up then slowly curl the load up until your forearms are vertically up.
  • At the top of the move hold on for about two seconds then slowly stretch back your hands to the starting position. And that is one rep.
  • Repeat the move for as many reps as you wish.


The curling motion involves three elbow flexors which are the bicep brachii, brachialis and the brachioradialis.

The main muscles worked in a preacher curl workout especially while holding the bar with an overhand grip is the bicep branchii, it is the largest and the main elbow flexor.

The brachialis and brachioradialis muscles will also grow because they add on to the curling motion. Brachialis increases the thickness of the arm while brachioradialis increases the size of the forearm.


Barbell preacher curl has a way of forcing you into negative movement. It is this negative movement that helps in building strength as well as muscle growth.

In the conventional barbell curl, your body creates momentum due to the swinging of the weight while in the barbell preacher curl, your elbows are supported so that no momentum is created while curling the load.

This ensures that you don’t cheat. You can think of it as a direct injection into your muscles.


Now that you have an understanding of the muscles worked by the barbell preacher curl, it becomes easy choose a combination of alternative exercises that will help you work the same muscles.

Here are some of the best alternative workouts that can be done in place of the barbell preacher curl.


This is a simple workout that only requires a dumbbell and your body. Take a seat on a bench or a chair then spread your feet wider than your shoulder-width.

With your chest popped out, reach for the dumbbell then press your elbow on the side of your thigh and lift the weight up to your chest and back.

Supporting your elbows reduces the momentum that might be created while swinging the load.


The prone inclined curl is also known as the spider curl. It requires that you lie on your stomach preferably on an inclined bench and let your hands hang freely on your sides.

Just as you curl the weight in a preacher bench, here you also curl the weight in the same manner.

The prone inclined curl isolates your biceps muscles and also minimizes body movements thereby increasing the effectiveness of the exercise.

You will need dumbbells because you will be curling your hands one after the other.


The inclined dumbbell curl is another alternative to the preacher curl except. However, you don’t require the preacher bench but an adjustable inclined bench.

Here you lean your back with the bench inclined say at 45 or 55 degrees then you curl the dumbbell one after the other.

The inclined position increases the range of motion at which you curl the dumbbell. Thus, it flexes your muscle fibers further compared to the normal curl where the range of motion is limited.

This increased range of motion translates to an increased negative rep change. This makes the inclined dumbbell curl just as effective as the barbell preacher curl.


By now if you are a notorious gym rat you must have known that making mistakes while performing a given workout may lead to some serious permanent injuries.

To avoid such uncalled for problems, here are some of the common mistakes you should avoid:

  • Curl the weight in a slow controlled motion, don’t be in a hurry.
  • Have your planted to the ground to make you more stable and balanced.
  • Keep your upper back straight instead of being hunched over supporting pad.
  • Work with a load that you can easily control.
  • Make sure that it is your biceps that does the heavy lifting and don’t seek support from any other muscle, not even from your feet.


The pad supports your elbows so that they don’t swing as you curl the weight up and down. The preacher curl bench helps to control your body movements thereby minimizing the momentum created by your elbows.

At this point your muscles are impacted directly with the load because the preacher puts you in a disposition at which your biceps muscles are singled out and worked on thoroughly.

Start with lighter weights then you will gradually load more as your form becomes better.

[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]