The preacher bicep curl is an excellent variation of the regular biceps curl.
Basically, it is an isolation bicep exercise that enables you to practice your lifting form with a relatively controlled movement supported by a preacher bench.
The preacher bench is designed to provide you with an arm pad where you can rest your armpits. This slanted surface will support your arms while you lift your preferred load. The load can either a barbell, dumbbells or an EZ bar.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an experienced bodybuilder or a novice lifter, the preacher bicep curl can help you build bigger biceps.
However, it should not replace the standard biceps curl, but rather work alongside it to provide variation to your curling routine, since they both hit the biceps differently.
Nonetheless, you should go lighter on the weights for the preacher bicep curl than you do for biceps curls.
It is essential to have slow, controlled movements throughout the exercise, because the bench forces you into an unstable position. Having an incorrect form means you’ll get little benefit from the exercise or risk injury.
HOW TO DO PREACHER BICEP CURL
Here’s a step-by-step procedure of how to do the exercise:
- Sit on the preacher bench and then adjust its height such that your armpits are just touching the top of the slanted section.
- Hold your weight (dumbbell, barbell, E-Z curl) with your palms facing up (underhand grip), your arms extended and with your upper arms and chest resting on the bench.
- Now exhale and use your biceps to curl the weight up, keeping your upper arms on the bench, until your biceps are fully contracted and the bar is at shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps and pause for a second at the top of the curl.
- Then inhale as you slowly lower the weight until your upper arms are fully extended once again and biceps fully stretched. Ensure you keep your feet planted on the ground, and your torso and shoulders stay still throughout the movement.
- Repeat for the recommended number of reps.
PREACHER BICEP CURL MUSCLES ENGAGED
The movement activates the biceps and triceps. Specifically, it isolates your arm muscles like the brachialis, which is one of your most important elbow flexor muscles, as well as the brachioradialis on your forearm.
PREACHER BICEP CURL BENEFITS
Since your arms are resting on the arm pad, they do not swing as much as with seated or standing bicep curls and you’re less likely to break form. Also, there is no momentum generated throughout the range of motion hence providing the best control for doing bicep curls. It keeps your arms in place and makes you really target your biceps. If you practice this exercise often, you will improve the form of regular curls enabling you to lift more weight.
Being an isolation exercise, it only targets your biceps and has no accessory muscles. Therefore, it is great exercise for strengthening your biceps even with lighter weights. It may be a bit tough at the start as compared to the regular standing curl, but it’s worth it.
NEGATIVE MOVEMENT FOCUS
One of the biggest benefits of the preacher bench curl is its ability to force you focus on the downward phase of the movement. As you go down with the weight, you can feel the tension in your bicep muscles. This negative movement enhances strength and muscle growth.
PREACHER BICEP CURL ALTERNATIVES
THUMBLESS OVERHAND PREACHER CURL
The thumbless overhand preacher curl not only builds handshake-dominating power, but also improves the strength of your forearms. The best weight to use here is an EZ-bar, though you can also use dumbbells or a barbell. Here, you will need to set up normally on the preacher bench, hold the bar in an overhand grip using just your fingers. Then curl it up to your shoulders until your forearms are vertical. Pause for a bit and squeeze the bar with your fingers before slowly lowering it.
The bicep curl is one of the easiest movements ever. You just need to put your arms to your side and the weight in your hands, then curl up, nice and controlled. It targets the same muscles as the preacher bicep curl. However, the standard bicep curl gives you more freedom of range of motion and movement.
ZOTTMAN PREACHER CURL
With the Zottman preacher curl, the rotating grip enables it to hit both your biceps and your forearms hard. The focus is more on the biceps, which are worked from different angles, but the forearms also get a handy strength boost. You will need to set up normally on the preacher bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders. Your palms should face away from you. Now slowly lower the weights until you fully extend your arms, then rotate your hands so your palms face towards you. Curl the dumbbells back up to your shoulders.
PREACHER BICEP CURL MISTAKES TO AVOID
NOT CONTRACTING THE BICEPS CORRECTLY
Usually, the movement is harder to do than the other bicep curls. At first, you may not be able to finish the desired number of reps with a full range of motion and this may be consequential in terms of strength and muscle gain.
Always use lower weights in the beginning and ensure your reps are controlled and in a full range of motion. Essentially, squeeze your biceps at the top of the motion if you want to gain biceps muscle mass and strength.
DOING HALF REPS FOR MORE TENSION
Stopping halfway to the curl, keeps tension in your biceps. However, do not make it a habit if your reason is because you can lift more in this way. If you stop halfway, you fail to stretch your arms which is important and thus slow gains.
SKIPPING BOTTOM STICKING POINT OF THE CURL
Do not skip the hardest part of the movement because you are stuck. The bottom position (sticking point) of a curl is actually quite difficult and you will find yourself unable to lift the weight. This is totally normal. In regular curls, you may cheat by using a little body momentum and moving your elbows behind the body but with the preacher bicep curl, you’ll be stuck. Don’t worry, continued practice of the latter will make it easier with time.
This isolation exercise will help you perfectly sculpt your guns. Maintaining proper form will ensure you safely and effectively perform the exercise. However, you may need to modify and alternate the movement in order to attain optimal results based on your individual needs.