How To Do The Cable Preacher Curl Properly

If you are a dedicated gym-goer, chances are you’ve come across someone doing the cable preacher curl at least once.

This popular strength-training exercise operates by putting constant tension in your arms to isolate and strengthen your biceps.

Required equipment: Preacher bench, cable pulley machine, straight bar attachment

Instructions:

  • Place a preacher bench in front a cable column.
  • Attach a straight bar attachment to a low pulley on the machine then set weight you’d like to use.
  • Sit on the preacher bench and rest your upper arms on the pads.
  • From where you are seated, grasp the attachment with an underhand grip at shoulder width.
  • Bend your arms slightly to put tension in your biceps. This is the starting position.
  • Squeeze your biceps to curl the bar and bring it toward your shoulders.
  • Keep curling the bar until the undersides of your upper arms touch your biceps.
  • Hold this position for a second as you contract the biceps before lowering the weight slowly until your elbows are almost completely locked out.
  • Repeat for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps each.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE CABLE PREACHER CURL WORK?

The cable preacher curl mainly works the biceps brachii, a two-headed muscle located at the front of your arm that merges near your elbow.

It also recruits the brachialis (beneath the biceps), deltoids and forearms. Your core also gets a bit of the action since you might need to tighten it for extra stability.

CABLE PREACHER CURL BENEFITS

INCREASES MUSCLE MASS

Doing a cable preacher curl puts your biceps under constant resistance from the moment you lift the weight from the stack to the time you lower it and lock out your elbows.

The constant resistance allows your bicep muscles to increase in mass as it activates your muscles fibers continuously throughout the exercise.

STRONGER MUSCLES

Cable weight stacks increase progressively in manageable increments compared to other weights such as dumbbells.

By using the cable machine to do preacher curls, you will be gradually increasing your muscle strength with every weight increment.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE CABLE PREACHER CURL

STANDING BARBELL CURL

The standing barbell curl uses a barbell to overload both biceps and recruits your torso to isolate the arm muscles.

Steps:

  • Stand upright with your feet at hip-width apart.
  • Hold on to a barbell with both hands at about shoulder-width apart.
  • Press your elbows against your torso, ensuring they stay fixed onto it.
  • Take a deep breath and tighten your core.
  • Curl the barbell, making sure to go as high as you can without taking the elbows off your torso, and exhale.
  • Inhale and lower the barbell down.
  • Repeat the steps as many times as you desire.

To avoid swinging/using momentum, you can lean on something solid like a wall as you perform this exercise.

You might find the standing barbell curl a bit more challenging than the cable preacher curl since it challenges your overall body balance and your ability to keep your elbows still as you curl.

SEATED INCLINE BICEP CURL

This movement is an advanced bicep curl that stretches your arms through a lot of resistance to lengthen your biceps.

It is normally performed using dumbbells but you can use a cable machine to make it more challenging and get the most out of it.

How to do it:

  • Set up an incline bench press to 45-60 degrees off the ground.
  • Lie on the bench, with your head on the backrest and your arms vertical.
  • Grab a pair of dumbbells.
  • Keep your upper arms still and make your palms face forward or away from the rest of your body.
  • Maintaining a vertical forearm, curl the dumbbells until you get to the point where your elbows are almost getting off the torso.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering the dumbbells.
  • Repeat the above steps for the desired number of reps.

SPIDER CURL

The spider curl is a less advanced and less challenging variation of the bicep curl that can be performed with dumbbells, cable machine, resistance band or barbell.

Needless to say, it is quite a versatile alternative to the cable preacher curl.

Steps:

  • Set up a bench to about 45 degrees off the ground.
  • Lie on the bench, face down.
  • Hold on to a barbell or a pair of dumbbells with your arms vertical and your palms facing away from your body.
  • Keeping your forearms vertical, curl the weight(s) up and then stop before you raise the elbows.
  • Lower the weight(s) slowly and with control until your arms are fully extended to the bottom.
  • Repeat the steps above for the desired number of reps.

To help isolate your biceps as much as possible, press your arms against the bench to keep your upper arms and shoulders stationary.

You may also want to keep your head slightly lifted off the bench so that your chest is flat on the bench pad.

CABLE PREACHER CURL MISTAKES TO AVOID

LEANING BACK

Do not lean back while curling your arms to lift the weight up.

Leaning back will release the tension from your biceps which ultimately reduces the effectiveness of this exercise.

ENGAGING THE DELTOIDS

Try digging your elbows into the preacher pad so that you don’t engage your deltoids as this will shift the focus from your biceps to your shoulders.

USING PARTIAL RANGE OF MOTION

To get the most out of this movement, you should try to curl the weight up to your shoulders and not lower.

You should also extend your elbows fully at the bottom.

If you find it hard to achieve a full range of motion, you might want to use a lighter weight that will allow you to focus fully on the form.

FINAL WORD

There are so many exercises you can use to train your biceps, but the cable preacher curl still remains undefeated.

This isolation movement not only puts constant tension in your arms to activate your biceps as much as possible, but it also lets you focus only on the biceps as every other part of the body remains still.

What’s more, the movement pattern is pretty simple and it will not take you long to master completely.