How To Perform Dumbbell Preacher Curl Properly

The dumbbell preacher curl is an effective exercise that isolates and focuses on the arm flexors. It mainly targets the biceps and also involves the forearms.

It can be an important addition to your upper body or arms-focused workout to help build bigger arms and make your biceps pop.

The exercise only requires a dumbbell and a preacher bench machine for its execution. Ensure you master the perfect form to get the most out of this movement.

It is common for people to get lazy with the position specially when it comes to maintaining a constant tension throughout the movement.

If you feel uncomfortable when extending your arm fully, reverse the movement earlier to avoid that position.


Here is a step-by-step procedure for doing the exercise;

  • Set up the proper height of the preacher curl bench. Adjust it accordingly to fit your height. The seat should not be too high that you need to lean over the support pad or too low that you need to raise your shoulders.
  • Place your arm on the support pad such that your triceps are almost at the top edge and elbow almost in the middle of it.
  • Grip the dumbbell with an inward fist at shoulder width.
  • Extend your rested arm fully on the support pad. This is the starting position.
  • Now, in a nice and slow tempo, curl the dumbbell in towards your chin and upper chest in a single smooth arc. Hold it there for a second or two while you squeeze your bicep.
  • Then slowly uncurl by extending your arm back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for as much reps as desired then switch and do the same to your other bicep.

The most important part of this exercise is the positioning of your arm. Make sure you pay attention to the proper movement steps and body form during the workout.

Maintain constant tension through the movement. If you lose form, you will not get effective results.


The movement primarily works the biceps. The biceps consist of the long head and the short head. The long head makes up the outer head of the biceps and comprises the majority of the biceps peak.

The short head makes the inner biceps.

When performing the dumbbell preacher curl, usually your arm moves in front of your body. This causes the long head to slack making it the weaker biceps head during this movement.

On the other hand, the short head takes the majority of the load during the preacher curl. So even though both the biceps peak and the inner biceps are built, the exercise is best for building the latter.

Also, the secondary muscles engaged are the forearm flexors.


The exercise helps isolate your upper and lower arms and all the force strength movement focuses on the bicep muscles you want to build. Also, it enforces strict form making your biceps work harder.

Not only does it help you develop bigger and stronger arms, but also reduces the risks of injuries or soreness especially to your elbows.

Since it trains one arm at a time, it helps balance out any imbalances and prevents one side from overcompensating for the other.



In the incline dumbbell curl, your arms move behind your body and this stretches the long head of your biceps. Usually stretching a muscle before contracting it, makes it contract with more force thus taking on the majority of the load during the exercise. As the long head comprises majorly of the biceps peak, this movement best exercises the biceps peak.


The reverse preacher curl can be performed by holding an EZ Bar, barbell or dumbbells using outward palms.


For the standing preacher curl, you need to stand out with one foot forward the bench while you hold the weight using underhand grip. It is also suitable for back of incline bench.


The dumbbell hammer preacher curl needs you to hold the dumbbell in a neutral grip and then curl the weights up.


Close the space between your underarm area and the bench and make it tight. This will ensure you’re using consistent upper arm angle throughout the curl and that the upper arm mirrors the angle of the bench.

Do not raise your elbow off the preacher curl bench especially when you start trying to push more weight.

Ensure your upper arm is glued to the bench from the elbow through the armpit, and is maintained there.

If your elbow is rising off the bench, the focus is shifted from the curl on the biceps to your front deltoid which tries to drive the motion.

This takes the tension off your biceps and compromises your front shoulder as it can’t handle as much load as the biceps muscle.

Once your biceps get tired during the movement, do not rock backwards and sit lower in a bid to involve other body parts.

For example, you may be tempted to use the shoulder as a fulcrum to drive the weight up. Ensure you sit down low at the very beginning as you do the other setup points.

This will help engage your glutes, abs and hamstrings. By starting low and creating that engagement, not only are you making the exercise a full-body exercise but also, you can’t involve those muscles more as the set wears on since you’ve already involved them.

Do not rush the movement as it is not an explosive curl. It is a smooth, constant-tension motion. Ensure you feel the stretch at the bottom on each rep and linger there a bit.

Then using a patient and controlled contraction, instead of a hyper explosive one, work to feel your biceps drawing your forearm upwards.


The dumbbell preacher curl is a straight forward and, tried and tested method to gain some bicep muscles.

Also, the fact that it majorly targets the biceps muscles makes it convenient as a little effort can give you good results.