The Preacher Curl Exercise

The Preacher Curl Exercise

One of the best mass building exercises for your biceps is the EZ bar preacher curl. When you pick up an EZ-curl bar, your biceps are isolated immediately. The preacher curl bench or pad/ attachment eliminates swinging or “cheating” (swinging your body to gain momentum to complete a rep.). This isolation of the muscle group coupled with the biomechanical geometry that a preacher curl bench forces your arm into, works your bicep hard for big results in both strength and mass. Many lifters use this exercise to build the peak of their biceps. Not to mention, it’s a great stretch at the bottom of the movement. 

The preacher curl exercise is really only for the upper arm. This isn’t a compound exercise that works other joints and muscle groups at once. Conventionally, this exercise was designed solely for the biceps although it also works your forearms and grip/ wrist strength. If you were to grab the bar with your palms facing down and curl it  (reverse curl) then it would put more stress on your forearms than the regular curl (palms facing up). 

There are several right ways to perform the preacher curl exercise. To do this exercise you can use a preacher curl bench, a preacher curl attachment for your exercise bench, a low pulley coupled with a preacher curl bench, a home gym, the back of an exercise bench, ect.

The first thing you need to do is grab the preacher curl bar on the inner bends. Your palms should be facing upward and your arms should be tilted inward because of the angle of the bar.

Fit Tip: It is recommended that you have a spotter hand you the bar to reduce risk of injury when picking up the bar and racking the bar. If you do not have a spotter, most preacher curl benches come with a front bar rest or spotter bars to put the weight down on when you are finished with the exercise.

With your triceps resting on the pad and your chest against the pad, hold the EZ curl bar at shoulder height. This will be your starting position. Next slowly lower the bar as you breathe in until your biceps are fully stretched.

On the upward motion of the exercise use your biceps to bring the weight back up to your starting position. Exhale your breath during this movement and make sure you squeeze your biceps at the peak of the exercise for the quickest results.

Fit Tip: Your arm should be straight or very close to it to completely stretch your bicep. If you don’t go all the way down, it will only grow he peak of your bicep instead of the whole thing. If you can not bring the bar up to the starting position from the bottom position, you need to lower the weight.

Repeat these movements for the recommended amount of repetitions.  

Unlike the straight curl bar, the EZ curl bar does not put unnecessary stress on your wrists. Instead it forces your writs into a more natural position. This means the stress is off of your wrists and directed towards your biceps so you can do more weight comfortably. When you couple an EZ curl bar with a preacher curl bench it forces correct form. Good form = growth. If you have pain in your wrists and forearms from using a straight bar to curl, the transition to an EZ curl bar can allow you to curl pain free.

A few things you would want to avoid go as following:

  • Don’t let your wrists bend during the exercise. Weather your wrists bend forward or backward, it will put unnecessary stress on them. You want to have a firm controlled grip at all times.
  • Don’t over extend your elbows at the bottom portion of the exercise. This puts your elbow in a vulnerable position for hyperextension injuries.
  • Lifting the bar quickly can also damage your elbows. You want to have slow controlled movements and a steady tempo throughout the exercise.
  • Don’t use an unmanageable weight. If you try to lift too heavy, this will hurt your form and put yourself at risk for injury.
  • Don’t arch your back during the preacher curl exercise. You want to keep your back as flat as possible for proper form.

The reps and sets you want to do depend on two things. The first is your goal and the second is your experience. If your goal is to gain muscle you want to do high weight and low reps; for example two to three sets of 6-8 reps. If your goal is to work your biceps and get lean without bulking up, you want to do more reps with less weight; one or two sets of 12-15 reps. If you’re just beginning you would want to start off with less weight and more reps to get your for correct before raising the weight. In between sets you should wait a minute and a half to two minutes for proper recovery. Don’t train your biceps more than twice a week for big results.

Fit tip: You don’t need a preacher curl bench and EZ-curl bar to do the preacher curl exercise. If you have an incline exercise bench and dumbbells you can use the top of the seat in the incline position as the preacher curl pad and work one arm at a time.