Are Preacher Curls Effective? The Benefits and Drawbacks You Need to Know

Are preacher curls effective? That’s a question I hear all the time from beginners and experienced gym-goers alike. Preacher curls are a popular bicep exercise among bodybuilders that fitness enthusiasts tend to turn to if they want to focus on their biceps’ overall growth. However, some might argue that the exercise doesn’t have much use beyond aesthetic purposes. So, is this true? In this article, we’ll explore the answer to this question and delve deep into the mechanics of preacher curls.

Let’s start by defining what the preacher curl is. In simple terms, a preacher curl is an isolation exercise performed on a special bench designed for this movement. The aim is to target the biceps muscles by using the bench’s sloping surface to stabilize the triceps and minimizing their contribution to the exercise. The preacher curl is a well-known movement among fitness enthusiasts, but are they really worth your time? Today, we’ll explore the science behind preacher curls to decide if it’s a worthy addition to your workout.

Preacher curls are often praised for their ability to target the biceps more intensely than other exercises. Since the triceps are prevented from working as much, the biceps are left to take on the brunt of the workload, making this a great exercise for building bigger arms. Still, some people might argue that preacher curls aren’t as effective as compound movements like pull-ups. But is it true that preacher curls aren’t worth your time? In this article, we’ll discuss whether preacher curls are a vital part of your lifting routine or if you’re better off doing other exercises to achieve your fitness goals.

Anatomy of the Biceps

The biceps brachii, commonly referred to as biceps, is a two-headed muscle located in the front of the upper arm. It is responsible for elbow flexion, forearm supination, and shoulder flexion. The two heads of the biceps are the long head and the short head.

  • The long head originates from the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapula and runs down the arm to insert at the radial tuberosity of the radius.
  • The short head originates from the coracoid process of the scapula and joins the long head at the middle of the arm, before inserting at the radial tuberosity.
  • The biceps brachii works with the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles to flex the elbow joint.

Types of Arm Exercises

Working on your arms is a popular goal for many gym-goers looking to increase their strength and aesthetic appeal. There are a variety of exercises that target the arms, from bicep curls to tricep extensions. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective arm exercises out there.

Bicep Exercises

  • Bicep curls: the classic exercise for targeting the biceps, done by using dumbbells or a barbell to curl the weight towards your chest.
  • Chin-ups: while not a direct bicep exercise, chin-ups engage the biceps as a secondary muscle group and can be a great way to build strength in the arms.
  • Hammer curls: similar to bicep curls, but with your palms facing each other instead of up towards your chest, hammer curls target both the biceps and forearms.

Tricep Exercises

The triceps make up the majority of the arm and are responsible for extending the arm at the elbow. Here are some of the most effective tricep exercises:

  • Tricep pushdowns: done using a cable machine, tricep pushdowns involve pushing the cable down towards your thighs with your elbows tucked by your sides.
  • Close-grip bench press: similar to a traditional bench press, but with a narrower grip that targets the triceps rather than the chest.
  • Dips: performed on parallel bars, dips target the triceps and chest and can be done with varying levels of difficulty depending on your strength.

Preacher Curls

Preacher curls are a bicep exercise that specifically targets the long head of the bicep. They are performed using a preacher bench, which has a cushioned surface for you to rest your arms on while you grip a barbell or dumbbells. By isolating the biceps in this way, preacher curls can be great for building strength and size. However, it’s worth noting that they shouldn’t be the only arm exercise you do, as they don’t target the other parts of the arm, such as the forearms and triceps.

Pros Cons
Effective for targeting the long head of the bicep Doesn’t target other parts of the arm
Can increase strength and size in the biceps Requires a preacher bench or other equipment

Overall, preacher curls can be a valuable addition to your arm workout routine, but it’s important to include other exercises that target the full range of muscles in the arms.

Benefits of Preacher Curls

The Top 3 Benefits of Preacher Curls

Preacher curls are one of the most popular exercises performed by bodybuilders, powerlifters, and fitness enthusiasts. There are numerous benefits associated with performing preacher curls, but three stand out above the rest:

  • Targeted bicep development: Preacher curls are an excellent isolation exercise that specifically target the biceps. This makes them an ideal exercise for those who want to emphasize bicep development or are trying to bring up a lagging body part.
  • Injury prevention: One of the biggest benefits of preacher curls is their ability to prevent injuries by strengthening the elbow joint and surrounding muscles. This is particularly important for athletes who engage in activities that put stress on the elbow joint, such as throwing or punching.
  • Improved grip strength: Preacher curls also help to improve grip strength, as the exercise requires a strong grip on the bar to maintain proper form. This benefit extends beyond the gym, as improved grip strength can help with everyday tasks and activities.

How to Perform Preacher Curls

To perform preacher curls, you’ll need a preacher curl bench and an EZ bar or dumbbells. Follow these steps to perform the exercise:

  1. Adjust the preacher curl bench so that the pads are at the same height as your armpits and your arms can be fully extended.
  2. Grab the EZ bar or dumbbells with an underhand grip and place your arms on the preacher bench, allowing your elbows to hang just off the edge of the pad.
  3. Curl the weight up towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows stationary and your wrists straight.
  4. Lower the weight down with control, making sure to fully extend your arms at the bottom of the movement.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.


If you’re looking to improve your bicep development, prevent injuries, or improve your grip strength, preacher curls are an excellent exercise to add to your workout routine. Remember to focus on maintaining proper form and gradually increase the weight as your strength improves.

By incorporating preacher curls into your exercise routine, you can achieve a variety of benefits that will help you improve your overall fitness and reach your goals.

Correct Form for Preacher Curls

Preacher curls are a popular exercise to build biceps, and they’re a favorite among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike. However, executing preacher curls properly is crucial to avoid injuries, maximize muscle growth, and reap the benefits of this exercise. In this article, we’re specifically going to discuss the correct form for preacher curls.

  • Positioning: Adjust the seat of the preacher bench according to your height. Your armpits should be snugly placed at the top of the pad, and your chest should be pressed against it. Adjust the height of the bar to be level with your chest.
  • Grip: The grip can vary depending on your preference. Generally, a narrow underhand grip is used to target the biceps. Place your hands on the bar with your palms facing up. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, or slightly closer, to emphasize the inner biceps.
  • Execution: Start with your arms fully extended, holding the barbell. Inhale, squeeze your biceps, and curl the weight towards your shoulders. Keep your upper arms fixed on the pad, and avoid swinging your body. Exhale at the top position, pause for a second, and slowly lower the weight to the starting position.
  • Range of Motion: To prevent stress on your elbows and shoulders, avoid lowering the weight too far down and hyperextending the elbow joint. Keep the movement slow and controlled, and aim for a full range of motion, from the bottom to the top position.

Additionally, when performing preacher curls, it’s essential to warm up properly, choose an appropriate weight, and avoid compensating with other muscles. Incorporating preacher curls into your workout routine can help you build stronger, thicker, and more defined biceps while minimizing the risk of injury.

Overall, preacher curls are an effective exercise for building biceps, but proper form and technique are crucial for seeing results and preventing injury. By mastering the correct form for preacher curls and incorporating them into your workout routine, you can take your biceps training to the next level.

Benefits of Correct Preacher Curl Form Risks of Incorrect Preacher Curl Form
– Increased bicep activation
– Proper muscle isolation
– Reduced chance of injury
– Better muscle growth
– Strained elbows or wrists
– Incomplete range of motion
– Unstable positioning
– Compensating with other muscles

By following the correct form for preacher curls, you’ll be able to maximize your bicep gains and avoid injury. Remember to focus on positioning, grip, execution, and range of motion, and always warm up properly and use an appropriate weight.

Preacher Curls vs. Other Arm Exercises

When it comes to building impressive arm muscles, preacher curls are often a go-to exercise for many gym-goers. However, how do they stack up against other arm exercises? Let’s take a closer look.

  • Bicep Curls: Preacher curls are a type of bicep curl, meaning they target the bicep muscles specifically. However, regular bicep curls can also be effective in building bicep size and strength. The difference lies in the range of motion and the angle of resistance. With preacher curls, the angle of resistance is fixed, providing maximum isolation and tension on the bicep muscle.
  • Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups: Chin-ups and pull-ups are compound exercises that primarily target the back muscles but also engage the biceps as secondary muscles. While they may not be as effective as preacher curls for targeting the biceps specifically, they can still aid in building bicep strength and size.
  • Hammer Curls: Hammer curls involve holding the dumbbells with a neutral grip, meaning the palms are facing each other. This exercise targets both the bicep and forearm muscles. While preacher curls may be more effective in isolating the bicep, hammer curls provide a more functional movement pattern and can help improve grip strength.
  • Tricep Exercises: While preacher curls primarily target the biceps, it’s important to balance your arm training with tricep exercises as well. Strong tricep muscles can help improve overall arm strength and size. Tricep exercises like tricep dips, overhead tricep extensions, and skull crushers can be effective in building tricep muscle.
  • Isolation Machines: Similar to preacher curls, there are also other isolation machines that target the biceps specifically, such as the bicep curl machine or cable curls. While these machines can be effective, they may not provide the same level of tension as preacher curls due to the fixed angle of resistance.


Preacher curls may be one of the most effective exercises for targeting the biceps specifically, but other arm exercises can also aid in building overall arm strength and size. It’s important to combine different types of arm exercises to ensure a well-rounded arm workout and to prevent muscle imbalances. Experiment with different exercises and find what works best for you.

Exercise Primary Muscles Worked
Preacher Curls Biceps
Bicep Curls Biceps
Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups Back (primary), Biceps (secondary)
Hammer Curls Biceps, Forearms
Tricep Exercises Triceps

Remember, the key to building impressive arm muscles is consistency and proper form. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with heavier weights and push your limits, but always prioritize proper form to prevent injury and maximize results.

Common Mistakes with Preacher Curls

Preacher curls are one of the popular exercises that gym-goers include in their workouts to strengthen their biceps. However, many may not be performing this exercise correctly, leading to less effective results. Here are some common mistakes that people make when doing preacher curls:

  • Using Momentum: Many people tend to swing their arms while doing preacher curls, using momentum to lift the weight instead of their biceps. This takes away the resistance that the biceps should be working against and reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Incorrect Arm Placement: The preacher bench has an angled pad that supports the upper arms and allows the biceps to be isolated while curling. However, if the arms are not placed correctly on the pad, there will be unnecessary strain on the shoulders and elbows, leading to a risk of injury.
  • Not Using Full Range of Motion: Another mistake is not using the full range of motion during the exercise. This means not extending your arms fully during the downward movement or not curling the weight all the way up towards your chest. Doing only partial reps reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.

To prevent making these mistakes, make sure to use controlled movements while keeping your arms stationary on the pad during preacher curls. It’s also crucial to use only the weight that you can manage without compromising proper form. Finally, ensure that you conduct the exercise through a full range of motion to promote muscle growth and workout efficiency.


Preacher curls are an excellent exercise to strengthen your biceps, but only if done correctly. Avoiding common mistakes, such as using momentum, incorrect arm placement, and not using full range of motion, will help you make the most out of this exercise. Remember to prioritize proper form over the amount of weight lifted and to consult a fitness expert if you’re not sure about the right posture and technique.

Adding Variations to Preacher Curls

If you’ve been doing preacher curls for some time, you may have hit a plateau in your progress. Adding variations to your preacher curls can help you break through that plateau, challenge your muscles in new ways, and achieve better results. Here are some effective variations you can try:

  • Reverse Preacher Curls: Instead of curling the weight towards your body, curl it away from your body. This variation targets your brachioradialis and forearm muscles.
  • Single-arm Preacher Curls: As the name suggests, you perform this exercise with one arm at a time. This variation helps you isolate each arm and correct any imbalances between them.
  • Zottman Preacher Curls: This variation involves curling the weight with a supinated grip (palms facing up) and lowering it with a pronated grip (palms facing down). This targets both your biceps and forearms.

Integrating these variations into your preacher curl routine will help you achieve maximum results. However, it is important to note that form is crucial when performing these exercises. Make sure you use proper technique to avoid injury and maximize your gains.

If you’re unsure about how to perform these variations, consult a personal trainer or fitness expert for guidance.

Benefits of Adding Variations

Adding variations to your preacher curls can bring numerous benefits to your strength and overall body composition. These benefits include:

  • Better muscle activation in different areas of your biceps and forearms.
  • Increased resistance against muscle adaptation, allowing for continued gains.
  • Enhanced muscle coordination and mind-muscle connection.

By adding variations to your preacher curls, you will not only get better results but also prevent boredom in your workouts.

Safety Tips

It’s important to follow safety tips when performing preacher curls, especially when adding variations to your routine. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Use proper form and technique to avoid injury.
  • Start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the load as you progress.
  • Avoid jerky movements and excessive swinging of the weight.
Variation Muscles Targeted
Reverse Preacher Curls Brachioradialis, forearm muscles
Single-arm Preacher Curls Biceps, Brachialis
Zottman Preacher Curls Biceps, Forearms

Remember to listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort. With these safety tips and new variations, you’ll soon be on your way to breaking through your plateau and achieving your fitness goals!

Are preacher curls effective? FAQs

1. What muscles do preacher curls target?

Preacher curls mainly target the biceps muscles, particularly the long head of the biceps.

2. Can preacher curls help build bigger arms?

Yes, preacher curls can definitely help build bigger arms. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a well-rounded workout program and proper nutrition are also key factors in gaining muscle mass.

3. How do I perform preacher curls correctly?

To perform preacher curls, sit at a preacher bench and place your upper arms on the pad, with your elbows fully extended. Grasp a dumbbell or barbell with an underhand grip and curl it up towards your shoulders, focusing on contracting your biceps. Lower the weight back down slowly and repeat for desired reps.

4. Are preacher curls good for beginners?

Preacher curls can be a good exercise for beginners who are looking to strengthen their biceps, as it helps to isolate the muscles and allows for proper form and control.

5. How many sets and reps should I do for preacher curls?

The number of sets and reps for preacher curls can vary depending on your fitness goals, but a common recommendation is 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

6. Can I do preacher curls at home?

Yes, you can do preacher curls at home if you have access to a preacher bench or a chair and a dumbbell. However, it’s important to use proper form and start with a lighter weight before increasing the resistance.

7. Do preacher curls work for all fitness levels?

Preacher curls can be effective for all fitness levels, but it’s important to adjust the weight and reps accordingly to your individual fitness level and goals.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for taking the time to read about preacher curls! Remember, while they can be an effective exercise for building biceps, it’s important to incorporate a variety of exercises and a well-rounded workout program to see optimal results. Don’t forget to check back for more fitness tips and information. Happy lifting!