As a starting point, manipulating the position of your elbow and/or wrist, you can preferentially recruit different muscles in your upper arm. The Preacher Curl works the muscles of your front upper arm, the biceps. The word biceps refers to two intersecting muscle heads: the short head and the long head.
The Preacher Curl, as any other exercise where the elbow is in front of the midline of your body, puts greater emphasis on the short head of the biceps.
"When done properly, the Preacher Curl is a great arm building exercise"
- Lean over the bench and grab the bar with both hands. Your palms should be facing upwards and tilted so that the pinkies are a little lower than the thumbs.
- The starting point should be with your elbows bent and the weight resting above your arms.
- Slowly lower the weight until your elbows are extended and arms are straight. Breathe in during this part of the motion.
- Bring the weights back up to the starting point by contracting the biceps. Breathe out during this part of the motion. Contract the biceps for a moment at the top of the lift. Repeat for as many repetitions as desired.
- Adjust the seat on the preacher bench so that your upper arms sit comfortably on the padding when seated. If you have the seat to high you will lean into your preacher curls and this is stealing the work away from your bicep muscles.
- Make sure your armpits rest comfortably atop the bench and your triceps are flush against the pad. Try to arrange yourself so that your armpits are snug against the pad.
- Keep the shoulder joint fixed in place as well. The only joints that should be moving are both elbows.
- Keep the motion slow and controlled throughout the set.
- Don't "rest" at the top of the movement.
- Squeeze the biceps as hard as possible as your get the weight to the top.
- At the top of the movement don’t come up so high that your elbows rise off the bench, but keep your forearms short of perpendicular to the floor in the top position. Likewise, keep a slight bend at the bottom of the rep to ensure constant tension.
- Try to keep your wrists fixed in place when doing preacher curls. You do not want to see motion in the wrist joint when doing this exercise.
- Use a wide grip to work the inner biceps and a close grip to work the outer biceps
- The EZ-bar, as many of you will attest, is slightly easier on the wrists than the straight bar counterpart.
- If you find on bicep is weaker than the other, use the preacher curl with dumbbells to equal out your bicep muscle strength. Do alternate preacher curls, and always do the same number of reps for each arm - even if it's too easy for one arm.
Close Grip Preacher Curl: This is the default grip for the EZ bar preacher curl. A close grip works the outer head of the biceps more.
Straight Barbell Preacher Curl: This uses the same technique as the regular preacher curl except it replaces the EZ curl bar with a straight barbell. Some people claim the straight barbell is better for developing a peak. The difference between the two exercises isn't massive, but it’s always good to mix things up.
Dumbbell Preacher Curl: The dumbbell preacher curl works each arm individually. The motion is the same as with regular preacher curls except it is done with one hand at a time using dumbbells.
Hammer Dumbbell Preacher Curl: Same as above except the wrist is rotated so that the knuckles face outwards and the pinky is the closest finger to the floor.