Preacher Curls: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Cathe Friedrich doing dumbbell preacher curls

Are you tired of doing the same old bicep exercises repeatedly? Do you want to switch things up and add some variation to your workout routine? Look no further than preacher curls! Bicep exercises are a crucial part of upper body strength training, but performing the same exercises over and over can lead to a plateau that stalls your progress. If you’re looking for a way to spice up your bicep workout routine and break out of your exercise rut, then preacher curls could be your answer.

Preacher curls are a classic bicep exercise that involves curling a weight with your arms while resting them on a preacher bench. What benefits do they offer?  Well, for one, they isolate the biceps, allowing for targeted and focused strength and development.  Since your elbows and shoulders are in a fixed position, your biceps do all the work. Talk about hitting a single muscle group hard! Plus, preacher curls also help improve control and form, ensuring you’re getting the most out of your bicep workout.

Let’s delve more deeply into the good, the bad, and the ugly of preacher curls along with common mistakes to avoid, and how to perform preacher curls correctly.

The Pros of Preacher Curls

As mentioned, a major advantage of preacher curls is they isolate the biceps, meaning you can focus on developing these muscles without allowing other muscles to do part of the work. This is useful if you’re looking to build bigger, stronger biceps. By repeatedly curling the weight in a controlled manner, you force your biceps to work harder, which over time can lead to increased strength and size. And because preacher curls require a lot of control and concentration, they can improve your form and technique when performing other curls.

One of the most unique aspects of preacher curls is their focus on the negative or eccentric movement. This is the phase where the muscle lengthens, as opposed to contracting, and it’s crucial for building strength and power in the biceps. During the eccentric phase, energy is stored within connective tissue. This stored energy is then transferred into concentric or lifting power, allowing you to generate more force and ultimately lift heavier weights. This is called the stretch-shortening cycle.

The preacher bench is key for executing a slow and controlled eccentric phase, as it provides the stability and support you need to maintain constant tension throughout the movement. By maximizing this stored energy transfer, preacher curls help you achieve impressive gains in both muscle size and strength in your biceps.

So, if you’re looking to take your bicep training to the next level, don’t underestimate the power of preacher curls and the importance of the eccentric phase. With proper form and technique, this exercise can help you unlock new levels of growth and strength in your biceps. So, if you’re looking to take your bicep gains to the next level, consider adding preacher curls to your workout regimen.

The Cons of Preacher Curls

As with any exercise, preacher curls also have drawbacks. One potential downside of this exercise is the limited range of motion the exercise offers. Because your arms rest on the preacher’s bench, you’re unable to fully extend your arms at the bottom of the curl, which means you’re not engaging your biceps as much as you could be.

Another issue with preacher curls is the limited muscle activation they provide. While they are effective for targeting the biceps, they don’t engage other muscle groups to the same extent as other bicep exercises, such as chin-ups or hammer curls. This means you’re only working a single muscle group.

Finally, there’s also a risk of injury with preacher curls. If you’re not using proper form, you could put unnecessary strain on your elbows, wrists, or other parts of your body. So, start with a weight that you can handle and gradually increase as you build strength and confidence.

While there are some drawbacks to preacher curls, they can still be an effective part of a balanced bicep workout routine. Just be sure to use proper form, start with a weight you can handle, and consider adding other bicep exercises to your routine for a more well-rounded workout.

The Ugly Aspects of Preacher Curls

Now, let’s talk about the “ugly” side of preacher curls – common mistakes that can lead to ineffective workouts or even injury. One of the most common mistakes is using too much weight. It’s tempting to try to lift as much weight as possible, but using weights that are too heavy can lead to improper form, which can put you at risk for injury. Instead, start with a lower weight and focus on using proper form and technique before gradually increasing the weight.

Another common mistake is using incorrect form. This can include arching your back, swinging your arms, or using your shoulders to lift the weight instead of your biceps. To avoid this, focus on keeping your back straight, your elbows close to your body, and using a controlled motion to lift and lower the weight.

Finally, remember that preacher curls are not the only bicep exercise out there. Neglecting other muscle groups can lead to imbalances and can even hinder your progress. Be sure to incorporate other bicep exercises, as well as exercises for your triceps, shoulders, and back, to ensure a well-rounded workout routine.

By avoiding these common mistakes and incorporating preacher curls into a balanced workout routine, you can reap the benefits of this classic exercise without the risk of injury or ineffective workouts.


To sum up, preacher curls are a classic exercise that offer several benefits if you’re looking to develop stronger, more defined biceps. This curl variation isolates the biceps, improves strength and development, and can help with control and form. But also consider the drawbacks, such as limited range of motion, limited muscle activation, and the risk of injury.

Despite these potential drawbacks, preacher curls can be an effective part of a balanced workout routine. It’s important to use proper form and technique, avoid common mistakes such as using too much weight or neglecting other muscle groups, and consider incorporating other bicep exercises to achieve a well-rounded workout. With proper form and technique, you can maximize the benefits of this classic exercise and achieve your fitness goals with confidence.


  • “A study of biceps brachii muscle: Anatomical considerations and ….” 01 Jan. 2015, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277940311_A_study_of_biceps_brachii_muscle_Anatomical_considerations_and_clinical_implications.
  • Oliveira LF, Matta TT, Alves DS, Garcia MA, Vieira TM. Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii emg in different dumbbell curls. J Sports Sci Med. 2009 Mar 1;8(1):24-9. PMID: 24150552; PMCID: PMC3737788.

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Related Cathe Friedrich Workout DVDs:

STS 2.0 Muscle & Recovery
STS Strength 90 Day Workout Program
All of Cathe’s Strength & Toning Workout DVDs
Total Body Workouts
Upper Body Workouts

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