Barbell Preacher Curl
- Lean over a preacher bench with your upper arms angled down the surface of the bench. The upper edge of the preacher bench should be positioned under your axilla (armpit).
- Adjust the height of the seat accordingly so your axilla is located just above the upper edge of the pad.
- Extend your elbows (keeping a slight bend in elbows) and grasp the bar with a closed, supinated grip (the back of your palms facing you).
- Place your hands on the bar approximately shoulder width.
Upward movement/concentric phase:
- Flex the elbows, lifting the barbell until the bar reaches a point just beneath your chin.
Downward movement/eccentric phase:
- In a slow and controlled fashion, allow the elbows to extend back to the starting position.
FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Barbell Preacher Curl
What Is A Biceps Barbell Preacher Curl?
A preacher curl is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary elbow flexors, the brachialis and biceps brachii. It is a variation of the biceps curl in which the upper arms are rested on a bench, preventing the movement of the shoulders while isolating the biceps. This exercise can be performed with an Olympic bar or other barbell alternative while seated on a preacher curl bench. The concentric portion of the lift is elbow flexion, which involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is elbow extension, which involves the descent of the weight.
The purpose of the preacher curl is to strengthen the biceps while promoting hypertrophy (increases in size) of the biceps. Compared to other biceps curl exercises that activate the biceps throughout the whole range of motion (e.g. standing biceps curl), the preacher curl entails high muscle activation throughout a shorter range of elbow flexion. The shoulders are in a flexed position as arms are rested on the surface angle of the bench. The activation of the biceps brachii long head is maximal when the elbow joint is near full extension (i.e. the beginning of the lift and the end of the descent), activating the short head of the biceps and brachialis for the majority of elbow flexion in this position.
Why Do A Biceps Barbell Preacher Curl
Preacher curls strengthen and increase the size of the biceps brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis. It is a seated variation of the biceps curl that works through a shorter range of motion. Nonetheless, it targets the biceps from a different angle as the shoulder is in a flexed position. The beginning portion of the concentric contraction can elicit significant activation of the biceps compared to mid- and full flexion of the elbows. Thus, incorporating preacher curls into a well-strategized exercise regimen can help increase force production of the biceps brachii.
Although it is primarily an exercise for aesthetics, preacher curls also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.
Anatomy Of A Biceps Barbell Preacher Curl
The biceps brachii is located on the front of the arm, originating at the shoulder and inserting in the elbow joint. It consists of two heads, the long head (outer biceps) and the short head (inner biceps). The long head tendon helps stabilize the shoulder joint and its origin is located at the tubercle and lip of the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The short head origin is located at the coracoid process of the scapula. The long and short head unite as the muscle bellies run down the front of the arm. Both heads merge, sharing insertion into the radial tuberosity of the elbow joint.
The biceps brachii flexes the elbow joint and supinates the forearm. Supination refers to the simultaneous rotation of the wrist and elbow as the palm of your hand faces upward.
The brachialis lies underneath the biceps brachii, originating at the front of the lower end of the humerus bone. Its insertion is located at the coronoid process of the ulna at the elbow joint. The brachialis is a primary elbow flexor.
The brachioradialis aids the biceps brachii and brachialis, helping stabilize the elbow joint during biceps curls.
Although their contribution is minimal, forearm muscles, palmaris longus, flexor carpi radialis, and pronator teres contribute as weak flexors of the elbow joint.
Primary forearms flexors, flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris are stabilizers. Both insert at the elbow joint and attach at the metacarpals near the wrist.
Variations Of A Biceps Barbell Preacher Curl
Wide grip, narrow grip, EZ bar burl, reverse grip, cable curl, unilateral variations (e.g. dumbbell, cable, hammer).
How To Improve Your Biceps Barbell Preacher Curl
Strategically varying your grip width can result in optimal muscle activation that increases strength and hypertrophy of the biceps and brachialis.
Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.
It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between biceps training to allow muscles to repair.
Common Mistakes When Doing Biceps Barbell Preacher Curls
Returning the weight to starting position to quickly. Performing the eccentric portion of the lift ballistically (e.g. dropping the weight on the way down, extending the elbows quickly) and/or hyperextending the elbows can result in biceps tendon injuries.
Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Biceps Barbell Preacher Curls
If proper technique is not adhered to (e.g. dropping the weight quickly instead of controlling the descent on the eccentric portion of the lift), the likelihood of a biceps injury increases.
Although rare, biceps tendon rupture may occur if warm-up is not sufficient and/or if intensity (load) is increased inappropriately.
If proper recovery is not implemented between training days for optimal muscle repair of the biceps, the biceps tendon becomes inflamed. Without proper rest and treatment, the inflammation remains and results in biceps tendonitis.
Impingement syndrome and rotator cuff injuries, in general, are commonly associated with biceps tendonitis/biceps tendinosis. Therefore, it’s best to avoid biceps exercises when addressing impingement syndrome/rotator cuff injury unless advised by a physical therapist.