Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. 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).
  2. Adjust the height of the seat accordingly so your axilla is located just above the upper edge of the pad.
  3. Extend your elbows (keeping a slight bend in elbows) and grasp the dumbbells with a closed, supinated grip (the back of your palms facing you).
  4. Place your hands on the bar approximately shoulder width.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Flex the elbows, lifting the dumbbells towards your shoulders.
Do not jerk the body as the weight is lifted.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a slow and controlled fashion, allow the elbows to extend back to the starting position.
Do not fully extend elbows before the next repetition to keep the tension on the biceps. Do not bounce the dumbbells at the bottom of the movement when proceeding to the next repetition/concentric phase. Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric phase and inhale during the eccentric phase.

Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Biceps brachii and brachialis
  • Synergists: Brachioradialis
  • Stabilizers: Forearm flexors (flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris)
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy
  • Mechanics: Elbow flexion
  • Equipment: Dumbells and Preacher curl bench
  • Lever: 3rd class lever
  • Levels: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Dumbbell Preacher Curl

    What Is A Biceps Dumbbell 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 is performed with dumbbells and allows the lifter to ensure that both arms contract equally while seated on a preacher curl bench. The concentric portion of the lift is elbow flexion. The concentric portion involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is elbow extension, which involves the descent of the weight.

    The purpose of the dumbbell 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 (outer portion) 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 (inner portion) of the biceps and brachialis for the majority of elbow flexion in this position.

    Why Do Biceps Dumbbell Preacher Curls?

    Dumbbell 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 shoulders are 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.

    Performing preacher curls with dumbbells, as opposed to a barbell or an EZ bar, allows the lifter to contract both biceps to their full potential. Using dumbbells also allows the lifter to spot any weaknesses, if any, of one side compared to the other.

    Although it is primarily an exercise for aesthetics, dumbbell preacher curls also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.

    Anatomy Of A Biceps Dumbbell 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 (inner portion) and the short head (outer portion). 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.

    How To Improve Your Biceps Dumbbell Preacher Curl

    Performing one-arm preacher curls (i.e. one working arm propped on the bench while the other arms rests for the entirety of the set) allows the lifter to further isolate contraction of the biceps in a unilateral fashion. Overall, dumbbell preacher curls complement biceps training regimens. In a biceps exercise regimen, strategically varying your grip width and/or angle 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 Dumbbell Preacher Curls

    Returning the weight to starting position too 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.

    Variations Of A Biceps Dumbbell Preacher Curl

    One-arm preacher curls.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Biceps Dumbbell 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.