People like to joke about bicep curls, but they’re a great accessory exercise to build upper-body strength. Plus, they have all sorts of variations, like the spider curl. Another way to spice up your standard bicep curl is to opt for preacher curls. In this blog, we’ll go over:

  • What preacher curls are.
  • How to do them.
  • The benefits.
  • Variations/hacks.

What are Preacher Curls?

Preacher curls put a spin on things by having you in a seated and immobile position. From here, you perform a standard bicep curl.

How to Do Preacher Curls

Let’s break this down into steps! To do this exercise, you’ll need some sort of weight. Dumbbells or an EZ curl bar will work best.

If you need help picking dumbbells, check out our dumbbell buying guide.

  1. Grab your weights and sit in a preacher bench, if your gym has it. If not, you can use a regular incline bench as a hack. (Keeping scrolling for a video demo below!)
  2. Your palms should be facing up. Extend your arms so that they’re straight. Engage your shoulders and core to help stabilize your body in this position. If your posture is suffering, you’re not engaged.
  3. Bring the weight toward your face/chest. At the top, squeeze.
  4. Release the weight back down to the starting position. This completes one rep.

Simple! Here’s how it looks in action.

If you don’t have a preacher-type bench, an incline bench will work. Here’s what it would look like:

The Benefits of Preacher Curls

You probably already guessed it: Preacher curls are excellent for bicep gains. However, because you need to engage other muscles to stabilize your position, you’re also targeting your shoulders, back, and abdominals. Bonus! To make the most of this, remember that while the rest of your body should be engaged, it should not be moving.

Remember what we talked about regarding concentric vs eccentric movements. Both matter and will help you get stronger. So, don’t rush the preacher curl! Take your time and do it slowly and under control.

A Few Variations

The main variations of preacher curls involve changing the way your palm is facing, as you see in the video above. If your palm is facing down (overhand), you’re going to target your forearm. And if you turn your palm inward (facing the side), you’re going to target the muscle in between your bicep and tricep.

You can also focus on one arm at a time, as in the video above.

Another option? Turn this into tempo work! This means you slow down a portion (or all) of the movement. For example, you could lower the weight for a count of three before lifting it back to its starting position. Spending more time under tension equates to bigger gains. We call that a win.

Want to tone your arms further? Check out more of our go-to dumbbell arm exercises.